A2LA is one of the largest laboratory accreditation bodies in the world; but what is laboratory accreditation and why does it matter?
Laboratory accreditation is a formal recognition earned by organizations proving they are qualified, competent, and comply with international standards. Laboratories of all kinds can become accredited, including calibration laboratories, cannabis testing laboratories, environmental testing laboratories, and much more. In the accreditation world, each of these organizations is referred to as a conformity assessment body, or a CAB.
As an accreditation body (AB), A2LA works closely with CABs all over the world to assess their laboratory procedures to determine whether they meet the criteria of international standards. Most often, labs are assessed to one or more standards set forth by the International Organization for Standardization, also referred to as ISO.
The International Organization of Standardization is “an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 167 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.”
Each standard ISO develops is identified by a number and the year it was published or last updated. For example, ISO/IEC 17025:2017 is a standard that details the requirements for testing and calibration laboratories, and the most recent version was published in 2017. Experts from around the world develop these standards for organizations to follow and become accredited to. Standards cover a wide range of laboratory activities, from the qualifications of personnel and the calibration of equipment to the documentation of procedures and test methods.
To become accredited to a standard, accreditation bodies, such as A2LA, assess laboratories to ensure all the requirements of the standard are met. If non-conformities are found, the lab has an opportunity to correct them. Once all non-conformities have been corrected, the CAB can finally attain laboratory accreditation for a specific standard.
Why is Laboratory Accreditation Important?
Laboratory accreditation serves many purposes. First and foremost, it shows that an organization and its personnel are qualified and competent. It also inspires confidence in test results and assures customers of a product or service’s quality, strengthening an organization’s credibility. For example, accredited cannabis testing labs test product for potentially harmful substances like pesticides, heavy metals, and mycotoxins. Because the lab is accredited, the end user will be confident that the product is safe and high quality.
Another reason accreditation is so important is that it allows organizations from all over the world to more easily sell their products and services in other countries. International standards equate to international acceptance of test data. Organizations will not spend time and money on inspections and approvals in each country in which they sell. With global standards, products and services are justly accepted all over the world, regardless of industry or country of origin.
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.