AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast

Changes to AASHTO R 18

December 13, 2022 AASHTO resource Season 3 Episode 32
Show Notes Transcript

AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript

Season 3, Episode 32: Changes to AASHTO R 18

Recorded: December 2, 2022

Released: December 13, 2022

Hosts: Brian Jonson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager; Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source

Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics.

 Transcribed by Kim Swanson and MS Teams.

 [Theme music fades in.]

 [00:00:02] Announcer: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials, testing, and inspection with people in the know from exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here our host, Brian Jonson.

[00:00:21] Brian: Welcome to AASHTO Resource Q&A. I'm Brian Johnson.

[00:00:23] Kim: And I'm Kim Swanson. And today, we're going to talk about something near and dear to your heart, Brian. AASHTO R18.

[00:00:31] Brian: Yes, it is near and dear to my heart, and I've spent a lot of time with this standard. I've been working on a ballot for several years, off and on, to update quite a few sections in R 18 and it went to ballot this year. And I wanted to tell everybody who listens about how that went and what they can expect in 2023 and hopefully in 2024 with future changes.

[00:01:01] Kim: Awesome. So, some background for people. What's the most current version of AASHTO R18? When was the last time that it's been revised?

[00:01:11] Brian: The current version of R18 is 2018, but it also has a reapproval date of 2022.

[00:01:19] Kim: Alright, so that means that in 2022 this year that it has been reviewed and everyone said, Yep, it's good, no changes required.

[00:01:28] Brian: Yeah, no significant [Kim: Ok.] changes that would be considered technical in nature. I believe that's how that works.

[00:01:33] Kim: All right. And so, for some background of maybe the listeners that are not terribly familiar with what R18 is, do you want to give a little information about what R 18 is and how we use it at AASHTO re:source and how laboratories use it in their work.

[00:01:49] Brian: Well, the title is establishing and implementing a quality management system for construction materials testing laboratories. So that that's kind of it tells you what it is right there. It is a quality management system. It's called a standard practice. It's something that you can use as the basically like a template for your own quality management system, and if you allow yourself to go through section by section in AASHTO R18 and it says something like... the laboratory must have a policy that states whatever and you and you just go through that and write your own based on how it's worded. That sets you up for potentially being accredited to AASHTO R 18 and being accredited through the AASHTO Accreditation Program. So, it's kind of the baseline requirement for a quality management system for all AASHTO Accredited laboratories. There are many other quality management system standards.  Out there that we also accredit for like in ASTM, you've got C1077 and D3666 and E329 and D3740 and so on and so forth. There's a, there's quite a few others and you've got ISO/IEC 17025 and there are others out there as well, but for the AASHTO Accreditation Program, R18 is the minimum requirement.

[00:03:20] Kim: Alright. And then I know sometimes when you say minimum requirement that says that the bar is pretty low for that. At least that's I envision. So, would you say that's a fair statement that that minimum requirement is you know really the bare minimum or is that you know it's a good thing like a good minimum requirement?

[00:03:38] Brian: Oh yeah, it it's not a low bar by any means, but it is a well, we talk about accreditation, there always is some minimum requirement for getting accredited, no matter what the requirements are.  What I mean by minimum requirement is really that if you can't at least conform to that, you cannot maintain accreditation, but there is plenty in there that is difficult for people, especially the first time that they go through the accreditation process.

[00:04:08] Kim: Yeah, I know the kind of one of the first steps to becoming accredited. I know we've tell people and I tell people that, you know, like make sure you can conform to R18 because if you can't do that, then the rest of it, it's going to be an uphill battle. So make sure you can do that before you start the accreditation process, because otherwise it's going to be swimming against the current.

[00:04:29] Brian: Yeah, I would. I would agree with that. There is a requirement for internal audits in AASHTO R18. And I would say if you're going to go through the accreditation process, perform an internal audit to make sure that your quality management system is in conformance with R18 and then have your assessment, I think that rarely happens unfortunately. But when it does happen, it can make things go so smoothly for the laboratory that goes through the accreditation process.

[00:04:56] Kim: OK. So, you mentioned that you've submitted changes. So, what is your role? Are you like the controller of R 18 or how do you fit in and can anyone submit changes or why are you submitting changes, those are really stacked questions you can pick which one you want to answer.

[00:05:13] Brian: I'll try to answer all of them. I first of all, I'm not the controller of the standard so that that standard is managed by Technical Subcommittee 5C, which handles a lot of quality related standards in the AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements. Any anyone can submit a change somehow, right? Now, what you need is either a member or somebody who understands the committee activities to be able to put a ballot together and submit it. But often what happens is we are. I guess we volunteer. You know, I do. I do this to myself. I I've. I've volunteered to make these edits because there are quite a few things that I think could be enhanced and AASHTO R18 any time we see areas that are ambiguous to the users of the standard. So, laboratories who are in our program, things that they're confused about, common mistakes or misinterpretations of language that need to be rectified. Those are things that we've been collecting over the years. That's why I said it's been years putting this together. The longer I take to actually put the ballot out, the harder it becomes though, because there are so many of them and often there are interdependencies within the standard as well. So, you have to really think about a lot of things when you're putting a ballot for R18 together. And because it is the minimum requirement for AASHTO Accreditation. Any change creates a tidal wave of other changes for all the laboratories in our program. For providers of software suites that help people manage their accreditation. Other accreditation bodies that also use R18 as a basis for accreditation or an element of their accreditation, so it's used by a lot of different people. This standard and so like I don't take these recommended changes lightly when I make them, and we try to make them as useful as possible. I try not to ballot things that I don't think are going to add value.

[00:07:18] Kim: Yeah, that makes sense. And especially since, as you were saying, it takes a while to do this. In this last update really hasn't been since 2018. That's a lot of years and we've learned a lot of things about it. It's one of those continual improvement things like we know the standards, this standard in particular isn't complete. It's just complete for now. And then it's going to change and evolve and grow.

[00:07:41] Brian: Quality never stops. As you know, continual improvement is the goal and you're never done, right? We're going to learn new things about how these are implemented things, will change outside of the document that the force other changes to occur.  This is just one step in a long, long process to get this document to be improved overtime, but no, there's no there's no goal line. The process is the goal.

[00:08:09] Kim: Speaking of process, where are you currently in the process of these current changes?  

[00:08:14] Brian: I had a big ballot, and I was getting some suggestions from people outside of what I had put together pretty recently.  Before I had gotten the ballot out and I knew that it was really the one change was really important to the people who suggest who suggested the change.  So, I split that ballot up into three parts, so one part covered the and this was a member. It was state dot really wanted to see this one change happen, so I prioritized that as a separate ballot that pass. And I'll talk about that in a minute. There was another section that I wasn't as confident about, and I figured this is probably going to get negatives.  And, surprise-surprise, it passed.  And then the big ballot was all the rest of the changes and I felt. Reasonably confident about that getting through - through some conversations I had with other people, but it did not pass. So, miscalculation on my part on some of the way I split it up. I probably should have split it up more.  But I also want to make it easier for the people who are reading the ballot. So, I didn't want to split into. I could. I could have split it into 30 parts if I wanted to.  That that's a lot of effort on my part though, which we probably would have a month with no podcast episodes. I would think if I had to do that, and it would have made it harder for people to actually review the ballot. And I don't want people to skip these ballots because they are important. So, I try to make it as easy for people as possible, even though it's like it's a big document, so it's not going to be super easy.  But I also when I put together these ballots, I try to make a really straightforward rationale document with the with the one that included so many changes. So, I'd say, OK, here's the change being recommended. This is why I think this is important to do it and then uh, that can help people kind of guide them through the document. And it's also laid out in order so that they can just kind of like have them both open and go down and say, OK, I understand why this person is balloting this. And I think this makes sense or I don't agree with this. So, I'm going to vote negative.

[00:10:31] Kim: And so, who's voting on these? I think you touched on it earlier, but I just to be clear, who's voting on these ballots?

[00:10:38] Brian: The voters are the members of AASHTO’s Committee on Materials and Pavements, so those would be the DOT. There are other, friends of committees that can submit comments. I would call those votes as well. They don't count necessarily in the total calculation of whether something passes or not, but they count in that the chair and other members are very interested in their input, so even if they don't have an official vote, if they say I don't really like this one item because of this, you know this, whatever their issue is with it, that will likely factor into the determination of whether that moves forward or needs to go back and edit get edited further.

[00:11:19] Kim: That makes sense.  So just.  For clarity, because I think I know the answer to this, but our listeners might - So, who really within the DOTS are members of COMP?

[00:00:00] Brian: It varies by DOT, but it it's usually somebody in the materials department, so you might be the head of the Materials Department, whatever that is called at that particular DOT, but some of them will distribute the ballot to their staff.  And get comments and then submit those and some of them I've seen will have. I'll see multiple returns from the same state. Now they can only count once.  But that tells me that they are voting. If I see two of them from the same state, so that that does mean that there's some differences in the way that it's handled, but either way, it's all positive, I mean.  I would like to get as much comment as I can and from those voters, even if they are negative, that's part of the process. I mean, I would have liked to see it go forward as is, but I do understand there was some confusion about some of it and some of it I really agree with the negative that came forward and I don't, I'm not in their shoes. So, I don't know what they're dealing with, and it was kind of eye opening to see some of the comments that were submitted in in the negatives.

[00:12:45] Kim: That's good to know. Yeah. I I just wanted to clarify that it's the people voting and responding are knowledgeable in this. It's not, you know, some random person that they actually have background in this standard and in this industry that it's not necessarily random. 

[00:13:02] Brian: You know somebody is going to be qualified at that materials department to submit reasonable comments negatives [Kim: Yeah.] affirmatives.

[00:13:10] Kim: Alright. I think we have enough background of this. You mentioned one of the ballots that you submitted passed, or you two of them passed. So, what do you want to talk about first the first one?

[00:13:22] Brian: Yes, the first one. [Laughing.]

[00:13:25] Kim: I don't know what they are, [Brian: I know, I know.] so I don't know how to ask that question, but there you go.

[00:13:29] Brian: Yeah, sorry I was very vague about how I how I was putting this together. So, the first thing I want to tell you about is the two of the three ballots that pass. Will result in a 2023 version of AASHTO R18 that will be out next year.  Those changes are pretty simple. The one is I can. I can tell you everything you need to know about it in a sentence.  It's a change to the interval for standardization of compression machines. And the current interval is 12 months, so those compression machines at the laboratory would have to be standardized every 12 months. People usually use outside agencies to carry out that activity.  There's a standard that.  Most of those agencies use called ASTM E4, and E4 has a statement about the interval where it says it should be 12 months, but it could be up to 18 months. So.  The request that was made to me by one of the Members is to try to get that R18 interval to match E4 because they were having some issues with standards being out of sync with each other. So, what I did is I put a footnote in the table. That says that even though it's 12 months, it could be up to 18 months. Now. That doesn't mean that the interval is 18 months, though. I think I need to make that clear.  The interval is still 12 months, but due to scheduling and other complications it could go a little longer and get up to 18 months. So don't know everybody go into your R18 tables and change the interval to 18 months. That would be a mistake. You want to keep it at 12, just know that you have a little wiggle room there. If things don't work out the way you intended. And I also before I move on, I want to say that that footnote in a table is mandatory language.  A note in the text is non mandatory language. That's just a little peculiarity with standards development that they could be confusing for people.  

[00:15:34] Kim: Every time there's a question, I'm like, is that mandatory? Not mandatory? Suggested? I don't know. So, I'm glad you know and explained that so....

[00:16:43] Brian: Let's go to the second item. How about that? [Kim: Yeah.] [Laughing.]  So, the second item was another equipment table issue. I put a new steel equipment table together based on requirements from the standards that we accredit for.  So, some of those already had intervals for standardization or checks in them or they were intervals were derived from other general equipment that was already R18, but now there will be a specific steel testing equipment table in R 18. So, that'll be in that 2023 version as well.

[00:16:24] Kim: So that new table didn't like come up with new requirements. It just put all of their existing requirements in one place and made them officially part of R 18 as opposed to other ones or what?

[00:16:37] Brian: Yeah, it depends how you look at it. Because if I, I would say that it is it was a collection of existing requirements for the most part.  But if you didn't know that those were requirements to begin with, then it will feel like a new requirement.

[00:16:57] Kim: Gotcha.

[00:16:54] Brian: Some of them, I think will probably be a surprise. Like the calibration we requirement for some of the hardness tests equipment they were they were in the standards already, but I wonder if everybody knew that. So, I'll be I'll be curious to see how those are received once we start assessing for them. And I and I know that's the probably your next question is when will we start assessing for this? So once the standard comes out, so it will come out next year I believe in the late summer slash fall time period then everybody gets it in their hands, and they start making adjustments and then we start looking at those too. Now obviously the interval change is nothing if you're already.  You should already be in conformance; it just gives you a little bit more room. But the steel part will require some changes as far as just updating your own quality management system to address those items, because when there is when there are items in those tables, that means that you your records.  Have to conform to our 18 requirements as well, so you may have been doing some of those things before per the standard, but let's say.  Look. There's a standard that says, OK, you have to standardize this equipment, but it might not have any requirements for records.  So, OK, well, the A sticker was probably fine, but because it's in R 18, you now have to have a record that has certain items on it, which are there obvious items from a calibration provider's perspective. And if you're already in conformance with R18, they should be what you have in all of your templates, so it should be pretty straightforward too, but it's just something that you have to add to your tables if you aren't. If if you aren't already managing those that way.

[00:18:42] Kim: All right. So if the 2023 version of this is going to be released late summer, early fall and then the AASHTO Accreditation Program and AASHTO re:source Laboratory Assessment program will start enforcing those later that year, early 2024 around that time?

[00:19:01] Brian: I would expect 2024 so that people can g et some time to adjust.  I you know, we have to update everything, train our staff, give people some time. Depending on what kind of comments, I think it's going to be pretty easy. So I don't think people need a lot of time to make adjustments for those changes. If it was the big ballot that went through though, we probably would give them more time, possibly up to a year. But that would be something we have to work out with our oversight committee to see what they think is reasonable way to implement those changes.

[00:19:38] Kim: So, before we get into those, the big ballot that didn't pass and those changes.  If listener is part of a laboratory that those changes that are going to be coming out in 2023. If that doesn't really impact them, if they don't do steel testing so they don't have that equipment or and the other one was just an interval change, do they then have to buy that standard again? For the updated standard, even though those changes don't impact them.

[00:20:06] Brian: Yeah. I mean, they have to have the current versions of the standards. There are also updated section references and there are typically editorial changes that go in. But that that is a good question and a fair question if it doesn't. If it doesn't relate to them, do they have to get the updated version? But our standard has always been that you have to have the updated versions of the standards, period. So, whether you think it's relevant or not doesn't really matter. You have to have the updated standards if you're AASHTO Accredited. Fair question though.

[00:20:34] Kim: I will say I knew the answer to that question [Brian: Yeah.] before I asked it, but I thought it was still a value all right... Now let's dive into your misjudgment of the ones that didn't pass the ballot that didn't pass. Where is that in the process of standards development and balloting changes? Like, where are you with that?

[00:20:53] Brian: Where I'm at is I need to reach out to all the negative voters and go over this. So, we did have a mid-year meeting for technical subcommittee 5C where I was able to express some of my thoughts on the more general concerns that some people stated, and I'm going to express those with our listeners now so that they can hear what those what those were.  But I need to reach out to everybody individually and say, OK, I'm going to make these changes.  And then I'm going to re-ballot.  With all of this, I'll probably break it up based on.  Where the pain points were for people so that the easy ones can go through. Because I do think that the clarification, they provide is going to be very useful for all users of R18.  If I could have done it over again, I would have taken two of the sections out of the big ballot in and put them out separately. But I did not expect them to get as many negatives as they got. Now, I still think it did well.  But I just I thought ohh maybe they'll be one or two and I could probably overcome those. But I don't think that was going to happen because I put them all together.

[00:22:07] Kim: So, you're going to address some of the comments and issues with what you currently have and then break it up into two different ballots to try to get it again, at least get some of it through. So when....

[00:00:00] Brian: Yeah, probably. Yeah, probably 3 ballots. [Kim: 3. Ok.] I'm thinking for this one at least at least three. But, but yeah, it'll be a combination of me changing what I had based on the comments and me trying to convince them that they should vote affirmative next time, even though they want a negative last time.

[00:22:35] Kim: Gotcha. And so, with that process of breaking it up into different ballots. Will there be more changes the 2023 version based on if you can get those smaller ballots to pass ? Or is it no matter what is it 2023 version kind of like set and then now you're looking forward based on that.

[00:22:55] Brian: Yeah, that latter part that you said is correct. So AASHTO Publications and we're going to actually have preview. We are going to have an episode with AASHTO Publications. Talk about what they do, but they run a very tight schedule for production and editing of the standard. So, everything that went through... So, two of the three of those are going to get published in 2023, no matter what happens with the other stuff that failed, they're not getting into 2023. So. All of these little improvements that I made sadly will have to be delayed another year.

[00:23:32] Kim: Realistically, there's going to be a new standard in 2023 with the changes that you mentioned, and then there will likely be a new standard in 2024 with the changes that you're hoping to get passed through now that you're still in the middle of.

[00:23:47] Brian: That I that's what I anticipate.  But I'm optimistic, which might surprise some people.

[00:23:50] Kim: OK, so. You're breaking it up and you said you're going to share with us some of the concerns with what you've proposed.

[00:23:58] Brian: Yeah. So, I'll, I'll talk about the two big ones that people were a little concerned about because I think that even though it's not in 2023 that it's a good time to prepare for this. So, the big one that I feel that I feel the strongest that should be in R18 was a requirement to train any technical staff that performs equipment checks and standardizations internally at the laboratory. So, there are a lot of pieces of equipment. Of equipment where you have a technician, or you know either field or a lab technician performing the equipment checks at a regular interval.  Creating records and those are part of the quality management system. Those are some of the most falsified records that we see and one reason for falsification is lack of training. But what it usually comes down to is lack of understanding of what that person was supposed to do. They may have been given a record and the equipment to do whatever it is that they need to do, but very little instruction and the procedures are not detailed enough for them to know what to do.  So, you will see situations where the technician looks at the last record and tries to figure out, how do I reproduce that? Well, some of them reproduce it by just copying the numbers over. You know, they may try to take the measurements and in this in in this I feel bad for people when this happens.  But I remember one situation very clearly where the person tried to reproduce the numbers, they actually did take the measurements, but they tried to adjust the instrument so that it would read exactly what it read last time. So, like, put a little more pressure on the caliper . Mess around with something so that it looks right, and then they just write it down. So, because they think that's what's expected, they might not know what the tolerance is. They just know that it's supposed to be that. So that's the worst thing you can do, really, when you're taking any observation, putting a record together, you need to just do whatever you're supposed to do. Write down the number that you see. That's it. You have done your job at that point.  And it shouldn't be that hard, but I think some people they feel pressured, and they don't. They also don't want to ask how to do it because they feel like they probably should already know. So that it's not a great situation to be in from a technician’s perspective. And I do. I do feel bad for me. It's not always like malicious falsification. Usually when you hear falsification, you think, oh, this is a fraudulent action, and it is but it's sometimes it's a little. It's a little more complicated like, well, like everything, right. Things are never as simple as you think they're going to be. [Kim: Yeah.] So anyway, that's a long story to get into why I feel this is important, that there be a requirement on a team for technicians to be trained on how to perform those activities and document that training have a record that says OK, on this date, this person trained this person on how to do this.  The negatives that I receive, there was a big misconception about what training means. On the part of some of the negative voters.  I think a common theme was that they don't have a certification program for this.  From a DOT’s perspective, when they look at training and competency evaluation, they often couple it with a certification expectation and my response was that there are no certification requirements anywhere in R 18 to begin with and I did not put the word certification in the ballot at all. So, I was a little confused when I got the negative votes that I got.  Others mentioned something about, you know, who's qualified to train the person and I think that's a fair question, but I think like everything you have to, somebody had to exist like you, you have a condition where you already doing this.  Because you're accredited, so somebody knows how to do it.  And they should be able to train that person. The next person that how to do it and it could also put people in a situation to be thinking about this and get themselves set up for success in the future. They think. Ohh boy, I'm looking at these, you know, our roster, people who in, in what they can do, and we have with this one person who's about to retire. That is always been doing this. Well, let's train the next person on how to do it so that we aren't left in a bad situation next year after this person retires.

[00:28:31] Kim: So, would this proposed change mean that every technician had to be trained in this or that you just had at least one technician that is trained in this?

[00:28:39] Brian: Yeah. The only person they would need to be trained as the person who's doing that activity. So, you it would most likely be one person now for field equipment. It probably would be a good idea to have more than one person because there's so much field equipment and you may even want to try to train some of the field technicians on how to do that. Maybe you want to have a team put together that is, you know, senior field technicians that kind of manage that help you manage that process too and kind of wrangle all of the other field technicians together to get their equipment to come back in.  I don't know. I just look at this as a way.  A way to make a a pretty significant quality improvement.  By just doing something they shouldn't really take that much time. When it comes down to it, and it seems like an obvious thing that you would want to do anyway.

[00:29:31] Kim: What other changes can you tell us about - or proposed changes, can you tell us about and give us an insight on?

[00:29:36] Brian: The other change that I did not, I would say you know to answer your question, the classic Kim Swanson question of what I was surprised by? I was most surprised by the other item that caught the most negatives and that was a requirement to have a policy on vendor evaluations and approval. Because I thought the dot were already doing that and in some cases they are. And I'd say in most cases they are in some way. But for some   they have a whole department in the state government that handles. You know, vendor approvals and contracts and all this other stuff. So, there may or may not be the appropriate amount of engagement with the materials department when selecting these vendors to satisfy the R18 requirement. So, I think there's some consternation there as to whether or not that should be in R18, but I again, I would go back to this if that is the situation that you're dealing with, this could really help you.  This could be a benefit to have that kind of requirement in and say look.  I need to conform to this requirement, so you need to engage with me so that we can talk about this approval. If there's a problem, of course. Like if there's no problem, I understand somebody not being that worried about it. But if the people making the decision aren't thinking about any quality related and maybe they're just picking like the low bid, then I could see that being a real quality improvement for the testing laboratory.

[00:31:12] Kim:   why is it important that testing laboratories are more involved in the vendor selection process? Why is that important to the quality?

[00:31:19] Brian: Well, there are requirements for what those vendors are doing or the type of equipment they're being that they're providing. You know, you could different vendors who sell things from the same manufacturer even and there could be wide ranges of quality. On those, those different pieces.  If you're a testing lab and you continue to get low quality, you know or poor performing equipment, because of the way that the fulfillment is being handled.  That's a real problem for you.  And if you have a chance to have a say in it that that could lead to more efficiency at your lab, more consistent test results.  And it just general improvement and in morale too, you know, technicians are not happy when they they're using poor quality equipment generally. So, if you have some say in it, I think that's a good thing.

[00:32:21] Kim: That makes sense. What are your next steps? I guess after this you kind of touched on those already of re-balloting those? But are there any other additional steps that you can take or that you would want to pass on to our listeners that they should be taking in the years to come?

[00:32:38] Brian: I did want to comment on one other thing before we get into that, if that's OK.

[00:32:42] Kim: Yeah.

[00:32:43] Brian: There was something that I put into the R18 ballot that's not going to be in there this time, but I'm hoping is in the next one and it's related to ethics.  And you know, we already talked about falsification, and I think it's really important as an accreditation program that we have the standard site, something about ethical implementation of these requirements. So, what I mean by that is.  I talked about when you observe something and you write it down on the record, you know that's what your responsibility is, right? But we do run into issues where that doesn't happen. And I think that having a like a codification of that is good because when we run into it, we have wording to point to, for someone to understand why they have to follow in at the. I know that sounds absurd.  That you would have to do that, but. Where in a situation where we get asked questions, where does it say I have to do that?  And then I can say right here, it says I t says and I don't want to read this to you. This was in the ballot, and I'm hoping that this language, at least something close to it stays. So, it says “the intent of a quality management system is to establish an operational system that facilitates the production of accurate test results. Therefore, effective implementation of equality management system requires integrity and ethical behavior by all parties involved in recording data and other information that is pertinent to the laboratory operations.  Intentional failure to report all data and information regarding laboratory operations accurately indicates a failure in the effectiveness and implementation of the quality management system, and noncompliance with the standard.” So, that noncompliance part I think, is important to say to someone that you are no longer in conformance with the standard when you intentionally misrepresent something. Now, we could probably improve that as I was reading it, I already picked out some areas that I could probably make it a little more concise, which I know that is one of your superpowers. So, I might ask you for a little help before the next ballot, but it. But it's important for people to know that you have to do things the right way or you didn't do them, you know, just like the management review, people are like, why?  Why didn't you accept this management review? And I said, well, well, was management involved in it? No. OK. Then it wasn't a management review. It's kind of it's kind of one of those situations where you didn't really do it. So, we're not going to accept it even though you're showing me this piece of paper that says that you did something.

[00:35:19] Kim: So, for clarification, this ethics addition to R18 is just one of the proposed changes that you're hoping to get in 2024 that is not in the works currently.

[00:35:32] Brian: That's not going to be in there, but I also want to say that it doesn't mean that you can falsify records until that goes in. Not that anybody listening to this would do that. If you're, if you're taking the time to even listen to this, I'm not really worried about you.  But ohh one other thing that I wanted to mention. Well, two other things. So, there's an illusion made, not an allusion made to the existence of complaints in our AASHTO R18. So, complaints have to be discussed, but there isn't a complaint section, oddly, so there was just a little complaint section put in there, and I know a lot of people say we don't really get complaints, but...

[00:36:11] Kim: Is the addition of complaints in the 2023 version or just a proposed change?

[00:36:16] Brian: Just the proposed change that won't be in, but I I think that one will be. No, I don't. I don't believe I got any negatives on that. Well, maybe I got one.

[00:36:22] Kim: So that will be broken up [Brian: Yeah.] into the easy to pass ballot moving forward.

[00:36:27] Brian: I don't know what's going to happen with that one, but I expect that one to make it through because it's already, it's already mentioned and it's just making it more clear that it exists.  There's some other things that we put in there that were that exist in our policy and guidance documents currently for AASHTO Accreditation that we tried to put right into R 18 and I think that's really what we want to do with a lot of those policy and guidance documents is get more of those requirements in either R18 or the AAP  Procedures manual. So that you don't have to go looking all over the place for different information. Last item I'm going to mention about what didn't get in there, which I this I was really kicking myself for not splitting this one out is I removed all of the examples from R 18. 

[00:37:18] Kim: That seems like a big change to me. My eyes, just like you. No one can see me, but my eyes just got wide. So, explain the rationale of why that's a good thing and that you want that to happen.

[00:37:27] Brian: So, the rationale is that it's really hard to make updates to the standard.  And people need good examples.  That means we should probably be updating those examples more frequently, and they're also just examples, there not... It's not a requirement, it's an example. What's happened over the years with those examples is people confuse them with requirements. First of all, that's the worst is because people will take it. There was this old example in there about how often technician competency evaluations needed to occur. And it said that every six months.  Well, no one does that. That's way too frequent for something like that and.  You'll still, though see a quality management system says. The exact wording that was in the example and it's not being followed. So, then it's a nonconformity. Well, we really want to do is drive people to a point where they make their policy meet the, like I said, minimum requirement in R18 and have it work for them.  So, they actually use it. That is the thing I think we really need to get away from people just using the examples that are provided. And think about the requirement, think about their own staff, their own needs and make a policy and procedure that works for them. If it makes sense to you and it works for you and it's.  Is it? I'll say easy, easy to implement and implement. You will do it.  But if you make it, if you follow some convoluted example that is really old and it doesn't make sense for your organization, then it's going to be hard for you to do it.

[00:39:05] Kim: OK so.  What were examples, what our examples in R18 just intended to be informational purposes of potential layout of a document or potential wording of a policy was being interpreted by the users as a requirement [Brian: Right.] is that am I understanding that correctly?

[00:39:27] Brian: That's right. And in some cases, the examples are poor because they had to fit on a, you know, a 1   sheet example, like in the figure. So, the two worst ones I'd say are the internal audit and the management review examples. Those should be way longer than one page if you're doing a good job, do not use those examples. Those are just showing the absolute minimum requirement that could exist, but there's also they're also not filled out.  So, like if you filled it out, it would bump you down to multiple pages. Anyway, if you did it right. I also want to point out, even with removal of those examples.  We would plan on either hosting other examples that people need help with.  On either AASHTO resource website or on the COMP website, some or maybe even on AASHTO Publications website. I mean, we would want available. We want some examples available somewhere so that if people were confused, they could see what one might use, but we would want to really make those nice and usable. But not to the point where they're so usable that somebody could just say, you know, copy and dump it into theirs and just run with it, you know, they'd still we want to put prompts for making it work for them. 

[00:40:45] Kim: That was going to be my next question. If you're proposing the removal of all of these examples, what was going to happen? Like, where would people go? And so that the details of that have not been worked out, but you're not intending to just remove them and let people fend for themselves. 

[00:41:01] Brian: Not entirely. I mean, I think the changes in R 18 are specific enough that it'll be easier for people to fend for themselves. But I know that there are some things where they just say, you know, what are other people doing. And I want, you know, I'm just curious as I write mine and that would give them an opportunity to look at something like that.

[00:41:17] Kim: All right. So, although that change is not going to be seen in the 2023 version. Hopefully that will be in the 2024 version of R 18. So, my final question is, what do you recommend laboratories or listeners do with this information that they just learned today about the upcoming changes. What are their next steps and how to prepare for these changes and what do you want them to do after this?

[00:41:44] Brian: One thing they could do is start updating their quality management system to address the one item that did best related to the interval. If they want to, they don't have to because it just like I said, it just gives them a little more room. The second thing is just watch out for the latest version of R18 when it comes out in 2023 in the fall and I'm sure we'll notify people about that or AASHTO Publications will, somebody will. Just to make sure that they're aware that there are some changes so, so like right now, they don't really have to do much. But I would like them to think about what I was discussing earlier related to training staff that's performing those equipment checks, I would even if that doesn't pass. Next I I expect it to pass next time because I hope that we can. We can find some consensus.   Among those voting on it and some understanding that that that will get support next time. So, but even if it doesn't it's a good thing to do. So, I would suggest that they add that to their program now to avoid potential pitfalls later.

[00:42:50] Kim: All right. And I lied because that was not my last question. My actual lesson, my actual last question is, are there any other changes or updates to R 18 that maybe you're not involved with, but that you know of from committee work that might be coming down the line?

[00:43:05] Brian: There are not that I'm aware of, but it doesn't mean that there aren't though, because like I said, anybody could be putting a ballot together on the committee, and even though they did not notify me of those changes, there could be something coming down that I'm not aware of.

[00:043:22] Kim: OK. And then again, I'm just, you know, Pinocchio over here. Last question for real this time is that if anybody that's maybe not a member of COMP or is does not work with the DOT, how would they propose a change of Tari teen? What should they do if they are working with the document with R 18 I guess or any standard AASHTO standard, how can their voice be heard and a suggestion for a change be made?  On their behalf.

[00:43:52] Brian: If it's a laboratory in our program. If they want, they can go through us and suggest that that we include it, you know, R18 in particular. I don't really want to see a bunch of ballots out there that I'm not aware of because then I have to go back. And if one of them passes, I have to go back and revise that whole thing again based on the new version, which I don't really want to do. So that's a little selfish there. But I'd also think it would be well received if it was part of this package and not some other thing because everybody's already aware of this massive effort going on.  And their idea would probably be a little bit more well received if it's included with that rather than a totally separate.  It item that comes through that they weren't aware of.

[00:44:40] Kim: So, for customers within the AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation customers, you recommend that they reach out to a staff member or and pass on their ideas for proposed change? What if they're not part of our programs and are just a listener of this podcast because they love quality?

[00:45:00] Brian: Yeah, I didn't. I didn't fully answer the question because I got sidetracked as I as I do at times. But really what they could do is they could reach out to a member of COMP. So, if you go to the AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavement COMP website. And you can then look at the committees and the and see which committees there are, and which standards are and you can go to Members and you can actually find the contact information for committee members, chairs, vice chairs, liaisons. You also have Casey Soneira.  Available. Who you could send some recommendations to, but it's good to go through the committee for most things I don't really want to be the I. I don't think Ashley Resources necessary necessarily where you want to send things.  But like I said, for R18 I would do that this time though.  While something's going on, but after this is all over, you can go straight through the committee.

[00:45:59] Kim: All right. And then the COMP’s website is materials.transportation.org.  Thank you very much for explaining all of this and here you thought it was going to be a short episode, Brian.

[00:46:10] Brian: Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. I I really did when we were going in, I was like, I don't know how long this is going to be. And here we are pushing an hour talking about this.

[00:46:19] Kim: And yes, an hour of recording time. I hope that this final edit is less than an hour. We'll see what I do with that. But again, thank you for sharing some insight and background about R18 and changes coming up. I appreciate all of your work for this. So, thank you.

[00:46:34] Brian: Thanks. It's great being interviewed. And not and not being the one asking the questions sometimes.

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