What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a procedure by which an authoritative body provides formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks.
Accreditation determines the technical competence and integrity of organisations offering conformity assessment services such as testing, certification, inspection and calibration based on international standards. Accreditation can thus be used to verify compliance to a standard. Accreditation is an impartial and objective process carried-out by third-parties; it offers the least duplicative, the most transparent and the most widely accepted route for the provision of credible and trustworthy conformity assessment results.
Accreditation bodies are established in most countries to ensure that conformity assessment bodies are subject to oversight by a competent body. Internationally recognised accreditation bodies, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, sign international arrangements that enhance the acceptance of products and services across borders, thereby creating a global infrastructure to support trade regulatory approval processes, and confidence in the marketplace. These arrangements are managed by International Accreditation Forum (IAF), in the fields covering accreditation of certification bodies and verification/validation bodies, and ILAC, in the areas of laboratory and inspection boy accreditation. This system helps to make work carried out by accreditation bodies consistent across the globe, and maintains international standards form one accreditation body to others. As a result, products and services tested, inspected or certified once under the IAF and ILAC umbrella can be accepted everywhere with equal confidence.
International Accreditation Forum (IAF) – The IAF is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation Bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes of conformity assessment. IAF ensures that its accreditation body members only accredit bodies that are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest. They also establish mutual recognition arrangements, known as Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLA), between its accreditation body members which reduces risk to business and its customers by ensuring that an accredited certificate may be relied upon anywhere in the world.
Link to IAF: http://www.iaf.nu/
International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) – ILAC is the international organisation for accreditation bodies operating in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 and involved in the accreditation of conformity assessment bodies including calibration laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), testing laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), medical testing laboratories (using ISO 15189) and inspection bodies (using ISO/IEC 17020). The primary purpose of ILAC is to establish an international arrangement between member accreditation bodies based on peer evaluation and mutual acceptance. ILAC is the principal international co-operation for:
- Developing and harmonising laboratory and inspection body accreditation practices.
- Recognising accredited calibration laboratories, testing laboratories, medical testing laboratories and inspection bodies internationallyÂ under the ILAC Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA).
- Promoting laboratory and inspection body accreditation to industry, governments, regulators and consumers.
- Assisting and supporting developing accreditation systems.
Link to ILAC: http://ilac.org/
Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) The InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation is an association of accreditation bodies in the Americas and other organizations interested in conformity assessment.
IAAC’s main objectives are:
- To promote regional and international acceptance of accreditations granted by its members.
- To promote regional and international acceptance of conformity certificates, inspection reports, and testing and calibration results issued by conformity assessment bodies accredited by its members.
- To develop an efficient and reliable regional accreditation and conformity assessment infrastructure.
- To establish a region-wide system of multilateral recognition arrangements among accreditation bodies.
- To facilitate trade among the economies of the Americas through an efficient system for conformity assessment.
- To promote the equivalence of regional accreditation programs with international accreditation guidelines
Link to ILAC: http://www.iaac.org.mx/English/Index.php