This is a sidebar from the article, Maximizing the Benefits of Fluid Analysis, which appeared in the July 2012 issue of TLT.
ISO/IEC 17025: General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories
ISO/IEC 17025 is the main standard for testing and calibration laboratories. It was initially issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1999. The two main sections in ISO/IEC 17025 are Management Requirements and Technical Requirements. Management Requirements address the lab’s operation and the effectiveness of the quality management system. Technical Requirements address the correctness and reliability of the tests and also the calibrations performed in the lab.
For a laboratory to become accredited, it must have a documented quality management system. More important, the lab must undergo a full-scale audit of each parameter it wants to have accredited. If a lab accredits only one test, it has the right to display an ISO 17025 certification. But the better labs are accredited to a rigorous program of 30-60 different tests per location.
To retain accreditation, labs must also participate in independent round robins. If they fail two in a row, they automatically lose their accreditation for that parameter and must start over. Audits are recurring, and round robins for all accredited parameters are continually reported to the accreditation body (i.e., ASTM) in order to ensure continued compliance.