What is accreditation?

Reliability through conformity assessments

Accreditation is the independent evaluation of certification bodies against recognized standards to ensure their impartiality and competence to carry out specific activities, such as tests, calibrations, inspections and certifications.

Accreditation is the formal recognition that an organization is competent to perform specific processes, activities, or tasks in a reliable credible and accurate manner. Every aspect of daily life involves, at some level, adherence by someone to voluntary or mandatory standards. It is easy, perhaps, to think what some of these may be—those related to food safety and labelling, for instance, or health and safety at work and in the home, weights and measures or trading standards. The implementation of many standards may seem less relevant to our immediate existence but will nonetheless impact on our everyday life, such as those related to the structural integrity of building materials, reliability of health care, management systems, financial advice and reporting, or the manufacture of clothing.

Through the application of national and international standards, government, procurers and consumers can therefore have confidence in the calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications provided.

Accreditation bodies are established in many countries with the primary purpose of ensuring that certification bodies are subject to oversight by an authoritative body.

Requirements regarding the quality of goods and services are continuously increasing as a result of the liberalization of global trade and increasing demands by consumers, companies and legislators. Whether for environmental protection, in the food or electrical industry, health care or renewable energy – for these and many other industries, objective testing, calibrations, inspections or certifications therefore play a very important role.

These assessments ensure that tested products, methods, services or systems are reliable with regard to their quality and safety, that they correspond to a technical minimum standard and conform to the standards, guidelines and laws that correspond with the various requirements. These objective attestations are therefore also described as conformity assessments.

Our clients

Our clients are conformity-assessment bodies:

  • laboratories
  • inspection bodies
  • certification bodies
  • verification bodies

Conformity-assessment bodies assess whether products and services from suppliers meet the specified requirements. They do this for every imaginable field of work: health, environment, constructions, energy, food, transport and finance, to name but a few. In the event of a positive assessment the supplier is issued with a statement of conformity in the form of a certificate or report.

It is important that conformity-assessment bodies are expert, impartial and independent because only then statements they issue are useful and reliable.

Trust through accreditation

However, the trust placed in certificates, inspections, tests or calibrations stands and falls with the competence of the person that renders the assessment service. Many of these so-called conformity assessment bodies therefore confirm the quality of their own work with an accreditation.

As part of the accreditation procedure, they can confirm to an independent accreditation body that they carry out their activities with technical competence, in compliance with statutory and standards-based requirements and at an internationally comparative standard. The accreditation body assesses and monitors the management system and the competence of the conformity assessment body’s assigned personnel.

Therefore accreditations play a key role in warranting the comparability of conformity assessment results and creating trust in the quality and safety of products and services.

Definition of the term accreditation pursuant to ISO/IEC 17011

“Accreditation refers to third-party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks”

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