In our latest blog, we explained what laboratory accreditation is and why it’s so important. This formal recognition is earned by organizations to prove they are qualified, competent, and comply with international standards. It also inspires confidence in test results and assures customers of a product or service’s quality, strengthening an organization’s credibility. If you want to learn more about laboratory accreditation, visit our last blog here.
Next, we’re going to look at the accreditation bodies (ABs) that assess and accredit CABs.
It’s up to the accreditation body to properly assess laboratories of all kinds. A2LA accredits laboratories as well as other organizations, including inspection bodies and product certification bodies. As one of the largest accreditation bodies in the world, A2LA currently has over 4,000 actively accredited certificates in all 50 U.S. states and more than 50 countries all around the world.
For an AB to accredit organizations, they must first achieve signatory status. This means that an AB has a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with one or more of the international recognition arrangements. For example, A2LA is a signatory to the following: International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC). Each of these organizations recognize the same globally-accepted criteria, and they determine which organizations can provide accreditation.
Global, Federal, State, and Local Recognitions
Every AB must meet and be recognized to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011, the standard for any organization acting as an accreditation body. According to ISO, the standard “specifies requirements for the competence, consistent operation and impartiality of accreditation bodies assessing and accrediting conformity assessment bodies.” ABs are recognized to ISO/IEC 17011 through the international recognition arrangements. For example, A2LA is evaluated against ISO/IEC 17011 by APAC members from other accreditation bodies, and vice versa. This peer review system ensures consistency and impartiality among accreditation bodies. While there are differences between ABs, including certain processes and approaches to customer care, they assess laboratories to the same standards set forth by international standards organizations.
Accreditation bodies can also achieve recognition from local, state, and federal organizations, as well as other industry partners. For example, A2LA is recognized by a number of other government agencies and private organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Military, Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and many others. For the full list of domestic recognitions, click here.
Whether an AB is assessing a cannabis testing laboratory in the United States, a biological testing facility in Canada, or a chemical testing laboratory in Saudi Arabia, they are assessed to the same globally-accepted standards.
Want to learn more about laboratory accreditation and how it can improve your organization? Visit the FAQ page, or reach out to us at info@A2LA.org.