Uphill battle to achieve quality

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 1994, 12:00am

GETTING a laboratory to achieve the highest standards of technical competence can be a tough business.

The environmental management lab at the Hong Kong Productivity Council is one of just over 50 groups which have succeeded in receiving accreditation in the territory.

Spokesman Tsang Kam-lam said it was hard work to reach the high quality levels demanded by the accreditation body, HOKLAS.

'If you are going to get accredited for the first time, you have to design the quality systems and then put them in place.

'It can be quite a pain, and difficult, but when it is up and running it makes a tremendous difference to your operation.' The lab's main work is in carrying out environmental tests, on such things as waste water, taking air samples and noise measurements.

It works with the Hong Kong Productivity Council's consultancy service, which advises clients who want to adhere to the Government's guidelines on environmental protection.

The lab also handles contracts with outside organisations, which need environmental analysis reports.

Mr Tsang said: 'If a firm has a problem with waste water and pollution and meeting Government standards, then it needs to check exactly the extent of the problem.

'That is where the laboratory can help in providing the information needed to evaluate the problem.' The lab, set up 14 years ago, has a staff of 15.

It was accredited in 1991 and Mr Tsang said it had proved to be an extremely useful exercise.

'It has helped us to introduce higher professional standards, impose a form of quality assurance and has done a lot to further improve the operation of the laboratory.' But there have been other spin-offs from the lab receiving the HOKLAS seal of approval.

Mr Tsang said: 'The morale of the staff has been raised. They see accreditation as as recognition of the high standard of their work.

'Knowing that the quality of the service has been recognised by an outside body gives them even more confidence in what they are doing.' In the future, the lab hopes to receive accreditation from HOKLAS in other areas of expertise.