ISO 17025 is an international standards that states general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. The most recent version is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and has been updated from 2005 due to technological growth and computer advancements of the recent years. The standard is the basis for holding an accreditation from a notified body. It is applicable to to any laboratory regardless of the size or testing practices.
Laboratories use ISO/IEC 17025 to implement a quality management system, with the goal of improving their consistency with production of valid results. The standard is all about competence and shares many commonalities with ISO 9001.
In order to achieve ISO 17025 accreditation, the laboratory’s quality management system and technical competence is evaluated by a third party. Audits are required to be conducted on a regular basis for the accreditation to be maintained. Accreditation is only granted by an authorized accreditation body.
ISO 17025 Accreditation confirms a satisfactory level of quality management system, and that the laboratory has the ability and competence to provide consistent testing and calibration results. Accredited labs conduct tests against international standards and results are mutually acceptable between different governmental and regulatory organizations. The arrangement between accreditation bodies is such that the member’s test result will meet the same minimal quality of standards, and thus calibration is a necessity.
A laboratory that complies with ISO/IEC 17025 benefits in the following ways:
It guarantees the reliability of results generated by the laboratories
It enhances the reliability of test results generated by the laboratory
It establishes a technical competency in the event of a speculation and/or legitimacy issues
The efficiency and customer service is improved. Customer complaints are reduced, the laboratory gains a strong competitive edge, and the operational expenditure is reduced
The regulation facilitates traceability of measurements and calibrations to optimum standards, establishes technical competency of staff, maintains all records of test equipment, ensures the accuracy of test results, validity and correctness of test and calibration methods, appropriate handling and movement of test items, and the quality of the testing environment and sampling