Ensuring better results from drug and alcohol testing, this is one of the main outcomes of an initiative being championed by the Energy Chamber. On 28th July 2016 the Energy Chamber contracted Caribbean MedLabs Foundation to provide consultancy services for its latest project. The project intends to upgrade laboratory standards among medical laboratories within the industry. This is in an attempt to improve the quality and consistency of drug and alcohol testing for employees on the Pt Lisas Industrial Estate. This is an important activity to ensure continued safe operations on the multimillion dollar facilities on the estate. 

The Energy Chamber is implementing the project on behalf of the Pt. Lisas Energy Association (PLEA) of CEOs who are committed to minimising accidents and incidents in their respective organisations and the downstream energy industry as a whole. Towards this goal, PLEA has already standardised the substances tested for contract workers across its membership, and is now moving towards utilising only accredited laboratories for such services. 

This is where the project comes into play. Through the project, the Energy Chamber will be implementing in selected medical laboratories, the ISO 15189 standard for quality and competence in medical laboratories, as well as aspects of the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) standards for drug and alcohol testing. Implementation will be done through a stepwise process, moving towards accreditation of the medical laboratories. 

Phase 1 of the project will be funded by the Energy Chamber and will involve a baseline assessment and analysis of laboratories against the two standards. The project will be started with nine medical laboratories who each signed memorandum of understanding with the Energy Chamber on 1st July 2016, agreeing to participate in the project. These laboratories are expected to continue the process straight through to certification to tier 1 of the requirements of the ISO 15189 and US Dot standards. 

The Energy Chamber is pleased to partner with PLEA on this project to implement standards in medical laboratories. We are committed to projects that focus on implementation of standards since we believe that standards encourage transparency, increases efficiency, reduces costs for companies and is key to economic development. 

Caribbean MedLabs Foundation, the consultant for the project, brings a wealth of experience in the establishment of standards and quality in laboratory operations, both locally and regionally. Over the next eight (8) months, their experts will work with the laboratories to determine the gaps that may exist as they relate to the ISO and US DOT standards. In the ensuing phases, the laboratories will be trained and guided on bridging the gaps identified towards certification to tier 1 requirements of the standards. 

The project is expected to bring significant benefit to the downstream energy industry. For the PLEA operating companies, the project will streamline substance abuse testing and provide reliable laboratory results which is critical for decision making in these organisations. For the participating laboratories, the project will provide formal recognition of conformance to international standards. Additionally it will allow their clients including the PLEA operating companies, to easily identify them as providing reliable testing services and operating under best practice conditions. 

 

The ultimate intention is that PLEA will only recognise drug and alcohol testing from laboratories that are certified to the identified standards.