Most of the European Union's member states operate their own proficiency testing schemes in the occupational hygiene area, emphasising the importance most countries attribute to the validation of analytical results. With regards to harmonisation in this area there are many differences between the schemes at many levels. These include matters concerning their relationship with legislation, national status, types and quality of proficiency testing material, analytical range and priorities concerning further development. The first meeting of the network in Brussels in April 1997 discussed the objectives of the project and the actions necessary to achieve them.
1. To act as a steering group and umbrella organisation for the development and harmonisation of proficiency testing schemes in Europe.
2. To develop research initiatives, if required by the steering committee, to improve the quality of proficiency testing standards.
3. To improve the quality of analytical performance in occupational hygiene and environmental measurement in industry
A draft compendium has been developed to describe the services provide for each. scheme. A common statistical protocol has been agreed on as the basis for comparison. All of the schemes have been compared with the ISO Guide 43 and any deficiencies identified. Scheme organisers are to provide participants with estimates of uncertainty of the assigned value. All schemes are encouraged to accept laboratories from other member states. Members are to evaluate data to determine if standards of assessment are comparable and to supply formal proposals for new analytes for the European network.
To achieve harmonisation it is necessary that schemes are comparable with each other. This will be achieved by the comparison of each scheme to ISO Guide 43. It is particularly necessary to have comparable statistics and so a common one will be introduced into all schemes to enable comparisons to be carried out. There are many areas with the potential for co-operation and harmonisation such as: the opening up of some of the national schemes to laboratories of other member states, the introduction of new analytes, common data management protocols, comparable levels of required analytical performance to determine satisfactory analysis to conform with the requirements of CEN TC 137 and support to member states without schemes.
Funding SchemeTHN - Thematic network contracts
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