Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Laboratory Accreditation

The GEM Engineering, Inc. testing laboratory now is accredited by the AASHTO Accreditation Program (AAP) for performing a variety of AASHTO & ASTM soil test methods. The AAP recognizes the competency of a testing laboratory in construction materials testing. The program is available to all laboratories including independent laboratories, manufacturers' in-house laboratories, university laboratories, and government laboratories. The AAP utilizes laboratory assessment and proficiency sample services provided by the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) and the Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory (CCRL).

The AAP accreditation process included:
  • Confirmation that our laboratory quality management system meets the requirements of AASHTO R18.
  • An on-site assessment with by an AMRL representative.

Key aspects of AASHTO R18 include:
  • Implementation and maintenance of a quality management system (QMS)
  • Documentation of the laboratory quality management system objectives in the form of a quality policy statement
  • Maintenance of current, accessible copies of standards for the testing performed Training procedures to ensure that laboratory personnel perform tests in accordance with standard procedures
  • Internal audits and management reviews to ensure the quality management systems continuing suitability and effectiveness
  • Procedures for implementing corrective action when nonconforming work or departures from policies and procedures have been discovered
  • Calibration, standardization, check, and maintenance of test equipment.

We are proud of this achievement which will allow us to enhance the level of service we provide to our clients.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Laboratory and Technician Certification

The interests of the public are best served when materials and workmanship critical to the structural integrity of structures are monitored through the process of Special Inspections. A Special Inspector is qualified to identify and communicate required corrections or Owner-directed changes before they are built into the structure, to provide prompt responses to contractor's field questions, to expedite corrective measures to address contractor errors, to help build and maintain team communication and working relationships with the contractor, and to reduce misinterpretation of the structural design intent. The extensive on-site presence of one or more Special Inspectors on a construction project is the best means to protect the public, control claims and losses, and improve quality of the completed project.

The International Code Council (ICC) is the predominant organization that provides training and certification for Special Inspectors. GEM is a member of the ICC. Several of our engineers and technicians are ICC certified “Special Inspectors” in the categories of:

  1. Spray-applied Fireproofing
  2. Structural Masonry
  3. Reinforced Concrete
  4. Structural Steel and Bolting.

Our policy is that each member of the GEM construction monitoring and engineering staff earns certification in at least one category within their first year of employment.

GEM participates in the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) and Concrete & Cement Reference Laboratory (CCRL) proficiency sample programs. These two programs involve the delivery of pairs of soil, aggregate and concrete material samples to participating laboratories throughout the country to perform ASTM/AASHTO tests such as standard Proctor, CBR, soil classification, sieve analysis, absorption/specific gravity, and concrete slump, air content, unit weight, temperature, and compressive strength tests. The test results are compiled from all the labs submitting results and then each lab is graded upon the average result of each test method.

GEM is on track to have our testing laboratory inspected and assessed by AMRL and CCRL personnel over the next 12 months to become an accredited lab within these organizations for specific ASTM and AASHTO test methods requested.

CHASE Partnership WHITE Level

GEM Engineering, Inc. is committed to doing business in a manner that values & protects the health and safety of our employees. GEM participates in the Construction Health and Safety Excellence (CHASE) partnership. CHASE was established by the Associated General Contractors of KY (AGCKY) and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Occupational Safety & Health Program (KY-OSH) to promote a safe & healthful work environment in the construction industry. At the 2008 AGC of KY Awards Dinner, GEM was recognized for achieving CHASE WHITE status for 2008.

This recognition involved meeting the following requirements:

  • Meet all of the requirements for RED level;
  • Implement a comprehensive written safety and health program based on the ANSI A10.38-1991 Guidelines or OSHA's 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines inclusive of a 6 ft. fall protection program;
  • Assign at least one trained employee or other qualified person with responsibility for employee safety to administer the participants safety and health program and to conduct documented safety and health inspections of ongoing work; training completed in the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety & Health course or equivalent will be deemed satisfactory for these assigned individuals;
  • Conduct and document an orientation for all new employees in the safety and health program of the company, and show evidence of effective employee training for avoidance of hazards specific to the contractor's work site(s);
  • Conduct and document weekly employee safety meetings;
  • onduct and document self-audits;
  • Show evidence of employee involvement in the safety and health program; for example, participation in self-audits, site inspections, job hazard analysis, safety and health program reviews, safety training, and mishap investigations;
  • Develop and maintain a Substance Abuse Program;
  • Provide all field construction supervisory personnel (all those with direct supervision of tradesmen) with training equivalent to the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety & Health Course;
  • Maintain a total case injury/illness incident rate that is "at or below" the most current Bureau of Labor rate for your business category.

This recognition was the results of a team effort by all GEM Employees. We are proud of this award, but even more proud that we have not lost a single day from an employee accident or injury since June 2006.