labsheader
Stamp of Approval

Government Regulators Rely on Accredited Testing, ILAC MRA

BY CHERYL O. MORTON
This August, AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs marks its fifth year as an internationally recognized accreditation body under the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). This recognition was granted following a peer evaluation in which AIHA-LAP, LLC was deemed compliant with the ISO conformity assessment standard for accreditation bodies (ISO/IEC 17011:2004).
 
By signing the MRA, AIHA-LAP entered into a global partnership attesting to its equivalence to other bodies around the world in how AIHA-LAP accredits laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025:2005, the conformity assessment standard that establishes requirements for assessing the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. Some 89 accreditation bodies representing 74 economies have signed the ILAC MRA. These bodies have committed to the concept that a product should be tested once and accepted globally. THIRD-PARTY TESTING To help meet this goal in the United States, AIHA-LAP and other ILAC MRA signatories in the U.S. have been urging government regulators to accept test results from all laboratories accredited under the ILAC umbrella—even those located in other countries. The message conveyed to government regulators clarifies the benefits of the ILAC MRA, including the following:
  • The MRA provides a credible and technically robust framework on which to further develop and enhance government-to-government bilateral and multilateral international trade agreements.
  • The MRA acts as an internationally recognized “stamp of approval” to demonstrate compliance to certain standards and requirements. Risk is therefore minimized, as decisions are based on reliable test results.
  • Duplication of testing is minimized because test and calibration data included in submissions for product approvals can be evaluated without re-testing. Many government agencies have recognized the importance of credible accreditation programs that are developed against internationally recognized standards.
  • Accreditation and the ILAC MRA help regulators meet certain requirements by providing a globally recognized system to accept accredited test reports.
The timing for greater U.S. government reliance on accredited testing could not be better. Today, few U.S. regulatory agencies accredit testing laboratories or operate their own. In the last 15 years, more and more federal regulatory agencies have relied on accredited test results, and more are starting to rely on third-party testing from laboratories accredited by accreditation bodies under the ILAC MRA. The following are a few recent examples:
 
Department of Energy (DoE). DoE recognizes accredited organizations for ISO 14065 verification bodies and ISO/IEC 17024 personnel certification. DoE also recognizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NIST NVLAP) for accreditation of laboratories that test energy-efficient lighting.
 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA’s National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program recognizes the laboratories accredited by U.S. accreditation bodies, including AIHA-LAP, LLC’s environmental lead program. EPA’s Energy Star Program has requirements in place for data provided by laboratories accredited by ILAC MRA signatories.
labsheader_cropped