WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF ACCREDITATION?
The Scope of Accreditation is the official and detailed document containing a list of activities and calibrations a lab is accredited to perform. The purpose of this document is to define specific areas and to provide the user of an accredited laboratory with a description of the specific calibrations covered by the accreditation. It is considered to represent the core of the accreditation process. This document will usually be several pages long and can be found with the laboratory’s Certificate of Accreditation. Both the Certificate of Accreditation and the Scope of Accreditation will have an expiration date of two years. Throughout the two year period, the laboratory is required to demonstrate compliance to the management and technical quality systems, along with the full technical competence observed during the assessment period.
HOW IS THE SCOPE DETERMINED?
The content of the scope of accreditation is verified during the assessment process by the accrediting body to ensure the personnel and laboratory are competent and complaint with the ISO 17025 standard. As previously mentioned, the accreditation assessment includes demonstration of testing skills. These skills are performed during assessment under observation and then are added to the scope of accreditation if deemed compliant with ISO 17025 standard. The scope will usually include parameter/equipment, measurement range, Calibration and Measurement Capability Uncertainty (CMC) and comments on the techniques used to perform the calibrations.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE SERVICE YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IS NOT INCLUDED ON THE SCOPE?
It is very important to note that the content on the scope of accreditation does not include all the laboratory’s capabilities, only the ones they have been accredited for. For example, an accredited lab can have x, y and z listed on their scope of accreditation. This means that those three areas were observed by the accrediting body during the assessment process and then deemed complaint with ISO 17025 standard. However, say you request a service for w. The accredited lab can perform this service, but it will be considered “commercial calibration.” Commercial calibration doesn’t mean that the laboratory is incompetent within this area, it just means the service was not observed by the accrediting body during assessment. This could be due to a variety of reasons, particularly the laboratory requesting a limited scope of accreditation because of costs or for certain technical reasons.