What standards & regulations affect a construction & engineering lab?

What standards & regulations affect a construction & engineering lab? | LabLynx Resources

Standardized test methods used by construction and engineering laboratories

Like other materials testing labs, well-run construction and engineering labs are dependent on standard-based analytical methods developed with the input of the international community. The use of those standardized test methods may be mandated as part of the lab’s efforts towards maintaining accreditation to a laboratory-based quality standard such as ISO/IEC 17025 or ISO 9000, or voluntarily adopted by the lab as part of an organization-driven set of industry best practices.

Interestingly, it appears that labs performing construction and geotechnical testing have roughly a 50 percent chance of being ISO/IEC 17025- or ISO 9000-certified, with those not having this certification opting for more industry-relevant or localized certifications with, for example, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) or a state-level department of transportation (DoT). (Source: personal research.) If the lab is limiting its clientele to entities within the state, it likely makes more sense for the lab to simply focus on something like AASHTO accreditation for the lab’s specific set of tests, as the costs of getting accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 for local work may not make sense. This gets even more complicated as accreditation standards can vary across cities and states, as well as across more national and internationally focused accreditation bodies. This variance can be slight but just enough to force these types of labs to certify with multiple entities in order to expand business, increasing costs further. All this heterogeneity in the materials testing accreditation landscape—and thus in determining which standard test methods to use—has led to calls for a more uniform federal-level recognition program for these and other materials testing labs, one that relies on a more unified, industry-backed set of test methods that will remain applicable across most local, state, and federal boundaries.[1][2][3]

That said, the standardized test methods and acceptance criteria relevant to construction and engineering materials tend to originate from organizations like the following[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]:

  • American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
  • American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • American Welding Society (AWS)
  • ASTM International (ASTM)
  • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans, CT)
  • ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES)
  • Truss Plate Institute (TPI)
  • Underwriters Laboratory (UL)

From these organizations, we find test methods and acceptance criteria such as[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]:

  • AAMA 501.1 Standard Test Method for Water Penetration of Windows, Curtain Walls and Doors Using Dynamic Pressure
  • AASHTO T166 Standard Method of Test for Bulk Specific Gravity (Gmb) of Compacted Asphalt Mixtures Using Saturated Surface-Dry Specimens
  • AISI S901 Test Standard for Determining the Rotational-Lateral Stiffness of Beam-to-Panel Assemblies
  • ANSI FM 4473 Impact Resistance Testing of Rigid Roofing Materials by Impacting with Freezer Ice Balls
  • ASME BPVC Section III Rules for Constructions of Nuclear Facility Components-Subsection NCA-General Requirements for Division 1 and Division 2
  • ASTM D4318 Standard Test Methods for Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, and Plasticity Index of Soils
  • AWS D1.1 Structural Welding Code – Steel
  • CT 670 Method of Tests for Mechanical and Welded Reinforcing Steel Splices
  • ICC-ES AC01 Acceptance Criteria for Expansion Anchors in Masonry Elements
  • TPI 1 National Design Standard for Metal Plate Connected Wood Truss Construction
  • UL 2218 Impact Resistance of Prepared Roof Covering Materials

    construction and engineering testing Source:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Geotechnical_boring_for_Red_Bridge_viaduct,_March_2018_.jpg

Regulations related to this type of testing

It is not unusual for regulations to require the use of engineering and manufacturing specifications, or test method standards, particularly where the regulation is in place to protect public safety. For example, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation is responsible for U.S. 23 CFR 625.4.[15] That regulation incorporates AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications and AASHTO LRFD Bridge Construction Specifications, which in turn incorporate ASTM F3125 Standard Specification for High Strength Structural Bolts, Steel and Alloy Steel, Heat Treated, 120 ksi (830 MPa) and 150 ksi (1040 MPa) Minimum Tensile Strength, Inch and Metric Dimensions.[16] The construction materials testing lab examining those fastener materials aren’t directly affected by 23 CFR 625.4, but the demand for safer bridges and the regulations that support that demand in turn drive the activity and accreditation scope of the lab.

Another example can be found with the construction of nuclear power plants. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix A, Criteria I.2 Design Bases for Protection Against Natural Phenomena mandates the general design criteria for nuclear power plants, in particular that they be able to withstand a variety of severe natural phenomena and their related normal and accident conditions, as well as maintain a vital level such that safety functions can continue to operate.[17] Digging further into 10 CFR Part 100.23 Geologic and seismic siting criteria, we find that data must be collected (i.e., geotechnical investigation) that includes the analysis of “vibratory ground motion, tectonic surface deformation, nontectonic deformation, earthquake recurrence rates, fault geometry and slip rates, site foundation material, and seismically induced floods and water waves.”[18] While the regulation doesn’t appear to mandate specific standardized tests, one would imagine that given the strict regulations surrounding the construction of a nuclear power plant, a properly vetted geotechnical firm accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, AASHTO, and other state requirements for the specific analyses required by 10 CFR Part 100.23 would be non-negotiable. In this case, the regulation affects an engineering laboratory in so much that it’s specialized in nuclear-related site testing, in which case it will be fully aware of the implications of regulations like 10 CFR Part 100.23.

Finally, while not strictly found in regulation (though it may be codified in some states), many state DoTs make reference to safe field sampling/testing locations and times in their recommendations and guides.[19] Any construction or engineering lab performing in situ field sampling and testing is in part affected by any regulations regarding sampling safety, and the lab should be aware of them. If no regulations exist, the lab and its personnel should be trained on proper field sampling and testing safety as described by any DoT guidelines, as well as company guidelines and requirements.



  1. National Research Council (15 March 1995). “Chapter 3: Conformity Assessment”. Standards, Conformity Assessment, and Trade: Into the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. pp. 65–102. doi: 10.17226/4921. ISBN: 978-0-309-05236-8. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/4921
  2. Arnhold, T.; Berner, W. “Conformity Assessment in the USA”. Ex-Magazine. R. Stahl AG. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://ex-magazine.r-stahl.com/article/detail/konformitaetsbewertung-in-den-vereinigten-staaten
  3. Wirths, F. (14 March 2023). “Reduction of technical barriers to trade within the framework of the Transatlantic Trade Council (TTC)” (PDF). ZVEI e.V. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.zvei.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Presse_und_Medien/Publikationen/user_upload/2023_04_21_ZVEI-Seiter_Abbau_technischer_Handelshemmnisse_im_Rahmen_von_TTC_en.pdf
  4. “IAS Certificate of Accreditation – Twining, Inc.” (PDF). International Accreditation Service. 30 March 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.iasonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/TL-196-CERT-New.pdf
  5. “IAS Certificate of Accreditation – HAAG Research & Testing, LLC” (PDF). International Accreditation Service. 11 September 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.iasonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/TL-656-Cert-new.pdf
  6. “IAS Certificate of Accreditation – Carlson Testing, Inc. – Bend OR Laboratory” (PDF). International Accreditation Service. 24 March 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.iasonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/TL-893-cert-New.pdf
  7. “IAS Certificate of Accreditation – Construction Consulting Laboratory West” (PDF). International Accreditation Service. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.iasonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/TL-226-CERT-NEW.pdf
  8. “Anbessaw Consulting, Inc. dba The Quality Firm”. AASHTO re:source. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 22 November 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. http://aashtoresource.org/accreditation-details?LaboratoryID=W8SPNJPHXdQ*V
  9. “Florida Department of Transportation”. AASHTO re:source. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 22 November 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. http://aashtoresource.org/accreditation-details?LaboratoryID=3toFJWhKE2Q*V
  10. “ANAB Scope of Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 – Center for Building Innovation, LLC” (PDF). ANSI National Accreditation Board. 30 January 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://search.anab.org/public/organization_files/Center-for-Building-Innovation-LLC-Cert-and-Scope-File-01-30-2023_1675103006.pdf
  11. “ANAB Scope of Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 – Municipal Testing Laboratory, Inc” (PDF). ANSI National Accreditation Board. 7 July 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://search.anab.org/public/organization_files/Municipal-Testing-Laboratory-Inc-Cert-and-Scope-File-07-07-2023_1688760896.pdf
  12. “Boyle Laboratories, LLC”. American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. 1 December 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://customer.a2la.org/index.cfm?event=directory.detail&labPID=E80E511B-81E7-48DB-B353-54D995A2BEA4
  13. “Caltrans Structural Materials Testing Laboratory”. American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. 24 May 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://customer.a2la.org/index.cfm?event=directory.detail&labPID=C07B4C5E-F705-44D4-B348-C6C49A86800D
  14. “Laboratory Testing for Geotechnical Design and Construction Help”. EZ-pdh.com. Ezekiel Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://ez-pdh.com/laboratory-testing-for-geotechnical-design-and-construction-help/
  15. “Title 23, Chapter I, Subchapter G, Part 625, § 625.4 Standards, policies, and standard specifications”. Code of Federal Regulations. National Archives. 5 June 2023. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-23/chapter-I/subchapter-G/part-625/section-625.4
  16. Hartmann, J.L. (1 December 2017). “Use of High Strength Fasteners in Highway Bridges”. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/steel/171201.cfm
  17. “10 CFR Appendix A to Part 50 – Appendix A to Part 50—General Design Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants”. Legal Information Institute – Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR). Cornell Law School. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/10/appendix-A_to_part_50
  18. “10 CFR § 100.23 – Geologic and seismic siting criteria”. Legal Information Institute – Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR). Cornell Law School. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/10/100.23
  19. Lu, Q.; Gunaratne, M.; Yu, Z. et al. (15 September 2017). “BDV25-977-27 Improving safety in pavement field testing”. Florida Department of Transportation. Retrieved 22 November 2023. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/32747

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