POST TIME: 9 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Accreditation: Delivering a safer world
World Accreditation Day 2018 provides an excellent opportunity to explore how accreditation can provide a safer world
Md. Abu Abdullah

Accreditation: Delivering a safer world

The expectation of safe workplaces, safe products, safe transport, safe food, in fact all aspects of our lives, are universally shared. Statistics, however, shows that   expectation is not being matched with reality. Closing this gap is a vital consideration for government, regulators and businesses, aiming at keeping people safer in their work, their domestic life, their journey and all other parts of their lives.

Standards, conformity assessment and accreditation are well established and accepted tools that are used to help deliver a safer world. Examples of the use of these tools include: life guards having accredited certification in Dubai; asbestos testing at accredited laboratories in the UK; certification for adventure tourism activities in New Zealand; accredited certification in the Czech Republic for electronic tool workers; accredited inspection for public lifts in the Netherlands.

One of the most significant endorsements of the benefits of conformity assessment is with an Italian insurer. By analyzing the rates of workplace accidents between organizations who have certification from the OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety management system standard and those without it, the insurer offers significantly lower insurance premiums to those certified to the standard as they see those with the certification have much lower risk.

The use of management systems to help reduce health and safety risks will be considerably expanded in March 2018 with the publication of the first ISO Health & Safety management system standard, ISO 45001, designed to improve organizations’ health & safety performance by recognizing the risks and developing objectives, policies, processes and controls to minimize these risks.

Another clear example of how accreditation delivers a safer world is through the Dutch criminal justice system, where DNA evidence will only be admissible if the DNA testing has been conducted by a laboratory accredited to ISO/IEC 17025. Having the DNA testing in a laboratory that is accredited by an International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) signatory ensures that the judicial system is upheld, and that citizens are consistently protected.

These examples provide a very brief introduction to the vast range of ways to accreditation, conformity assessment and standards that can provide a safer world. Completed projects, raw materials, products, processes, services, management systems and persons can be evaluated against a standard, code of practice, or regulatory requirement by testing and calibration laboratories, inspection bodies, certification bodies and validation and verification bodies (collectively known as Conformity Assessment Bodies). Conformity assessment bodies are used to check that products and services are safe for use.

Accreditation is the independent evaluation of these conformity assessment bodies against recognized standards to carry out specific activities to ensure their integrity, impartiality and competence. Through the application of national and international standards, government, businesses and wider society can have confidence in the calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications provided, delivering both increased confidence and safer practices.

World Accreditation Day 2018 provides an excellent opportunity to explore how accreditation can provide a safer world and for businesses, government and regulators to find standards, conformity assessment and accreditation tools to help them in this goal.

9 June 2018 marks World Accreditation Day as a global initiative, jointly established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), to raise awareness of importance of accreditation. This day is new in celebration list since 2008.This year’s theme focuses on how accreditation can provide a safer world.

As in previous years, the day will be celebrated across the world with  hosting major national events, seminars, press and media coverage  to provide the opportunity to explore how accreditation can help deliver a safer world and to support businesses, government and regulators to find standards, conformity assessment and accreditation tools to support them in this goal.

Accreditation can be used to support health and safety policy in different ways. For example, markets can ‘self-regulate’ through businesses voluntarily agreeing to meet set standards. This can be applied where there is a need to reassure markets on the conduct of business while minimizing risks where there is no desire from Government for regulatory intervention. Alternatively, businesses that demonstrate compliance with standards through accreditation may earn ‘recognition’ from regulators, who trust them to comply with their legal obligations. This enables regulators to reduce oversight and inspection during visits saving tax payers’ money. This ‘earned recognition’ can achieve the same or better outcomes as regulation but on a voluntary basis.

In this way the cost of regulation is reduced for both the government and regulated business. International accreditation arrangements provide regulators with a robust and credible framework to accept accredited test results, inspection reports and certifications from overseas with an equivalent level of confidence as if they were carried out in the local economy.

Accreditation is consistent across the globe and provides a way to assess and control risk in business operations along with products and services in market. Accreditation provides objective proof that products are safe and meet specifications. Thus accreditation makes your world a safer place, every minute, every hour and every day.

The writer is a former Director General of Bangladesh

Accreditation Board.

E-mail:- mdabuabdullah@gmail.com