Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana will be part of a massive initiative aimed at promoting standards in the Caribbean when ASTM International, one of the world’s leading standards organizations, hosts several events in the Region as part of the “Caribbean Roadshow”, from June 4-8.
The roadshow includes outreach, training, and education focused on the growing use of ASTM International standards and International Code Council (ICC) codes. The team will highlight longstanding Caribbean partnerships and focus on how standards and codes are the foundation for quality and safety in construction projects.
Activities also include industry workshops and meetings with high-profile groups in Kingston (June 4-5), Port of Spain (June 6), and Georgetown (June 7-8). Speakers will include Mark Johnson, executive vice president of ICC, and R. Christopher Mathis, ASTM International board member and president of MC2 Mathis Consulting.
“This partnership involves unprecedented outreach and networking aimed at finding solutions to sustainable construction challenges,” said ASTM International director of external relations, James Olshefsky. “We look forward to highlighting the many members and dozens of partners who increasingly use ASTM’s high-quality standards throughout the region.”
In addition, the roadshow will include student forums during which students will learn about ASTM’s academic offerings, and laboratory roundtables, where ASTM staff will present information about ASTM’s laboratory services.
ASTM International has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) as well as many of its member states including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. These agreements encourage participation of technical experts worldwide in the standards development process, while also broadening the global acceptance of ASTM International standards.
The “Caribbean Roadshow” follows a similar roadshow in September 2017 to El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Over the past 17 years, ASTM International has signed 109 MOUs with national standards bodies worldwide. As a result, its standards have been referenced more than 7,500 times outside the United States in laws, regulations, codes, and elsewhere. For more information on this program, visit www.astm.org/GLOBAL/mou.html.
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Businesses in Guyana will now have the opportunity to vie to be the dubbed the best in quality products and services in the country.
That’s because the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) recently launched a National Quality Awards Programme, with the sole aim of recognising businesses that have “demonstrated commitment towards Quality by implementing recognised standards and best practices”. This will be based on a comprehensive assessment using pre-established criteria under the Quality Awards Scheme.
With this launch, the bureau, which is the main agency for the development of quality infrastructure in the country, is hoping to promote a quality of culture in Guyana; enhance business efficiency and effectiveness through usage of recognised quality services; strengthen stakeholder engagement with the bureau; create public awareness on the importance of quality in goods and services and increasing the production of such quality while increasing regional and international competitiveness among businesses.
Executive Director of the Bureau, Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick told the audience, including the business sector, “At the GNBS, and also through CROSQ (CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality), it is an initiative to recognise businesses and also to encourage our local businesses to embrace standards and quality.”
She added: “Moreso, when we look at ensuring that our businesses are competitive, having Quality Awards will allow those businesses to look at their operation in terms of standardisation and how they can become competitive. Most times our businesses may leave issues of standardisation as a last resort or if it is a demand for an export market . . . but in addition to meeting those certification requirements, we would like our businesses to have it as part of their philosophy of operation.”
CROSQ CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar commented on the timing of the launch of this Awards scheme, which was an initiative under the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme.
“It is perhaps also fortuitous that this launch comes at a time when were are not just building a regional quality infrastructure, but looking to put structures and policy in place to ensure its sustainability. As such, over the past years, CROSQ and our partners in the 10th EDF-TBT Programme have embarked on a journey to creating a Regional Quality Policy that gives context to today’s devleopments.
“This policy that I speak of, has at its heart, a focus on creating the kind of culture in the region that incorporates thoughts of quality into everything we do. It is intended to promote higher levels of productivity, innovation, export competitiveness and consumer health and environmental protection through improved quality of products and services and the development of an internationally recognised, demand-oriented, quality infrastructure – all within the context of various trade agreements,” said Mr. Omar.
Head of the Guyana Quality Awards Team, Mr. Lloyd David explained that the QA Programme for the country would look at the manufacturing and services sectors and was aimed at enhancing quality and competitiveness of local goods and services; allowing businesses to compete on quality; encouraging businesses to adopt principles of continuous improvement; heightening consumer confidence in products and services produced locally, and creating a platform for businesses to evaluate and improve businesses on quality platforms.
The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)’s Central Laboratory has made history by becoming the first laboratory in Guyana to become accredited to the International Standards Organisation’s ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The ISO standard is used by laboratories in developing their management system for quality, administrative and technical operations. Laboratory customers, regulatory authorities and accreditation bodies may also use it in confirming or recognizing the competence of laboratories.
By earning this standard, the GRBD has achieved several significant milestones including becoming the first laboratory in the region to have:
- attained accreditation through the CARTFund, the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
- been assisted towards achieving accreditation by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) functioning as the National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP)
- become accredited outside of Jamaica utilising the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC)
- earned accreditation through the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme created by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a partner in the CARTFund Project, noted that the accreditation was a particularly gratifying step, and a very important achievement for the Project.
“A major constraint to trade and market access, even where tariffs have been eliminated, is the ability to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary standards and quality requirements”, said Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division of the Caribbean Development Bank. “The Accreditation of the GRDB Central Laboratory means that the rice sector in Guyana now has access to accredited testing services. This is a significant milestone in the development of the value chain of the Rice subsector in Guyana”.
CROSQ’s CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar shared the view that this was an excellent example of countries supporting each other using specialised expertise and resources.
“This accreditation demonstrates functional regional integration as together each achieves more. It is a positive development to see how the expertise of JANAAC was brought to bear in supporting Guyana in this process. The CCA Scheme has several advantages as conformity assessment bodies receive coaching, training and development assistance towards achieving accreditation. We find this approach to be economical and practical,” said Mr. Omar.
Permanent Secretary in Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis further described the achievement of the accreditation as auspicious, because GRDB is the country’s lead agency in agriculture.
“Prior to this certification, the Guyana Rice Development Board was tasked with sending samples for testing to the USA, which roughly took two weeks for results. Today, we no longer have to take this route. Being ISO/IEC certified is a useful tool which will add credibility by demonstrating that rice coming out of Guyana meets the expectations of our buyers”, he said, reading a prepared speech from the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder.
The accreditation process began under the project in 2014 and was accelerated with receipt of a grant of US$522,401 from the CARTFund.
The objective of the CARTFund project is to strengthen the capabilities of testing laboratories in CARIFORUM Member States to provide reliable, competent, internationally recognised and affordable testing services to exporters. CROSQ and the CDB are the implementing partners for the Project.