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The Facts of Lab Accreditation

IAPMO R&T Lab is an accredited ISO 17025 laboratory, but what does that mean? In a nutshell, accreditation provides a way to determine the competency of a lab to carry out the tests it performs. To become accredited, a lab must be audited by an outside body, which may spend several days reviewing documentation, examining test procedures and interviewing employees.

The benefits of accreditation include external recognition of the technical competence of a lab, which leads to a marketing advantage as clients choose who will test their products.

What does ISO 17025 require?
The ISO 17025 standard consists of two main sections: management clauses and technical clauses. In the early days of the lab, auditors spent more time auditing the technical requirements, to ensure the tests listed on our scope documents could, in fact, be performed.

Several years ago, however, a revision to the standard came out. The revision added several items to the management clauses. These included top management commitment, effectiveness of training, customer feedback, data analyses and continuous improvement of the entire management system.

The auditors look for evidence of a documented management system, which consists of a quality manual, quality procedures, forms and records. When they visit a site, they look for objective evidence that the procedures are being followed. Additionally, they spend a lot of time going through the lab to verify how tests are done. They may pull completed test reports and the standards used in those reports, and have lab personnel “walk” them through the steps taken to arrive at the final conclusions. Along the way, auditors may additionally check if equipment is capable, if personnel have been trained and that numerical results are within specifications.

The ISO 17025 standard requires that all measuring and test equipment (MTE) be calibrated using standards that are traceable to a national standard. Additionally, it requires the calculation of what is called “measurement uncertainty,” which must be carefully estimated using statistical methods, as well as “best guess” approximations. This is a complex process that must be done for each type of instrument used and all applicable test results.

Other sections of the standard include: controlling documents, corrective action, customer service, complaints, purchasing, internal audits, lab methods used and test reports.

Today – more and more documentation
To maintain our status as an accredited lab, IAPMO R&T Lab must show documented evidence of continuing to comply with the standard. The amount of documentation has grown over the years; as has the number of standards to which we are capable to test.

Because of the increased requirements of the ISO 17025 standard and an expansion of our testing capabilities, IAPMO R&T Lab has created a designated Quality Department with a QA manager.

Today, IAPMO R&T Lab is accredited/recognized by ACLASS (part of the American National Standards Institute or ANSI), IAPMO R&T, ASSE, DOE, CEC, city of Los Angeles, commonwealth of Massachusetts, state of Ohio, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and others.

Ken Wijaya

Last modified: December 30, 2022

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