The European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) thoroughly evaluated Swiss Accreditation Service (SAS) from 23 to 27 March 2015. The EA team, consisting of representatives of eight European accreditation bodies, assessed SAS' activities at its Bern location and accompanied SAS assessment teams during 11 assessments of conformity assessment bodies (CAB) all over Switzerland. The SAS achieved an overall good mark for its six international evaluations.
The SAS assesses and accredits CAB on the basis of international standards and technical specifications. The accreditation aims to increase trust in the competence and services of the accredited CAB around the world.
As a national accreditation body and members of the EA, the SAS undergoes regular peer evaluations, in other words an evaluation amongst equals. The last evaluation of this kind before this most recent one took place in 2010. This assessment is based on substantiated and transparent assessment criteria and methods and is binding for the so-called "signatory status" as part of multilateral agreements (multilateral agreements, MLA, and multilateral recognition arrangements, MRA) by the EA, International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
It is checked if the national accreditation body meets the requirements of the international standard EN ISO/IEC 17011 "General requirements for accreditation services which accredit conformity assessment bodies" and the binding documents by the EA, ILAC and IAF and applies these in its own accreditation system. This specifically affects requirements for aspects such as management systems, personnel resources and their professional competences, the order-specific use of external experts, the performance of evaluations and related reporting, the coverage of all elements of a standard and technical areas of applicability, and the decision-making process regarding the accreditation process of the national accreditation body.
The SAS once again successfully completed this evaluation process in practice. In its report, the EA evaluation team will be able to submit to EA's Multilateral Agreement Committee (MAC) a positive application for the renewed signing of the multilateral agreements in the areas of calibrations, tests, medical examinations, the certification of products, persons and management systems and inspections. Such application will be subject to evidence being provided of the full rectification of all deviations found and the timely implementation of corrective measures in daily practice.
This will ensure that the MLA and MRA mentioned above can be re-signed, thus acknowledging national accreditation systems and resulting conformity assessment services. The reports and certificates from accredited CAB are recognised globally, which promotes trust in the quality of the respective products and services. The MLA and MRA of the EA, ILAC and IAF therefore make a major contribution to reducing technical barriers to trade. However, this requires standardised and traceable methods within the corresponding national accreditation systems and a regular certification by independent and impartial third parties as part of peer evaluations.