ISO/IEC 17025 is the global recognized standard that was developed specifically for testing and calibration laboratories that intended seeking accreditation. It is also the basis for accreditation from an accreditation body. The current release was published in 2005. It covers testing and calibration performed using standard methods, non-standard methods, and laboratory-developed methods.
There are two main clauses in ISO/IEC 17025 – Management Requirements and Technical Requirements. Management requirements are related to the operation and effectiveness of the quality management system within the laboratory, and this clause has similar requirements to ISO 9001. Technical requirements includes factors which determines the correctness and reliability of the tests and calibrations performed in laboratory namely competence of staff; environment control; testing methodology; equipment and measurement traceability; and reporting of test and calibration results.
Laboratories that can demonstrate compliance with ISO/IEC 17025 at assessment have demonstrated they operate using sound management practices and are technically competent to perform specific tests, calibrations and/or measurements as well as at the same time are able to generate technically valid results for which they hold accreditation. To maintain this recognition, laboratories are re-evaluated periodically by the accreditation body to ensure their continued compliance with requirements, and to check that their standard of operation is being maintained. The laboratory may also be required to participate in relevant proficiency testing programs between reassessments, as a further demonstration of technical competence.
Accredited laboratories usually issue test or calibration reports bearing the accreditation body’s symbol or endorsement, as an indication of their accreditation.
Clients are encouraged to check with the laboratory as to what specific tests or measurements they are accredited for, and for what ranges or uncertainties. This information is usually specified in the laboratory’s scope of accreditation, issued by the accreditation body. The description in the scope of accreditation also has advantages for the customers of laboratories in enabling them to find the appropriate laboratory or testing and calibration service. Laboratory accreditation bodies publish the scopes of accreditation for their accredited laboratories in either hardcopy directories or on the internet.
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