TNI Mentor Initiative
TNI is excited to announce the launch of this all-volunteer initiative developed and designed to directly support laboratories seeking to implement and maintain a Quality Management System (QMS) based on the TNI standard.Note: Laboratories participating in this initiative may choose to implement a QMS but are not required to subsequently obtain accreditation.
Mentoring is an important component of overcoming any new challenges. It provides networking opportunities, insider advice, perspective, and support. The laboratory being mentored, the “Mentee laboratory,” may be any environmental laboratory that is interested in implementing a Quality Management System based on the TNI standard.
The Mentee laboratory is expected to:
- Provide information and documentation requested by the Mentor.
- Commit time and resources required to implement a QMS.
- Not hold TNI or the Mentor liable.
- Someone at the laboratory will need to complete the Laboratory Mentee Survey to be used to facilitate pairing your laboratory with a Mentor. Once the survey is complete, your organization will be eligible for TNI's Mentor Initiative and your response will be forwarded to individuals that will be able to help you.
To participate in this program, one person at your laboratory must have a valid TNI membership. To become a TNI member visit this webpage.
- After reviewing the survey, TNI will host an initial meeting (teleconference) with the Mentee laboratory. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the objectives and expectations of the mentor effort, the commitment of the laboratory being mentored, and to document some basic information about the laboratory, including the scope of their testing and where they are in progress in terms of developing a QMS.
- TNI will then provide the name (s) of potential Mentors to the Mentee laboratory to assess any conflict of interest. TNI will not assign a Mentor that is not accepted by the Mentee.
- Once the Mentee laboratory has decided on a Mentor, the two parties will review the Mentor Expectations and discuss.
- Learning from an industry professional.
- Sharing professional goals while broadening your network.
- Gaining the skills and confidence necessary to excel while building a relationship that will inspire, encourage, and support you in your future endeavors.
- Developing a professional network and meaningful connections with other laboratory professionals.
- Connecting real world experience to academics by acquiring valuable advice from a mentor’s experiences.
- Receiving guidance and coaching to meet the challenges of transitioning to a TNI accredited laboratory.
- Asking questions and have honest conversations with someone who’s been there.
To support the implementation of the 2016 standard, TNI has developed a number of tools and other resources to help laboratories. Many of these are freely available on the TNI website and TNI has a free training course to help laboratories find all of these resources at https://nelac-institute.org/content/eds-home.php.
TNI has many downloadable webcasts to help laboratories at: https://nelac-institute.org/content/eds-home.php. Some of these are listed below with links for more information.
Corrective Action Process and Root Cause Analysis
Internal Audits and Management Review
Ethics Training for the Environmental Professional
Establishing a Data Integrity Plan
Defining Organizational Responsibilities
Developing the Quality Manual as a Useful Management Tool
Document and Document Control
Records and Record Keeping
Ensuring Ethics In Your Testing
What Does QC Data Tell Me… and Why Should I Care?
Changes to the 2016 TNI Laboratory Accreditation Standard - Chemistry
Changes to the 2016 TNI Laboratory Accreditation Standard - Microbiology
Changes to the 2016 TNI Laboratory Accreditation Standard - Proficiency Testing
Changes to the 2016 TNI Laboratory Accreditation Standard - Quality Systems
The New TNI Radiochemistry Standard
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 01 - You Can Do It!
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 02 - Management Requirements
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 03 - Management of Ethics
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 04 - Personnel
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 05 - Sample Handling
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 06 - Equipment
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 07 - Methods
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 08 - Quality Control
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 09 - Reporting Results
Small Laboratory Implementation Series - Part 10 - It's More Than Running The Right Method
Small Laboratory Handbook
This document is intended to help explain the requirements of the 2016 Standard and to provide environmental laboratories, especially small laboratories, with clear, simple guidance on how to develop the policies and procedures that will allow them to become accredited to the TNI Standard. This handbook is NOT a substitute for reading and understanding the TNI Standard. The handbook contains “How to” information, a discussion of the accreditation process and several appendices with useful information. These include common findings, SOP templates, and answers to standard interpretation requests.
2016 Quality Manual Template
The 2016 TNI Quality Manual Template is a tool designed for laboratories to help prepare a Quality Manual in compliance with the 2016 TNI Standard. The prefabricated sections of the Quality Manual follow the ISO/IEC 17025 outline but are completely fluid so that you can put sections, examples, links or references anywhere. The Template includes helpful notes, examples and text that can be edited to match each laboratory's particular circumstances. It can be used by a laboratory to create a Quality Manual from scratch or ideas and sections can be used to update a current Quality Manual. The primary change in this revised template was combining the multiple files into one file to make the template easier to edit and replacing the reference to the 2009 standard to the 2016 standard. Since both the 2009 and 2016 standards have the same organization and very comparable content, anyone who purchased the 2009 version, or has an existing Quality Manual, does not need to obtain the 2016 version.
TNI has published a Checklist to allow laboratories to do an internal gap analysis for the TNI 2016 Standard. This checklist may be downloaded online if you own a copy of the TNI Standard. This analysis will enable laboratories to see where they might need to add policies, procedures, or other documentation.
Implementation Guidance, Guidance Documents, and Standard Interpretation Responses (SIRs)
Implementation Guidance documents are created to explain best practices for problem-solving or basic laboratory activities, typically but not always in response to questions submitted for interpretations which cannot be addressed adequately by that route.
TNI has published three guidance documents on these specific topics.
TNI has established an avenue for responses to questions submitted electronically on Interpretation of the Standards. Answers to the requests were previously organized by standard: 2003, 2009, or 2016. Some are now obsolete. Some of 2003 and 2009 SIRs are applicable to 2016. Expert Committees have reviewed all previous responses to map to 2016 where applicable.
Assessor Training Courses
These downloadable webcasts are designed to provide on-going training for laboratory assessors, but laboratory quality managers may find them useful for conducting internal audits. The objectives of the courses are to review the 2016 TNI Standard, provide updates on the interpretations of the TNI Standards, review accreditation body procedures, and review assessment practices.
Assessor On-Going Training - 2016 TNI Environmental Laboratory Standard
Assessor Technical Training: Asbestos
Assessor Technical Training: Microbiology
Implementing and Assessing the Environmental Laboratory Standard Interpretations
Internal Audits: Auditing the Management System in Environmental Analytical Laboratories
Remote Assessments Series - Class 1 (Information Communication Technology)
Remote Assessments Series - Class 2 (AB Assessments)
Remote Assessments Series - Class 3 (Laboratory Preparation)
Small Laboratory Advocate Linked In Page
A “Mentor,” may be a current or retired laboratory assessor, laboratory director, quality assurance manager, or technical subject matter expert that has experience in TNI’s laboratory accreditation standard. Mentors will serve in an advisory role only. The Mentor is not a consultant and will not take any action on behalf of the Mentee. For example, the Mentor may review and critique a laboratory’s SOP or Quality Manual but is not expected to create such a document. The Mentor might give advice on a particular section of the TNI standard but would not perform a gap analysis of the laboratory’s conformance to the standard.
The Mentor is expected to:
- Maintain professional and ethical standards while serving as a Mentor.
- Keep completely confidential all case information and sensitive materials that they may observe or become aware of while in or around the Mentee.
If you want to become a mentor, please complete this form.
Q: How long does the relationship last?
A: There is no specified timeframe.
Q: What platform will the laboratory and mentor use to communicate?
A: That will be worked out by the laboratory and mentor, but phone and internet most likely.
Q: Who has to have the TNI membership?
A: Just one person who works for the Mentee laboratory.
Q: What items will the Mentee laboratory be required to purchase?
A: At a minimum, each Mentee laboratory must have a copy of the 2016 TNI Standard. The laboratory is not required, but may choose to purchase, the TNI Quality Manual Template, Small Laboratory Handbook, or any of the training courses that TNI has available.
Environmental laboratory test results impact many areas of our daily lives — assurance of safe drinking water, compliance with environmental monitoring limits, assuring remediation of hazardous waste sites, and measuring toxic compounds in air emissions. Government agencies and others rely on the competence of laboratories to deliver the results on which these important decisions are made.
TNI has developed a laboratory mentoring plan that provides assistance to laboratories seeking to implement and maintain a quality management system based on the TNI standard. The TNI mentor will serve in an advisory role only, such as reviewing and critiquing operations.
The NELAC Institute (TNI) conducted extensive research in 2019 and 2020 on the benefits of implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) based on the TNI Standard. This research showed laboratories that implemented such a system improved both performance and data quality (link to white paper).
In 2020, TNI formed a Mentoring Sub-committee whose mission is to: Explore and make recommendations on developing a financially sustainable laboratory mentoring plan that provides assistance to laboratories seeking to implement and maintain a quality management system based on the TNI standard. The Mentoring plan described above is the result of the subcommittee’s work and recommendations to the TNI Board.