Laboratory accreditation is a means of determining the technical competence of laboratories to perform specific types of testing, measurement, and calibration. It also provides formal recognition to competent laboratories, thus providing a ready means for customers to identify and select reliable testing, measurement, and calibration services able to meet their needs.
Under ISO/IEC 17025, a laboratory’s competence is assured via on-site assessment process and participation in applicable proficiency testing programs. The on-site assessment process is a thorough examination of the laboratory’s Management and Quality System.
The on-site assessment process assures that the laboratory is capable of producing accurate, traceable, and reproducible data. They repeat the process at regular intervals to ensure that the laboratory maintains its capabilities. It is a very intensive process by a team of technical experts from an Accreditation Body.
If you are seeking accreditation for your facility first contact, the accreditation body to see whether they can accredit your range of services. Most can provide comprehensive accreditation for:
Accreditation Bodies themselves also receive evaluation using the internationally recognized standards. And are subject to similarly rigorous assessment by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). There are recognized accreditation bodies in over 130 countries. While many countries have a single accreditation body, Canada there are two, Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA).
Laboratory accreditation is a significantly effective marketing tool. In fact, being an accredited lab is a high national and international indicator of technical competence. It uses criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence. Thus, assuring that the data supplied is accurate and reliable.
Many accreditation bodies publish a directory of accredited laboratories, this includes the laboratories’ contact details plus information on their testing capabilities. This promotes your lab and can help gain clients and trust.
Lastly, through a system of international agreements, accredited laboratories receive a form of international recognition. This allows their data to be more readily acceptable in overseas markets. This recognition especially helps to reduce costs for manufacturers and exporters that have their products or materials tested in accredited labs, by reducing or eliminating the need for retesting in another country.
It is important to implement these quality requirements in all aspects of laboratory work. The lab staff should have a strong awareness of all the various accreditation requirements. The quality assurance (QA) personnel devise and implement the systems that make it easier for the analysts and others to comply with accreditation requirements. While they ensure that changes to reference methods incorporate into lab methods and any improvements receive appropriate testing and incorporation. Following accreditation and quality standards is vital to the success of a lab. Accreditation provides the underlying assurance that organizations are adhering to internationally recognized standards.