AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast

FAQ - What happens after an assessment?

September 01, 2020 AASHTO resource Season 1 Episode 7
Show Notes Transcript

AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript

Season 01, Episode 07: FAQ - What happens after an assessment?

Released:  SEPTEMBER 01, 2020

Hosts: Brian Johnson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Director; Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source 

Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics. 

Transcription is auto-generated. 

[Theme music fades in.] 

00:00:02 ANNOUNCER: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials testing and inspection with people in the know.  From exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here’s our host, Brian Johnson.

00:00:22 BRIAN: This episode of Q&A is going to be an FAQ episode, which means that Kim, our producer, is going to ask me a question and I'm going to do my best to answer it. So, Kim, what do you got?

00:00:36 KIM: Today, today is one of our frequently asked questions. That's why it's an FAQ. That's why we're doing this. But a lot of our customers want to know what happens after the assessment.

00:00:49 BRIAN: OK, well a lot.

00:00:52 KIM: A lot happens.

00:00:53 BRIAN: All right. Let me take it from the point at which you get your preliminary report after the assessment. So this is the same thing for CCRL as it is for actual resource. You get a report, somebody goes over what the nonconformities are and this is your time.

00:01:10 BRIAN: To take action so.

00:01:13 BRIAN: Depending on the severity of the issues, first you have to look at that. If there's something that's really gone wrong.

00:01:20 BRIAN: You need to stop what you're doing and so if you were, if you find out that your technicians were running a test completely incorrectly and you've got a project going on where they have to do it, you need to take action immediately. So go back there to the lab, retrain them on whatever that test is. If there's equipment that needs to be.

00:01:39 BRIAN: You ordered you order that equipment right away, so you do have to prioritize.

00:01:45 BRIAN: Your corrective action taking once you get the big stuff out of the way, then you start chipping away at the more.

00:01:55 BRIAN: Maybe what you perceive to be more minor corrective actions or maybe more comprehensive ones. Sometimes you have laboratories that are part of a larger organization and maybe they have a corporate quality management system and other people who perform their internal audits or are part of their internal audit.

00:02:16 BRIAN: Team or?

00:02:18 BRIAN: Managers that aren't accessible all the time that need to be participating in a management review. This would be a good time to schedule those activities. You're not gonna be able to take them right away, but you wanna schedule them. But basically what I'm trying to get at is you really need to start this activity right away. Once you get that.

00:02:38 BRIAN: Preliminary report. So by the time that final report is issued after all of our internal edits and everything, you'll be ready to start submitting corrective actions.

00:02:50 BRIAN: A lot of labs, every well. I guess everybody who's participating should know you get 60 days from the time you get that final report to when you should have taken all of your corrective actions and submitted those to us for review.

00:03:06 KIM: A point so you have 60 days to not figure out your corrective action. It's 60 days to actually take that corrective action. Is that correct or is it just like I have a plan now or is it it it's already done?

00:03:15 BRIAN: Yeah, that's that's right.

00:03:19 BRIAN: You should have. You should be done by then so that that's the expectation is that you've completed them. Like I said earlier.

00:03:26 BRIAN: Sometimes it's a little more complicated. Like let's say you have to buy some really expensive piece of equipment. It's a specialty thing. You, you know, it's gonna take a long time. Let's say you ordered it early in the process, and you're not gonna be able to get it until.

00:03:44 BRIAN: Day 70 or something like that. That's OK. So in in the 1st 60 day period you can say we placed the order on this day. Here's the.

00:03:53 BRIAN: And we're anticipating installation on this. They passed that deadline and then the calibrator is gonna come in and take care of business after that. We've got that scheduled to provide it. Everything works out and there's no delays, which is unlikely, right? Then everything will work out.

00:04:13 BRIAN: But let's say you go through all those. You take all those actions.

00:04:19 BRIAN: Planning and there are still delays that you couldn't control. That is where you tell the quality analyst that's been working with you, what's going on and if you truly have been taking action and doing your best to keep up, they will push it out a little bit more for you. So they'll say, OK, that's great. You've got everything else resolved. We're just waiting on this one.

00:04:41 BRIAN: Item you presented a plan of action.

00:04:45 BRIAN: And and you're just in waiting mode. We'll we'll set a new deadline for you. It's not really an extension. A lot of times people say, can I have an extension? It's more like we've established a new deadline for you completing that corrective actions. But we a common question is that fake queues is probably one of the most common.

00:05:05 BRIAN: Questions.

00:05:06 BRIAN: We get is. We're really busy. Can we get an extension? And the answer is no to that. We don't really give extensions. We're not really supposed to be giving extensions, but there are circumstances in which you do need more time to take care of something that you have submitted a plan of action to.

00:05:27 BRIAN: And you can get a new deadline for that, but it's not a wholesale. Hey, you don't have to worry about any of this for a while because you're really busy right now.

00:05:35 BRIAN: Gotcha. Does that makes sense? I know that's a really confusing point for people.

00:05:39 KIM: I I think it makes sense, but I may be too close to it so but I think I think it makes.

00:05:44 KIM: Sense.

00:05:45 KIM: For for the most part, yeah.

00:05:47 BRIAN: Yeah, it's hard to. It's hard to make a distinction between like something that's a plan of action, like what is the plan of action. I think that's probably another thing that people wonder about, a plan of action is, and I'm going to do this when I'm available to do it. A plan of action is.

00:05:50 KIM: Yeah.

00:06:06 BRIAN: Of.

00:06:07 BRIAN: Contacted whoever I need to contact to take care of this. I have established my policy or procedure and now I have to enact it, but I can't enact it until this time period because of whatever the circumstance is. So there has to be some work.

00:06:24 BRIAN: Having been done and and really has to be thought out and started before we consider it to be a real plan of action.

00:06:34 KIM: Yeah, that makes sense that the you can't just have like, well, this is what I'm going to do. This is what I've done and I'm waiting for this final.

00:06:41 KIM: Piece.

00:06:42 BRIAN: M.

00:06:42 KIM: Time wise that makes I think that makes sense.

00:06:45 BRIAN: Yeah, because we do have some people, they'll say, you know, you'll look at their corrective actions and it's, you know, there might be 15 items and they'll say I will do this. I will do that. I will do this other thing and that's basically nothing from our perspective. You haven't done anything. You haven't taken any correct, taken any corrective action. The other component to the corrective action.

00:07:06 BRIAN: Process that.

00:07:08 BRIAN: That is really important to know is that it's not just about that corrective action component, the document that says what you're going to do. You have to do the investigation and figure out what the root cause is.

00:07:20 KIM: MHM.

00:07:22 BRIAN: So it's not OK. I'll give you an example. Calibrations weren't performed on time.

00:07:31 BRIAN: A lot of times laboratories will just say, well, here's my calibration record. We've done it now.

00:07:36 BRIAN: Well, that's great, but you haven't really addressed the problem. The problem is you don't have a system in place to remind you or to to be able to keep up with that all the time. So you really need to look at your process.

00:07:51 BRIAN: Us and make an adjustment and see what you can do to not miss it in the future as well. So that's what we're more looking for, for corrective action rather than just a new record.

00:08:02 KIM: So it's not fixed necessarily. You need to fix the immediate problem, but you also need to dig deeper into why it was a problem in the 1st place, right?

00:08:12 BRIAN: That.

00:08:12 BRIAN: That's right. That's right. And that will help you avoid any repeat nonconformities in the future. That's what we wanna do, right? We wanna improve our processes over time. And it doesn't mean you're never gonna make mistakes eventually. Like, you're not gonna get to.

00:08:26 BRIAN: Correction because we're we're humans and we just we seem incapable of that. But you will just be able to continually improve your system and reduce the wasted time.

00:08:38 KIM: Yeah. And if our listeners are interested, we have an article on our website about root cause analysis and kind of getting to the root of a problem that might be helpful if you want more details on that. And I'm guessing that it might be a podcast.

00:08:52 KIM: Well, I'm thinking.

00:08:53 BRIAN: Yeah, I think it probably will be.

00:08:56 KIM: That will be but for the.

00:08:58 KIM: For a little more insight and like again what happens after the assessment there a laboratory after an assessment, whether it's remote or an on site assessment, they will get a preliminary report and now will those will the information on the preliminary report be different than the final report? How often are they different?

00:09:17 KIM: Would you say?

00:09:17 BRIAN: It it really shouldn't be different. There are times where an assessor may say.

00:09:22 BRIAN: I'm not certain about this. One thing. I'm gonna go back and figure it out cuz they're they're always running into unusual situations, you know, homemade equipment or just somebody doing something a strange way, or maybe the standard is ambiguous about a certain aspect of what they're doing.

00:09:42 BRIAN: So those kind of items are always up for change when you get the final report, but the assessor should be that report should be pretty much spot on to what you.

00:09:53 BRIAN: Going to get at the end, so there really isn't any risk. I don't want anybody saying. Well, it could change. So that gives me a good reason to delay taking action that does not. That's not. That's not really a valid concern to allow you to put yourself behind.

00:10:10 KIM: OK.

00:10:15 KIM: Yeah. So it's to me, it's sounding like you as soon as the laboratory has that preliminary report, like don't waste any time waiting for that like.

00:10:24 KIM: Get.

00:10:24 KIM: Start doing corrective actions and documenting the corrective actions based on those nonconformities, right?

00:10:29 BRIAN: That's right. Get get busy right away because we've got a.

00:10:34 BRIAN: There's there's usually quite a few things that you need to take care of, and the longer it goes, the less you remember about what those details are. Cuz I mean that used to be a big problem when we had a 90 day deadline, so the 60 day deadline.

00:10:47 KIM: Mm-hmm.

00:10:50 BRIAN: The laboratories that would reach out to us at Day 89 and say I don't remember what this is. Those labs were destined for suspension because there's no way if they're just trying to remember what happened on day 89, there's no way they're gonna take all the corrective actions and submit all the documentation required in one day.

00:11:10 BRIAN: So give yourself plenty of time, but yeah, so we've been talking a lot about the planning part and what the laboratory needs to do to take corrective action.

00:11:17 BRIAN: The the the big part and I think what gets what we often hear is dragged out is the they'll submit the initial corrective actions and supporting evidence records or whatever it is, and then they will get a response from the quality analyst saying.

00:11:36 BRIAN: OK. Thank you for this. But you still have to do a couple other things. Now I do wanna address this concern that some laboratories express about that activity. A lot of times the report might say the laboratory did not have this piece of equipment or the laboratory did not have this record. Now in the standards there are all these requirements for whatever those things are.

00:12:03 KIM: Mm-hmm.

00:12:03 BRIAN: So it's not, it's not sufficient to just say, well, we have this now and this is what we bought, but we haven't validated. We haven't verified that it meets all of those criteria that are established.

00:12:14 KIM: Hmm.

00:12:16 BRIAN: And we're just assuming because somebody told us it was good, that it would meet all these requirements. Sometimes that's not the case and it's.

00:12:25 BRIAN: Our what we feel is our duty is letting people know right away if there's something wrong, especially if they bought a piece of equipment that's out of spec. We want them to know before they start using it if possible so that they can return it and purchase something that is in conformance.

00:12:42 BRIAN: But we're not going to just say yeah, that's good enough and we'll worry about all the details later, because sometimes people will get something that isn't even. It doesn't really get them to conformance with the standards. And that's ultimately what we're after.

00:12:56 KIM: Well, I think we covered this topic well, Brian. I think we have a good our listener should have a good idea about what happens after the assessment and what they should be doing. I want to thank our listeners for listening to this episode of AASHTO re: source Q & A. If you'd like to be a guest or just submit a question, send us an email at podcast@aashtoresource.org or call Brian at 240-436-4820. For other news and related content, check out AASHTO re:source's social media accounts or go to aashtoresource.org.