In an effort to improve trade between the world's two largest trading partners, the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Canadian General Standards Board recently signed an agreement for the mutual recognition of testing laboratories administered by the NIST National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program and the Laboratory Acceptance Program operated by CGSB.
The agreement was signed by Arati Prabhakar, NIST director, and Bernard Geiger, director general of CGSB. The MRA provides for mutual recognition of testing laboratories located within the territorial United States that are accredited by the NIST NVLAP program, and for testing laboratories within Canada that are accredited by CGSB's Laboratory Acceptance Program.
While NIST designates a laboratory as being accredited, CGSB applies the term acceptance for the same purpose based on comparable criteria. Both programs meet the requirements of international standards for accrediting laboratories under "ISO/IEC Guide 25: 1990--General Requirements for the Competence of Calibration and Testing Laboratories" and the operation of accrediting programs under "ISO/IEC Guide 58: 1993--Calibration and Testing Laboratory Accreditation Systems-General Requirements for Operation and Recognition".
CGSB is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada as a standards development, certification and registration organization throughout Canada and internationally. Both NVLAP and CGSB have had their operating procedures and evaluation requirements analyzed by SCC of Canada. The new MRA has been established on these joint reviews.
CGSB promotes product acceptance in Canada based on reliable data from accredited laboratories. CGSB previously applied NVLAP accredited laboratory test reports for product introduction into the marketplace under the umbrella of a 1994 mutual recognition agreement between SCC's Program for Accreditation of Laboratories, Canada, and NVLAP. The new agreement will expedite the acceptance of data from U.S. and Canadian testing organizations for both marketplaces.
CSGB is one of six national certification organizations accredited by the SCC. CGSB also is a leading standards writing organization, which has published more than 2,000 performance standards for products ranging from children's clothing to chemicals for fire extinguishers.
The CGSB Qualification and Certification Listing Program was established in 1979. It provides independent third party auditing for quality assurance systems. The third party assessments provide clients with added confidence in products and services. The CGSB Laboratory Acceptance Program assesses and registers a laboratory's quality system. The accredited laboratory may display the registered acceptance mark through licensing agreements.
The NVLAP program was established in 1976. It is a U.S. system whereby organizations and individuals request NIST to establish a laboratory accreditation program in a field of testing or calibration. On an individual basis, laboratories seek accreditation for demonstrating competence to perform specific test methods. NVLAP also accredits laboratories to fulfill regulatory requirements.
Among the many benefits of NVLAP accreditation are a quality assurance check on laboratory performance, substantive advice for improving performance and national recognition of competency. Accreditation also helps users from industry, government and other sectors to identify providers of assured quality of testing services.
NVLAP currently accredits 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 applications, construction materials, electromagnetic compatibility and telecommunications, energy efficient lighting, energy efficient electric motors, ionizing radiation dosimetry and thermal insulation. Information on the CGSB Laboratory Acceptance Program is available from the Canadian General Standards Board, Suite 1402, 222 Queen Street, Ottawa, Canada, Ontario K1A 1G6, (613) 941- 8654, fax: (613) 941-8706.
For information on the U.S. National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program, contact NVLAP, A162 Building TRF 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.