Posted on May 16, 2017

The Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’ has been awarded ISO 17025 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), as the first government agency in the State of Qatar to receive accreditation and successfully maintain it for four consecutive years.

Ashghal’s Centre for Research and Development succeeded in passing the rigorous procedures to re-evaluate the quality of the laboratory for the fourth time, thus maintaining its position as the first governmental laboratory centre to be accredited by ISO 17025 from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). In this regards Eng. Mohamed Ali Darwish, Director of Technical Support Affairs at Ashghal, confirmed that receiving ISO 17025, the most important international standard for testing and calibration laboratories, reflects the degree of international trust and the Centre's outputs to be a reference.

Centre for Research and Development conducts research work on all construction projects, infrastructure, roads and treated wastewater, which is being constructed, operated and managed by PWA. "The centre's works are supported by the latest laboratory equipment, which covers all kinds of environmental and civil engineering tests, which conduct tests on roads, concrete, buildings and sewage projects, in addition to supporting the centre’s employees in obtaining all necessary trainings",He added.

He continued saying that that the UKAS accreditation to Ashghal’s centre directly improves its efficiency with all its components, and recognizes it nationally and internationally. It also enhances confidence in the labs and the results of its tests, this is because the accreditation depends on a rigorous evaluation procedures carried out by the British Commission to ensure the highest administrative and technical quality and efficiency.

"We started years ago to pay attention to the importance of labs and a plan was put to develop the mechanism of work to obtain international accreditation for all Ashghal laboratories. And after considerable efforts, the centre was accredited ISO 17025 as the only government entity in Qatar accredited by UKAS, this is in addition to ISO for quality, safety and environment", said Eng. Khalid Mohammed Al-Emadi, Director of Quality and Safety Department.

He added: "For us, ISO is a commitment to a certain level of quality and efficiency,with no room for mistakes. Therefore, we are keen to ensure that the tests are carried out in a fundamental manner, with the aim of calibrating the devices at the highest level, and ensure correction of any mistake once it is discovered, and guarantee it will not be repeated again, otherwise the Centre will lose international accreditation".

Al-Emadi added that one of the most important requirements for the renewal of the international accreditation of ISO 17025, which makes it difficult to renew its accreditation annually, is to continuously update the laboratory equipment and ensure its continuous performance with the highest efficiency and at the highest level to achieve the most accurate results. This is in addition to training the technical staff working in laboratories to keep them abreast of the latest technologies and raise their abilities to handle all tests and bring out the best and most accurate results, which match the efficiency of the largest laboratories in the world.

He stressed that the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) delegation undertakes each year a laboratories comparison, in which some tests are conducted on a standard sample in Ashghal’s laboratories, and the results are sent abroad to assess their accuracy compared to the results of the labs across theworld. If the centre results proved its accuracy the accreditation is renewed and if the results show inaccuracy, the ISO 17025 is withdrawn immediately.

Regarding the safety in laboratories, Al-Emadi said that preserving them is one of the most important criteria on which to obtain and maintain ISO. To achieve this goal, all labs are checked every day to ensure the level of bacteria is within the accepted limits, so as not to harm the health of employees. Staff and workers are trained on how to handle materials and equipment, and Ashghal is keen on providing them with all necessary safety instructions, as well as periodic exercises on how to evacuate the building in case of emergency.

The most important models that the Centre for Research and Development has succeeded in implementing are the recycling of 50 million tons of drilling waste and using in construction, as well as the use of treated waste water to control the dust in Ashghal’s project sites. The next period to establish an environment-friendly building using treated wastewater in concrete and construction works. Mr. Ali bin Lahmis Al Marri, Head of Laboratories Section in the Quality and Safety Department, expressed his pleasure to renew the ISO certification for the fourth time in a row, which he considers a source of pride, not only for obtaining the accreditation but also for Ashghal’s ability to maintain it for four years, making Ashghal’s laboratories a standard in many laboratories around the world.

He said: "Ashghal’s laboratories are committed to maintaining quality and efficiency at both the administrative and technical levels. At the administrative level, Ashghal continuously supports training of the centre’s cadres, internally and externally, to ensure qualifying them at the highest level. At the technical level, all lab devices are upgraded and tested regularly to ensure their continuous operation without malfunctions, in addition to calibrating the devices to ensure accuracy of reading of each device and matching its results with international centres around the world.

Head of Laboratories Section in Ashghal added: “Each year, we add new research and laboratories to the ISO list. In 2017, we were able to obtain ISO for civil engineering projects as well as chemical and microbiological laboratories, and the mobile laboratory.”

The process of monitoring Ashghal’s private labs is one of the department’s most important role, according to Al-Marri, to ensure their continuous and accurate operation. The number of accredited laboratories has reached 18 lab until now. Ashghal contractors handle with them, in order to ensure efficiency and quality of tests. The lab also plays a major role in participating in various scientific researches with scientific entities such as Qatar University and various research centres in the country.

Al-Marri also added: “The laboratory’s ISO 17025 certification as part of its fourth consecutive assessment is a positive indicator of the lab's application of all international quality requirements; it encourages us to pay more efforts in order to maintain this success. In conclusion, I would like to thank Ashghal’s senior management, Mr. Mohammed Ali Darwish, Director of Technical Support Affairs, and Eng. Khalid Mohammed Al-Emadi, Quality and Safety Department Manager for their unlimited support and for overcoming all the difficulties that faced the lab.”

For his part, Chemical Consultant Ali Al-Hajri, Head of Chemical Laboratory Unit in the Laboratories Section in the Quality and Safety Department,said that the chemical laboratory provides all tests for the samples related to Ashghal projects, especially those related to wastewater treatment plants and the associated water output used in irrigating the green areas. The unit's role is ensuring the quality of water through chemical tests conducted by the laboratory, in addition to providing all testing potentials to other institutions that work in various projects related to Ashghal, such as surface water, farms and others.

Ashghal Successful renewal of [].jpgOn the other side, Basma al-Naimi, Biological Consultant and Head of Microbiology Unit in Ashghal’s Research and Development Centre, says: “The Microbiology lab in the Laboratories Section is specialised in conducting environmental tests and treated wastewater tests according to the latest approved and documented test methods based on to international standards. The lab includes efficient technical staff that is professional in the field of microbiological tests and treated water tests. They are always aware of the latest developments and releases in the field of standard tests and wastewater microbiological analysis. The lab includes the latest equipment and materials that are used to increase the quality of tests and results. This is in addition to the quality and efficiency tests for each of the test itself and the person working on it, in order to have continuous improvement of performance and to keep pace with scientific and information development in the field of scientific research and water testing”.

Regarding monitoring the laboratories, Mr. Abdul Razzaq Shaheen al Kuwari – Head of Labs Monitoring Unit and Manager of Laboratories Quality in the centre – emphasized the role of the unit in testing samples from Ashghal’s projects, in addition to the regular checkups on private labs on Ashghal’s approved list that are implementing Ashghal’s projects, to ensure the highest quality to meet international standards. Here comes the role of the Labs Quality Unit to control and ensure the work quality in these labs according to the international standards, and exclude violating labs from participating in any project.

He added “Ashghal centre also does community service through training and giving pass certificates for some exams to improve the efficiency of workers in all government entities and support researchers from university and schools students to transfer knowledge to the young generation. This is in addition to participating in some scientific exhibitions to introduce Ashghal’s role to the community through Ashghal’s Research and Development Centre.”

As per Ms. Mariam Rostom, Researcher in the Chemical Lab Unit, Labs Section, the chemical lab role is summarized in testing the various chemical  indicators for water, soil and air to determine the extent of contamination of samples or the extent of the match with the various standards and environmental laws, and these tests varies to include the test of the concentration of heavy elements, examination of petroleum contaminants and mineral salts forming water and soil samples, to ensure getting best results from treated water and soil.