The National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology now will accept applications from calibration laboratories seeking accreditation to perform calibration services based on compatibility with international standards.
The new NVLAP program will help manufacturers, exporters, testing laboratories and others to gain acceptance of U.S. calibration and tests results between countries to avoid barriers to trade.
Administered by NIST, NVLAP programs are operated in conformance with International Organization for Standardization document ISO/IEC Guide 58: 1993—Calibration and Testing Laboratory Accreditation Systems-General Requirements for Operation and Recognition.
The new program to accredit calibration laboratories stems from a request by the National Conference of Standards Laboratories, an association of more than 1,100 organizations. The NCSL proposal expressed a desire by member labs to qualify for recognition by European Union countries and reduce the multiple audits they are subjected to by U.S. federal agencies in order to meet procurement requirements.
According to NVLAP Chief Albert D. Tholen, recent changes to regulations for NVLAP procedures will facilitate cooperation between laboratories and other bodies to assist in the exchange of information and experience, harmonize standards and procedures, and establish the basis for bilateral and multilateral agreements under the North American Free Trade Agreement and mutual recognition agreements between the United States and member countries.
NVLAP accreditation is available to commercial laboratories; manufacturers' in-house laboratories; university laboratories; and federal, state and local government laboratories. Foreign- based laboratories also may be accredited if they meet the same requirements as domestic laboratories and pay any additional fees required for travel expenses.
Tholen notes that NVLAP also will offer accreditation to all state laboratories currently accredited under the NIST Office of Weights and Measures State Laboratory Program. A NVLAP and OWM partnership will provide additional recognition for state laboratories on a national and international level. He adds that at least 35 state laboratories could receive dual accreditation.
NVLAP accreditation indicates that a laboratory's quality system, staff, facilities and equipment, calibration protocols, methods and procedures, records, and reports have been evaluated and found to meet NVLAP criteria, which are fully compatible with ISO/IEC Guide 25: 1990—General Requirements for the Competence of Calibration and Testing Laboratories.
The NVLAP program currently accredits more than 700 laboratories in the following fields of testing: acoustical, asbestos fiber analysis, carpet, commercial products (paint, paper, plastics, plumbing, and seals and sealants), computer applications, construction materials, electromagnetic compatibility and telecommunications, energy-efficient lighting, ionizing radiation dosimetry, solid-fuel room heaters and thermal insulation.
To obtain an application package or for further information, contact James L. Cigler, program manager, NVLAP, A162 Building 411, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-4016, fax: (301) 926-2884.
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.