Report of the Strategic Director, Communities and Environment, Gateshead Council
The Committee received the report to inform them of the work of the Joint Metrology Laboratory for the period to end of June 2022.
The Laboratory has undergone some staff changes with both the Laboratory Manager and Admin Assistant serving notice periods before leaving in December 2021.
The laboratory is back to its full complement of 6 staff and currently on a temporary basis the Laboratory manager and technical manager role are split between two staff. Discussions are ongoing with a longer-term plan on structure of staff and an update will be brought to a future committee.
The submissions to the laboratory have been constant and consistent with the same periods as in previous years. Turnaround times in returning work to clients with being a staff member down were increased by an additional 3 days. The turnaround times are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Local weighing machine repairers, chemical, food manufacturers, pharmaceutical and aeronautical companies continue to submit their test weights, scales and measures in for calibration. During the pandemic, many customers expressed their gratitude that they were still receiving a service as their business would suffer if this service was not provided.
The laboratory does offer the facility to companies to hire some of our test weights and there have been several hires of a few tonnes of weights over the last few months.
The Public Weighbridge is still being utilised by clients and provide an essential service to the road haulage operators, especially those sending ISO containers through the ports in line with the Safety of Live at Sea Regulations (SOLAS). The weighbridge has continued to have its six-monthly checks to ensure accuracy.
There have been no UKCA verifications submitted in this period only re-verification of existing equipment that has already been placed on the market.
The UKAS Calibration submissions have been consistent and there have been more items submitted in 2021 than the previous years.
The laboratory underwent its annual audit by UKAS in February 2022. This was the first face-to-face audit for over 2 years due to Covid restrictions and was a successful audit with only minor points raised for both mass calibrations and toy testing which have all now been signed off, so the accreditation remains in place for another year.
As was reported previously the laboratory has been appointed by Office of Product Safety and Standards as the produce safety laboratory and sample hub for the North East. Yorkshire and Humberside regions and as such have been organising the testing of products on behalf of the Local Authorities that we represent.
The laboratory has played a pivotal role in the successful prosecution of a trader who was hiring dangerous sunbeds to the public. The same trader was prosecuted by Sunderland Council many years ago before moving to Hartlepool and North Yorkshire. He continued to trade, with sunbeds from Hartlepool tested at the laboratory as part of the current prosecution, the trader will be sentenced in September.
The laboratory hosted a meeting between the Lead Officers of Metrology in the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the new Chief Executive of the Institute to establish policy on metrology provision in the UK. The visit included an open discussion with all laboratory staff and a tour of our facilities.
RESOLVED - That the information presented be noted.