09 January, 2017

One of the benefits of accreditation is the mutual recognition of reports and certificates issued by bodies accredited by a signatory to one of the accreditation mutual recognition agreements.  This is very important to UKAS customers that operate in the global market, and therefore it is of the utmost importance that UKAS maintains its signatory status, both at European level (via the EA MLA) and internationally (via the ILAC MRA and IAF MLA).  Signatory status is gained, and maintained, through demonstration of compliance with ISO/IEC 17011 ‘Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies’ (and in addition for the EA the European Regulation covering accreditation: Regulation (EC) 765/2008): Such demonstration coming through peer evaluation.

On 28th November 2016 a 12-man EA peer evaluation team, including members from right across Europe, visited UKAS to conduct its routine peer evaluation.  This event lasted a full week, and included witnessing of eighteen UKAS assessments across the scope of its accreditation as well as time interviewing staff and reviewing records in the Staines office.  However, the scope of this peer evaluation was broader than previous years and set out with the objective of:

  • Reviewing the existing scope of the EA MLA with a view to maintaining signatory status. This scope covering Testing, Calibration & Medical Laboratories; Inspection Bodies; Management System Certification Bodies; Product / Process / Service Certification Bodies; Persons Certification Bodies; and Greenhouse Gas Verification Bodies.
  • Initial evaluation of UKAS’s Proficiency Testing Provider accreditation service (under ISO/IEC 17043) with the view of including UKAS within the first batch of accreditation bodies to sign the new PTP MLA when it is launched at the EA General Assembly in May 2017.
  • Inclusion of the EU’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS): This activity differs from the others in that the EMAS MLA is not managed by EA but a different body set-up by the European Commission in 2000 – The Forum of Accreditation & Licensing Bodies (FALB).  AS the majority of FALB members are also members of EA it was agreed that a combined evaluation could be undertaken this time.

As customers of UKAS will appreciate, a full week of intensive evaluation proved challenging but also provided a number of benefits.  The outcome of each of the above objectives was very positive, with recommendations that signatory status for the existing MLAs is maintained, and extended to include PTP accreditation.  A small number of findings were raised which UKAS management agree will help improve our service. UKAS will now need to respond to EA with details of how it intends to address these findings before the final report is submitted to the EA Multilateral Agreements Council (EA) for final decision in April 2017.

In the Executive Summary, the EA Evaluation Team Leader wrote:

 “UKAS management and permanent staff as well as external assessors met during witness assessments demonstrated a high level of commitment to their tasks. The EA team obtained evidence that UKAS has developed and implemented a fully documented management system that gives confidence in the management of the accreditation processes.”

In addition, the FALB report stated:

 “It was confirmed that UKAS operate a competent and reliable accreditation service, with experienced assessment staff, generally in line with the requirements of the EMAS Regulation.”

UKAS would like to thank each of our customers who accommodated a member of the EA peer evaluation team so that they could witness the performance of UKAS in the delivery of its accreditation services.

Confirmation of the final decisions made by the EA and FALB on the signatory status of UKAS will be published by UKAS once they have been issued.

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