Environmental laboratories have become more popular and have had a positive environmental impact. As a chemist or lab director, you must deliver comprehensive research with environmental assessment, recommendations, and evaluations. Accredited laboratories are expected to follow TNI standards to provide high-quality data that is legally and scientifically defensible. Every NELAP accredited lab is required to follow the TNI regulations that ensure strict protocols to perform sampling, analysis, reporting, and other requirements. So, your lab must be ready for an upcoming NELAP audit.
What is a NELAP Audit and Why is it Necessary?
The NELAC Institute (TNI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to foster the generation of environmental data of known and documented quality through an open, inclusive, and transparent process that is responsive to the needs of the community. Its vision is a true national accreditation program, whereby all entities involved in the generation of environmental measurement data within the United States are accredited to one uniform, rigorous, and robust program that has been implemented consistently nationwide and focuses on the technical competence of the entity pursuing accreditation. To do so, the institute operates the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) sends auditors to visit facilities, laboratories, and worksites to determine how well they comply with government and local regulations. This audit process includes:
- Interviewing lab representatives
- Reviewing records and reports
- Collecting samples
- Taking photographs
- Observing operations
How to Prepare for a NELAP Audit
There are many reasons for auditors to show up at your laboratory, but no matter the reason, your lab must be adequately prepared. NELAP auditors typically look for certain key factors. Does your lab workspace and area have hazardous materials? How are the laboratories maintained? Do your employees have certain responsibilities for a specific area and are they aware of these responsibilities? Where do you store your paperwork? Can you find certain documents when asked? Is everything organized within the laboratory or facility?
The first thing you need to do is determine the status of your lab, research, and identify any operational gaps so you can address them. Conducting these audits regularly helps determine any compliance gaps. This includes staying organized and having all documents and records available that are current, accurate and up to date. Make sure you prepare your team and staff for the audit and let them know what will be required of them. Let them familiarize themselves with questions that may be asked, including where to find and access documents and records.
Preparing for a NELAP audit should be an ongoing practice. Your lab should always be prepared to ensure its compliance with regulations.
Preparing Your Lab with BTLIMS
Preparing your lab for a NELAP audit can be intimidating and overwhelming. Oftentimes lab directors and chemists have too many responsibilities on their plate and cannot take hours out of their schedule to navigate through extensive amounts of detail that go into an audit. But with BTSOFT Laboratory Information Management System Software (BTLIMS), the process is much faster and easier.
BTLIMS automates workflow, simplifies processes, and improves productivity. This software can help prepare for a NELAP audit by assuring efficient quality management and automating processes that support compliance. BTLIMS can handle multiple data systems while allowing a smooth and automated workflow for all laboratory processes. This allows labs to manage samples, studies, documents, staff training, protect data, and much more! Contact us today to learn more about BTLIMS.