ISO 17025, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories and its sister standards, ISO 17065 (for Certification) and ISO 17020 (for Inspections), are published by the International Organization for Standardisation to specify the requirements for a testing, certification and inspection respectively. The main pillars of the system are independence, handling of documents, written procedures, traceability of measurements to international standard values and the expression of the uncertainty of measurement. Other key areas are training of personnel, continuous improvement, external and internal audits, and that calibrations must be by ISO 17025 accredited calibration labs.
The accreditation is awarded by an organisation such as UKAS in the UK, EIAC in Dubai, or IAS in the USA, etc. Most countries have at least one Accreditation Body, as they are called, which may be a government organisation but not necessarily. What qualifies them to award accreditations is membership in the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), or a regional subgroup. Member bodies agree on the competence of each other through a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), sometimes called a multi-lateral agreement (MLA) in other similar organizations. Being a ˜signatory to the MRA’ is important for international recognition – for example, accreditation in one country by an accreditation body which is a member of ILAC but not a signatory of the MRA, may not be acceptable in another country, particularly where the domestic accreditation body is a signatory.
UKAS is generally recognized as a leader among accreditation bodies and we have therefore chosen to be accredited by them for the majority of our activities in order to have the widest possible acceptance among our clients in the larger region. As we are in a region where US tests are equally common with UK ones, we also carry accreditations for some activities with IAS, which is part of the International Code Council (ICC), publishers of the International Building Code (IBC) and other codes. Their respective assessors visit us annually to audit the work under our scope of accreditation, and to ensure we are not only maintaining standards but improving as well. The tests and activities which are included in our current scopes of accreditation are listed on the ABs’ websites which are on the Contacts page. For example, you can go to www.ukas.com and search for 4439 under Testing Labs to see our current scope of UKAS accreditation at any time. You will see that we are accredited for a large number of curtain wall tests and fire tests to a range of standards from the UK, the US and Europe. The same applies for Certification, Inspections, and Special Inspections with IAS, and GAC.