Being DIN EN ISO 17020 certified will propel your business to international recognition. Better prepare your team to meet conformity requirements with an ISO 17020 checklist and make sure you stay on top of things.
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Quality and security standards are as important as ever in a world that is becoming more globalised every single day. Having internationally recognised standards that qualify products, services and systems helps cross language barriers and builds trust in your company.
Even the inspection bodies that certify companies need inspecting – to ensure that their assessments are legitimate and justified. With major industries relying on reliable inspection findings, it’s imperative that all inspection bodies are dependable and trustworthy. The ISO 17020 standard ensures that organizations are competent, consistent, and impartial in their inspection activities.
The requirements to measure such competency and impartiality are laid out in the DIN EN ISO 17020. The conformity assessment is meant to provide assurance to private and public institutions that accredited inspection organizations meet the required standards and possess the necessary qualifications to carry out inspections.
However, meeting the international standard for inspection bodies is no easy feat. And so, institutions should ideally utilize an ISO 17020 checklist designed to comply with all relevant clauses required in the accreditation and not lose track of any of the specifications. An ISO 17020 checklist can be thought of as a preparatory tool that helps guide institutions from the initial assessment until the reassessment visits. Furthermore, it can be used to facilitate the gathering of data and serve as documentation to prove compliance.
Essentially, the conformity assessment divides inspection and examination bodies into three categories depending on the nature of their services (i.e. inspections, surveys, and risk-assessments) and independence. These classifications are Type A, B, and C.
The criteria included in the ISO 17020 standard are:
There is plenty of confusion when it comes to differentiating ISO/IEC 17020:2012 and ISO 17025. While both of these are published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and have similar management requirements, there is a nuance in the criteria that they require.
That is, the ISO standards for accreditation indicate ISO 17020 as the criteria for inspection bodies while ISO 17025 is for testing and calibration laboratories. Both of these standards are equally important.
Here are their differences in more detail:
The ISO 17025 accreditation is essentially the most important standard for testing and calibration laboratories across the board. In fact, results and certifications from an accredited laboratory are accepted internationally, making cooperation easy between organizations.
Its fundamental purpose is to confirm that a laboratory is competent enough to produce test results and calibration data are valid, precise, and free of any errors. This includes:
Laboratories are subject to regular assessments to make sure that their technical expertise and practices meet international standards. On top of this, they also need to regularly demonstrate their competency through periodic proficiency tests.
As previously mentioned, there is a nuance in the purpose served by both standards. If the ISO 17025 standard is for laboratories processing samples found in inspections, then the ISO 17020 standard is for the inspecting bodies who actually are taking the samples.
The main purpose of the ISO 17020 is to set the requirements for inspection bodies. Institutions that meet its compliance requirements and receive certification on this standard not only demonstrate their technical expertise and competence but also their professional judgment. Their findings are deemed impartial and valid.
Accredited companies can:
After the accredited laboratory provides the analysis report of the sample, the accredited inspection can:
Both ISO 17020 and 17025 are sovereign norms solely supervised by the Accreditation Bodies (SAS in Switzerland), and their standards are distinguished in their scope, respectively. Simply put, inspection bodies can only testify compliance with a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ result; whereas, laboratories also provide measurement results.
The ISO 17020 accreditation certification involves a series of inspections that include monitoring, auditing, and eventually – if all requirements are met – approval. It is crucial to be well prepared for the audit since it is a complex process that requires both time and energy, but offers great rewards as well.
An accreditation process involves seven steps that we have summarized here:
As an international certification, the ISO 17020 carries a lot of weight and can help propel your business forward. It may be a lot of work to prepare for an accreditation, however the benefits far outweigh the hardships you may face along the way. And if you stay organized and on top of your processes, getting ISO 17020 certified will be almost no trouble at all. Especially if you stick to a checklist and work your way through the undertaking.
Being certified by ISO 17020 standard will benefit your business and operations in many ways, such as:
Performing safety and quality inspections has never been easier than with a digital checklist. Carry it around with you in your pocket and conduct inspections wherever you are from your smartphone or tablet – online or offline. By creating a checklist for your ISO 17020 Audit you take preparation into your own hands and won’t let fate decide.