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RICE Frequently Asked Questions

RICE

Welcome to the 'Frequently Asked Questions' pages of our website. As a Proficiency Testing provider for over 20 years, HSE Testing and monitoring has considerable experience in dealing with customer enquiries regarding all aspects of proficiency testing. We have gathered together the most commonly asked questions with their answers. This is designed to answer most routine enquiries, but we appreciate that not all eventualities are covered here. If you can't find the question or answer you are looking for, please e-mail it to us via proficiency.testing@hsl.gsi.gov.uk and we will be happy to help.

General

1. How are your schemes organised?

2. Where do you source your test materials?

3. Where do I find the scheme handbook?

4. How do I join a scheme?

5. How often do I need to participate?

6. Can I participate in only one round?

7. Can I still participate if the round has already started?

8. Can you guarantee my laboratory's confidentiality?

9. Do you use Advisors or Steering Committees?

10. How can I receive advice and feedback?

Payment

11. What are the fees for participation?

12. What are my payment options?

Courier

13. How are HSE PT test materials packaged and transported?

Analysis & Reporting

14. Do I have to use specific methods to analyse the test materials?

15. When will I receive my samples?

16. How long do I have to analyse the samples?

17. Do I have to report my results within a specific timescale?

18. How do I submit my round results?

19. What do I do if I submit the wrong results?

20. Can I have an extension?

21. I want to query my results how do I do this?

22. What score is satisfactory/ unsatisfactory?

23. What are my options if my score is unsatisfactory?

24. How do I receive my round report?

25. How do I get copies of past round reports?

26. I want to appeal against my score how do I do this?

RICE QC Samples

27. I am a new laboratory, how can I become accredited more quickly?

28. Can you provide samples for training purposes?

Further Help

29. I can't find my answer here - how do I contact you?

 

General

1. How are your schemes organised?

The day-to-day operation of each scheme is the responsibility of HSE's Proficiency Testing Team. Individual schemes are managed by a team of PT Scheme Coordinators, to cover reporting, customer service and technical functions.

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2. Where do you source your test materials?

The test materials are prepared and/or manufactured by HSE Testing and monitoring. Where this is not possible, test materials are carefully sourced to meet the needs of the specific PT scheme. Wherever practical, test materials will be as similar as possible to those routinely tested by participating laboratories. However, in some cases, in order to achieve the required degree of homogeneity and stability, test materials may be in the form of simulated matrices. The range of materials will be varied from round to round in order to be realistic and challenging.

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3. Where do I find the scheme handbook?

A copy of the RICE handbook can be found here.

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4. How do I join a scheme?

Participants are advised to participate in the scheme(s) that are most appropriate to their own area of testing. Where necessary, staff at HSE Testing and monitoring can advise on which scheme is most suitable for participants.  For each scheme, an order form is available please email proficiency.testing@hsl.gsi.gov.uk stating which scheme you would like to join.

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5. How often do I need to participate?

The RICE schedules can be found here.

Participants enrol for the whole year of the schemes as scoring is generally cumulative.

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6. Can I participate in only one round?

Due to the scoring systems it is not possible to only participate in one individual PT round, performance is assessed over a series of rounds ( RICE Schedule).

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7. Can I still participate if the round has already started?

It may still be possible to join in the current round if it has already started, providing you are confident that you can receive the samples, analyse and submit the results by the deadline. To request an order form, please contact us.

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8. Can you guarantee my laboratory's confidentiality?

In order to ensure confidentiality, participants in all HSL PT schemes are allocated a unique HSE PT laboratory number. This number enables results to be reported without divulging the identities of participant laboratories. Only the HSE PT team and the laboratory itself know this number. Results and participant details are submitted to the scheme administrators in confidence and are not revealed to any third party except where required to do so by law, for example in association with a criminal prosecution.

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9. Do you use Advisors or Steering Committees?

Yes depending upon the scheme in question. Advisors are selected on the basis of their technical knowledge and experience of the industry to which the scheme is related. Advisors may be used on an ad-hoc basis and contacted when specific issues need to be addressed. Alternatively, formal committees may be used. In the UK, the Fibre Proficiency Testing Steering Committee (FPTSC) consists of members who may or may not be participants on the AIMS and/or RICE schemes but who are experienced in the field of testing covered by the asbestos PT schemes. This committee reports back to HSE and UKAS via it's parent committee the, 'Committee for Fibre Measurement' (CFM). The composition and terms of reference of each committee is agreed on a scheme-by-scheme basis. Membership of the FPTSC is subject to change but current committee members' names and details of the committee will be made available shortly.

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10. How can I receive advice and feedback?

Communication with participants will be carried out through scheme-related documentation, e-mails, letters, newsletters, memos. From time to time open meetings may also be organised and interested parties will be invited to attend.

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Payment

11. What are the fees for participation?

Fees for participation are reviewed annually and the current fees for each scheme are available on application. Payment terms are detailed on the order forms and invoices. Participants are advised that delays with payments may result in test materials and reports being withheld until full payment is made.

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12. What are my payment options?

You can call us on 0203 028 3382 to make a payment by credit/ debit card (I'm afraid we don't currently accept American Express).

You can make a BACS payment

We can send you an invoice.

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Courier

13. How are HSL PT test materials packaged and transported?

Test materials are sent in appropriate packaging and under conditions intended to protect the contents during transit.

Samples for the RICE scheme are sent using Royal Mail Next Day Delivery service, participants are asked to check the contents of packages immediately on receipt and to contact HSE's PT team if there are any problems with the condition of the test slides received. Please Note: It is extremely important if you receive slides and there are breakages you must inform the HSE PT Team immediately.

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Analysis & Reporting

14. Do I have to use specific methods to analyse the test materials?

The test method used to analyse the RICE slides is based upon HSG248 'Asbestos: The analysts' guide for sampling, analysis and clearance procedures' using the WHO counting rules. Further information can be found in the RICE handbook.

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15. When will I receive my samples?

Programme schedules for each of RICE can be found here.

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16. How long do I have to analyse the samples?

The specified schedule for RICE can be found here.  However, participants have approximately 20 working days to analyse their samples.

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17. Do I have to report my results within a specific timescale?

HSL asbestos PT scheme round information is sent to participants along with their samples and the deadlines (see RICE schedule). Round deadlines are specified for the return of results, to ensure the timely issue of individual round result scores and reports to participants.

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18. How do I submit my round results?

A result form will be emailed to you at the start of each round (an Excel spread sheet).  All relevant fields must be completed and the form returned to the proficiency.testing@hsl.gsi.gov.uk before the deadline date for your laboratory.  Participants must ensure that the file name of the spread sheet is not changed in any way.

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19. What do I do if I submit the wrong results?

Part of the proficiency testing process is the correct completion of result forms and accurate submission of round results. If the deadline has passed and the round has closed, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done if results have been incorrectly submitted and the results cannot be changed. It is the participant's responsibility to ensure they submit the correct results onto the system. Should the wrong results for a participant be entered, the issue can be highlighted to the relevant accreditation body and further advice regarding reporting of results and quality control processes may be obtained.

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20. Can I have an extension?

No not routinely, only in extreme circumstances will an extension to a PT round deadline be granted, this is at the discretion of HSE and may not always be given. Participants should abide by the scheme schedules and plan their participation to adhere to the scheme guidelines and defined dates available on the HSE PT web pages.

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21. I want to query my results how do I do this?

Any query regarding slide counts or reference values after the results have been published, should be sent in writing. Queries regarding round scores for RICE must be sent to the RICE PT administrator within 20 working days of the date of issue of round reports. The RICE PT team will carry out initial investigations following receipt of written queries. Appeals against penalty scores are investigated in the first instance by the RICE PT team and a response sent in writing by email to the participant.

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22. What score is satisfactory/ unsatisfactory?

Please see our Information Book for Participants for more details on the RICE scoring system.

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23. What are my options if my score is unsatisfactory?

If a participant becomes unsatisfactory then it is their responsibility to contact and seek advice from their relevant accreditation body.

We may be able to provide additional batches of slides for training purposes, please note that these are subject to availability.  If you would like to request an order form, please contact us.

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24. How do I receive my round report?

Provisional reports will be emailed to customers within (10) days from receipt of results.  Certificates are issued at the end of each round and will contain performance-scoring relating to the last four rounds of slide counts submitted. HSE Testing and monitoring will provide participants with their certificates as soon as possible at the completion of a round.

Participants should be aware that delays with payments may result in test materials and reports being withheld until payment is made.

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25. How do I get copies of past round reports?

Past round reports can be purchased from HSE Testing and monitoring.  To request an order form, please contact us.  You will need to return the order form, quoting which report you require.  Please note that full payment will need to be made in full before your report is despatched.

Participants must be aware that failure to pay scheme fees will result in this service being unavailable.

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26. I want to appeal against my score how do I do this?

Queries, appeals and complaints against round scores must be made in writing to the PT administration team. These will be forwarded to and considered by the FPTSC at the next available meeting. The query, appeal or complaint will be acknowledged and the participant will be informed of receipt and the date for consideration. The decision of the FPTSC will be sent to them as soon as possible. If the participant then wishes to appeal against this decision, then this also must be in writing to the RICE PT administrator. The further appeal will then be considered at the next meeting of the FPTSC's parent body, the Committee of Fibre Measurement (CFM). The participant will be informed of the process, and can make further submissions prior to the meeting. The CFM's decision is final and the participant will be informed of the outcome in writing.

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RICE QC Samples

27. I am a new laboratory, how can I become accredited more quickly?

You should contact your assessor to get advice.  If you require additional slides to help with your accreditation, please contact us for order form.  Please note that these are subject to availability.

Return to RICE QC Samples Questions

28. Can you provide samples for training purposes?

If you require additional slides to assist with training requirements, please contact us for order form.  Please note that these are subject to availability.

Return to RICE QC Samples Questions

Further Help

29.  I can't find my answer here - how do I contact you?

Please email your query to proficiency.testing@hsl.gsi.gov.uk

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