Do we look for ISO 9001 certification or ISO/IEC 17020 accreditation in an Inspection Body?
In the case of an inspection body there are two independent options that can provide confidence to you and other interested parties:
accreditation of the inspection body’s competence to carry out the specific inspection tasks using ISO/IEC 17020,
certification of the inspection body’s quality management system using ISO 9001
These standards are related to each other through the management system requirements and are relevant in gaining confidence in the results produced by an inspection body.
Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020 “Conformity assessment -- Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection” involves an independent accreditation body assessing an inspection body’s competence to carry out specific inspection activities. The focus of ISO/IEC 17020 is on the independence, impartiality and integrity of the inspection body and the competence of its people, its inspection processes, and its equipment. In addition, the standard also includes a requirement for the inspection body to maintain a quality management system. The general criteria of ISO/IEC 17020 are supplemented by a variety of ILAC and IAF/ILAC documents and specific scheme requirements.
Certification to ISO 9001 (“Quality management systems – Requirements”) is carried out by an independent management system auditing organization with the purpose of certifying the inspection body’s quality management system.
Accredited ISO 9001 certification and accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020 both provide confidence in the services of an inspection body. ISO/IEC 17020 is however more specific in its requirements for technical competence and impartiality while still addressing the quality management system requirements needed to ensure inspection bodies provide consistent and reliable inspection services that will meet customer needs.