Accreditation is a process whereby an independent assessment by a recognised third party affirms that a laboratory has technical competence to perform specified tests or calibrations in accordance with internationally accepted procedures.
Accreditation is an effective marketing tool for testing and calibration laboratories as it is regarded as a reliable indicator of technical competence. Accredited laboratories issue test or calibration reports bearing the accreditation body’s symbol as an indication of their accreditation.
Benchmark for performance
Many laboratories operate in isolation with their peers and are unable to comparatively assess their performance standards. Laboratory accreditation allows laboratories to determine their performance. During accreditation activities the accreditation body assesses all aspects of a laboratory’s facility and operations to ensure the production of accurate test data. Areas for improvement are identified and the laboratory is required to make the necessary corrective action to improve their performance quality.
Accreditation bodies conduct assessments against the requirements of International Standards. This allows a uniform approach to determining a laboratory’s competence which in turn allows countries to mutually accept each other’s accredited test or calibration data through international agreements referred to as Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs). This system of MRAs between accreditation bodies has enabled laboratories to have the benefit of international recognition of their test or calibration data.
TTLABS accredits laboratories to the International standards:
ISO/IEC 17025: General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories
ISO 15189: Medical Laboratories- Requirements for competence and quality
The accreditation process involves a thorough assessment of all the elements of a laboratory facilities and operations that contribute to the production of accurate test data. This evaluation is carried out by special Technical Assessors appointed by TTLABS to conduct the onsite assessment which may take a few days to complete depending on the size and scope of the operations being assessed.
At the end of the onsite assessment a report is generated by the assessors and the laboratory is allowed a time frame within which to correct any non-conformities detected during the assessment activity. Once there is successful closure of all non-conformities detected the assessment documents are forwarded by TTLABS to a Laboratory Accreditation Committee comprising three or more Technical Experts separate from the assessment team. The Laboratory Accreditation Committee will evaluate the assessment records provided and will cast a vote by ballot method on the granting of accreditation to the applicant laboratory. TTLABS will issue an accreditation certificate to the laboratory depending on the outcome of the voting process.
TTLABS’s accreditation cycle lasts for a period of three (3) years. A surveillance visit is conducted in the second and third years after the initial assessment on the anniversary date of the initial assessment. In the fourth year, the laboratory is re-assessed and issued a new accreditation certificate once there is satisfaction that the quality management system’s compliance with the standard is being maintained.
What do I need to become accredited?
Laboratories Interested in applying for accreditation would be required to be familiar with the relevant standard to which accreditation is being sought and must have a fully functional Quality Management System supported by policies, procedures and records. TTLABS also requires that the applicant laboratory be successfully participating in proficiency testing programmes approved by TTLABS and relevant to their desired scope of accreditation.