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Strategies for Staying on Your “A” Game During Covid-19

Strategies for Staying on Your “A” Game During Covid-19

Has COVID-19 had an impact on your environmental sampling efforts? Have sampling activities been conducted safely and effectively under the stringent COVID-19 restrictions without negatively impacting sample data quality and reliability? It is just as important now as ever that proper quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) protocol be part of your sampling program. During these times, everyone has a lot on their mind, and some are understandably just not on their “A” game. Remember, when it comes to generating reliable environmental data, it all starts in the field.

The initial step in developing a proper field sampling QA/QC program is the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs document the way activities are to be performed to facilitate consistent conformance relative to technical and QA program requirements, and to support data quality and defensibility. 

But simply having SOPs in place does not mean they are being properly implemented. To help ensure that they are, field sampling consultants need to have a managed SOP review process and an ongoing SOP training program in place. The Environmental Standards training personnel provide SOP training to field sampling consultants. During training, the purpose and objectives behind the SOPs are discussed, as well as the proper implementation of each SOP. Training occurs in the classroom/field or virtually, which has been commonly the case in recent months.

Once training is complete, a field auditing program should be implemented. The field audits will verify that consultants adhere to procedures identified in the SOPs (and other project control documents) during field operations and provide independent assurance that field procedures and QA/QC protocol are sufficient to produce data of satisfactory quality. The field audits also identify areas for improvement and allow for implementation of real-time corrections and provide a “defense” if field procedures are called into question.

COVID-19 has delayed a lot of environmental projects and affected the productivity of others, but throughout this pandemic, we have found effective strategies and solutions to meet not just local and national COVID-19 safety requirements, but also the additional requirements enforced by some of our clients. We have found creative ways to conduct training and audits both virtually and in the field. We are helping clients stay on their “A” game. Please let us know if we can assist you with your field sampling QA/QC program.

Dan Claycomb

Principal Geoscientist