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4 Things You Should Know Before Lab Accreditation

1. You can seek ISO 17025 lab accreditation for a specific scope of work. There is no such thing as “carte blanche” accreditation for ISO 17025. It is a type of accreditation that certifies your ability to carry out accurate, reliable measurements for a specific kind of testing process. For example, if your lab becomes accredited for testing blood alcohol concentration in blood samples, but later expands to add other kinds of forensic testing, the accreditation will not cover those other areas by default. Each specific area of work you do must be assessed and accredited separately. This can be a good thing for your business—it means you have the ability to seek accreditation for one core area of your business without investing in bringing the entire operation under accreditation. For many labs, only some specific types of work are high-value enough, or require such precision, as to make ISO 17025 worthwhile, and accrediting just those areas can save time and money.

2. You can seek accreditation for a customized type of testing. Many people mistakenly think there is a set list of scopes or specializations that you can get ISO 17025 accreditation for. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are some “standard” areas often listed by accreditation organizations, these are simply the most common areas assessed. Your lab can seek accreditation for a combination of different scopes, or for a completely custom type of testing. For most labs this won’t be necessary—but if your business specializes in an emerging area of testing, or has pioneered a new method for a traditional testing area, the accreditation can be tapered to fit what you offer. Accreditation simply reviews that you can do your form of testing reliably with precision, so any form of testing can apply.

3. You do not have to be 100% compliant before applying. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to be ready to “pass” accreditation before you even apply. The entire accreditation process is designed around an assessment, feedback, implementation and review protocol. The first stage of any ISO 17025 application is to have your documentation and operation reviewed and to receive corrective feedback so you can make the necessary changes to meet accreditation standards. The best accrediting organizations will also offer a practice assessment.

4. ISO 17025 is an ongoing process. After you are accredited, you may periodically be re-examined or asked to show proficiency. This ensures that accreditation is meaningful for years after the initial review process.

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