ISO 17020 – (Inspection Quality Management System)
The significance of third and second party inspections has assumed greater significance in the background of increasing reliance on reliable conformity assessment results by regulators as well as by large scale buyers including retail segments. While certification schemes fulfil these requirements to a certain extent, a large component of trade relies on pre dispatch commodity inspection. A large number of buyers / regulators impose stringent conditions on the inspection systems and technical competence of the inspection agencies before empanelment, which are to be demonstrated and sustained by the Inspection bodies.
What is ISO 17020?
Inspection body accreditation is the procedure by which an authoritative body gives a formal recognition that an inspection body is competent and impartial to carry out the inspection service according to ISO/IEC 17020. The objective of accreditation is to assure the clients of the quality of the inspection service of the inspection body as well as to avoid duplicate inspection which may be required on the clients. Examples of the inspection bodies are those for boilers in factories, liquid petroleum gas, pressure vessels, Used cars, pre-shipment inspection body, etc.
To apply for accreditation, the inspection body must comply with the standard ISO/IEC 17020 General Criteria for the Operation of Various Types of Bodies Performing Inspection.
Inspection Body: – is a body which carries out the examination of the product design, product, service, process or plant, and determination of their conformity with specific requirements or general requirements. The inspection body shall be legally identifiable, and shall have documentation which describes its functions and the technical scope of activity for which it is competent.
Type of Inspection Body: - Inspection body can be classified into 3 types as follows :
(1) Type A inspection body is the inspection body which provides “third party” inspection service. The inspection body and its staff shall not engage in any activities that may conflict with their independence of judgement and integrity in relation to their inspection activities.
(2) Type B inspection body is the inspection body which forms a separate and an identifiable part of an Organization and has been established to supply inspection services to its parent organization.
(3) Type C inspection body is the inspection body which forms an identifiable part of an organization and has been established to supply inspection services to its parent organization and other external organizations.
Therefore, inspection body can be an organization or part of an organization.
Organization and Management of Inspection Body:-
(1) The inspection body shall have an organization that enables it to maintain the capability to perform its technical functions satisfactorily.
(2) The inspection body shall define and document the responsibilities and reporting structure of the organization.
(3) The inspection body shall designate a technical manager, who is qualified and experienced in the operation of the inspection body.
(4) The inspection body’s staff shall be supervised to have knowledge and understanding of inspection methods and procedures in order to carry out the inspection services effectively.
(5) The inspection body shall have named persons who will deputize in the absence of any manager, however named, responsible for inspection services.
(6) The inspection body shall describe job descriptions including requirements for education, training, technical knowledge and experience of its personnel affecting the quality of the inspection services.
(7) The inspection body shall have documented procedures for dealing with customer complaints, corrective action and preventive action whenever discrepancies are detected in the quality system.
(8) The management of the inspection body shall review the quality system at the specified intervals to ensure its continuing suitability and effectiveness.
Personnel of Inspection Body:-
(1) The inspection body shall have permanent personnel with the range of expertise, appropriate qualifications, training, experience and knowledge of the requirements of the inspections to be carried out. They shall have the ability to make professional judgements as to conformity with general requirements using examination results.
(2) The inspection body shall establish a documented training system to ensure that its personnel have knowledge of technical and administrative aspects of the work in which they are involved.
(3) The inspection body shall maintain records of academic qualifications, training and experience of each member of its personnel.
Facilities and Equipment of Inspection Body:-
(1) The inspection body shall have available to it suitable and adequate facilities and equipment to permit all activities associated with the inspection services to be carried out.
(2) The inspection body shall ensure that all such equipment is properly maintained and calibrated. The overall program of calibration of equipment shall be designed and operated so as to ensure that wherever applicable measurements made by the inspection body are traceable to national and international standards of measurement where available.
(3) The inspection body shall have procedures for purchasing.
(4) The inspection body shall have procedures for dealing with defective equipment.
(5) The inspection body shall record relevant information on the equipment.
Inspection Methods and Procedures :-
(1) The inspection body shall use the defined methods and procedures.
(2) The inspection body shall have adequate documented instructions on inspection planning, standard sampling and inspection techniques.
(3) All instructions, standards or written procedures, worksheets, checklists and reference data relevant to the work of the inspection body shall be maintained up-to-date and be readily available to the staff.
(4) The inspection body shall have a contract or work order control system which ensures that work to be taken is within its expertise and that the organization has adequate resources, and completed work is reviewed to confirm that the defined methods and procedures are followed.
(5) Observations and/or data obtained in the course of inspections shall be recorded in a timely manner to prevent loss of relevant information.
Handling Inspection Samples and Items:-
(1) The inspection body shall ensure that samples and items received are uniquely identified to avoid confusion. Any apparent abnormalities noticed to, or noticed by, the inspector shall be recorded before commencement of the inspection.
(2) The inspection body shall have documented procedures and appropriate facilities to avoid deterioration or damage to inspection items while under its responsibility.
(1) The inspection body shall maintain a record system of its inspection activities. All records shall be safely stored for a specified period, to avoid deterioration or damage.
Inspection Reports or Inspection Certificates (1) The inspection report or inspection certificate shall include all the results of examinations and the determination of conformity made from these results. This information shall be reported clearly. (2) The inspection report or inspection certificate shall be signed by authorized person.
(1) When an inspection body subcontracts any part of the inspection, it shall ensure and be able to demonstrate that its subcontractor is competent to perform the service and complies with the defined criteria.
(2) The inspection body shall record and retain details of its investigation of the competence and compliance of its subcontractors.
Complaints and Appeals
(1) The inspection body shall have documented procedures for dealing with complaints received from clients or other parties about the inspection body’s activities.
(2) The inspection body shall have documented procedures for the consideration and resolution of appeals against the results of its inspection.
(3) The inspection body shall maintain a record of all complaints and appeals and of the action taken.
(1) The inspection body is expected to participate in an exchange of experience with other inspection bodies and in the standardization processes as appropriate.
Overview of ISO 17020
The requirements of ISO 17020 are contained in 14 major sections including :
Requirements for independence, impartiality, and integrity
Organization and management
Facilities and equipment
Inspection methods and procedures
Handling of inspection samples and items
Control of records
Inspection reports and inspection certificates
Complaints and appeals
Cooperation with other inspection bodies
Like ISO 9001 and ISO 17025, ISO 17020 requires procedures in several important areas, including:
Procedure to ensure that persons or organizations external to the inspection body cannot influence the results of inspections by the ISO 17020-accredited organization
Procedure for feedback
Procedure for corrective action
Procedure for the care and maintenance of equipment
Procedure for selecting qualified suppliers
Procedure for purchasing
Procedure for inspection of materials received by the organization
Procedure for appropriate storage facilities
Procedure for protecting the integrity of data produced by the organization
Procedure for ensuring the security of data produced by the organization
Procedure for dealing with defective equipment
Procedure(s) for performing inspections
Procedure(s) for performing non-standard inspections
Procedure(s) for avoiding deterioration or damage to inspection items
Procedure for dealing with complaints
Procedure for dealing with appeals against the results of inspections
In addition FOCUS ISO recommends the following additional procedures as a minimum supplement to the required procedures:
Control of non-conforming work
Calibration of equipment
Reporting the results of an inspection
FOCUS ISO offers comprehensive services that will help you achieve your ISO 17020 quality goals. We can:
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Prepare the following key documents:
Master List of Documents
Manage implementation schedules, training, follow-up actions
Help you select a Registrar that has experience in your industry
Prepare status reports and monitor progress
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