Getting goods across borders usually involves demonstrating conformity to local or international standards or regulations, which is why conformity assessment activities such as testing and certification are inextricably linked. They prove that the goods are what they claim to be. Accreditation adds further value by offering an independent assessment of the organizations that do the testing, to demonstrate they are impartial, competent and consistent.

Failures or errors in this regard can result in goods being refused or stuck at borders, incurring significant financial and reputational costs.

Adding value to supply chains in this way is the theme of this year’s World Accreditation Day, held on the 9th June every year to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation.

ISO not only has thousands of internationally agreed standards that outline test method requirements but also standards for the operation of bodies delivering conformity assessment activities and accreditation.

ISO 28000, Specification for security management systems for the supply chain, for example, addresses potential security issues at every step of the supply process. Accreditation bodies often assess the competence of bodies involved in certifying businesses to this standard, ensuring integrity and security from every angle.

ISO/IEC 17025, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, is another example and is the international reference for testing and calibration laboratories wishing to demonstrate they deliver trusted results.

It is one of the many standards in a range developed by ISO’s committee on conformity assessment (CASCO) called the ‘CASCO Toolbox’.

The range includes ISO/IEC 17020, Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection; the ISO/IEC 17021 series Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems; and ISO/IEC 17065 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services.

International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), the organizations behind World Accreditation Day, contribute to the work of ISO/CASCO in the development of those standards.

By Clare Naden