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Keeping Field-Records From Becoming a Wreck
You've got a permit and the government expects you to comply with it.
You're supposed to show them you do things "the right
way." So when government comes for a "visit", and asks
if your samples were pulled correctly, how do you show 'em?
Here's how - give 'em the "w's."
The who, the what, the where, the how and the when of
Why worry about the w's? It all comes back to
staying in compliance and out of trouble. So write 'em
down. Do it systematically and there'll hardly be a
question - government will know you do it right.
The following is a series of checklists to help you
show 'em. Don't tell anyone, but they're based on
insider information (Florida Administrative Code 62-160
Quality Assurance and the DEP Standard Operating
Procedures). If you have any questions, call 407-897-4165.
These checklists provide:
Make all entries with waterproof ink
Correct record-keeping errors with one line marked
through the error. The individual making the
correction shall sign or initial and date the
Keep records of sample collection in a bound
notebook or document-controlled field sheets.
Prepare a sampling kit or obtain one from a contract
Have appropriate amount of containers for samples
Reusable containers must be linked to date and time
Manufacturer and lot numbers must be recorded for a
Field conditions such as temperature, weather, etc.
Parameters to be analyzed and method numbers
Purging and sampling equipment used
Cleaning or rinsing of equipment if it is performed
in the field
Blanks or duplicates collected
Sample collection technique (grab, composite, tap,
If composite samples are collected, the number of
sub-samples and the quantity of each
Preservatives added and quantity. Remember:
preservatives must be traceable to preparation date,
vendor and lot number.
pH verification of preserved samples
When you do field measurements, the accuracy of the
meters is vital. It can be shown via records of field
Actual and expected results of the calibration
and/or check in appropriate units (mg/L vs. ug/L)
Result of the sample measurement in appropriate
units (mg/L vs. ug/L)
Whether the result was acceptable
Lot numbers and expiration dates of standards and
Manufacturer and/or model number of the field meter.
If more than one meter is used, the records should be
clearly linked to a specific meter.
Sample transmittal forms tell the lab what to test
for and document who handled the sample. This record
must contain the following information at a minimum:
Who & when
Name, time and date of the person who prepared the
sampling kit unless samples are collected and analyzed
by the on-site laboratory
The name of the person collecting the samples
The date and time of each sample collected
Signature, date and time that the samples were
Any preservatives used for the samples
Identification of common carrier if applicable
A comments section which contains remarks on the
condition of the samples, the condition of the
monitoring wells, the results of checking the
preservatives, and if additional preservatives were
added to the samples.
Who Keeps the Records?
If facility personnel collected the samples, then the
facility must keep the field data sheets and copies of
the samples transmittal forms. If you with to give
copies of the field data sheets to the lab, you may do
so. It is easy to remember who must keep the records by
remembering this rule: "If you did the task, then
you must keep the records". You need to keep the
records for at least 5 years. As far as the government
is concerned, "If you don't have
documentation that you did it, then you didn't do
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