The importance of ISO 17025 for laboratories
Testing is used in many industries but offering testing as a professional service requires that any type of measurement, sampling or calibration laboratory pass through the process of accreditation. When it comes to the accreditation, the company is obligated to show conformity to the ISO 17025 standard.
The ISO 17025 accreditation is the most important standard for testing and/or calibration laboratories. It confirms that a particular laboratory is able to produce precise and accurate test results and calibration data, including:
- Traceability of measurements and calibrations to national standards
- Technical competence of staff
- Maintenance of test equipment
- Quality assurance of test and calibration data
- Validity and appropriateness of test methods
- Appropriate handling and transportation of test items
- Quality of testing environment and sampling
To ensure continued compliance, accredited laboratories are regularly re-assessed to check that they are maintaining their standard of technical expertise. These laboratories are also required to participate in regular proficiency testing programs as an ongoing demonstration of their competence.
Key benefits of ISO 17025 accreditation can be summarized as below:
- Benchmark for performance: laboratory accreditation benefits laboratories by allowing them to determine whether they are performing their work correctly and to appropriate standards and provides them with a benchmark for maintaining that competence. Many such laboratories operate in isolation to their peers, and rarely, if ever, receive any independent technical evaluation as a measure of their performance. A regular assessment by an accreditation body checks all aspects of a facility’s operations related to consistently producing accurate and dependable data. Areas for improvement are identified and discussed, and a detailed report provided at the end of each visit. Where necessary, follow-up action is monitored by the accreditation body, so the facility is confident that it has taken the appropriate corrective action.
- Competence demonstration: competency assessment ensures that only trained, skilled and authorized staff can perform laboratory tasks.
- Professional working approach: implementing ISO 17025 will enable a hierarchical order and clear job responsibilities for all the employees. Procedures and policies that the laboratory establishes will determine which actions are required from the personnel. They will follow established procedures, policies and work rules, and will fulfil the company’s expectations. As a result, internal company management will become more achievable and it will improve the chances for the systematic reduction of errors through risk management.
- Advantages for Customers: it builds confidence in the customer and also saves them from expensive retesting. The customer feels that the service is trustworthy because it is verified by a third party.
- Time and money savings: it helps you save time and money due to reduction or elimination of the need for re-testing of products.