Enter the world of conformity assessment...

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ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has just published an essential reference work for all engaged in, or concerned with international trade issues. The fourth edition of the ISO/IEC Compendium, Conformity assessment: Guides and Standards (ISBN 92-67-10287-7), gathers in one handy volume the current porfolio of trade-facilitating documents developed within the ISO Committee on conformity assessment, CASCO.

Since the advent of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, conformity assessment in general has assumed greater importance and CASCO's work in particular is recognized by the WTO for its role in enhancing world trade.

The growth of CASCO's work is illustrated by the fact that of the 19 documents comprising this fourth edition of the Conformity Assessment Compendium, seven are new compared to the third edition and two are revised.

The international impact of the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 standards is reflected by the presence among the new documents of Guide 62, General requirements for bodies operating assessment and certification/registration of quaity systems, Guide 61, General requirements for assessment and accreditation of certification/registration bodies, and the Draft Guide 66, General requirements for bodies operating assessment and certification/registration of environmental management systems (EMS).

Conformity assessment has become an important component of world trade. At its simplest, "conformity assessment" means checking that products, materials, services, systems or people measure up to the specifications of a relevant standard.

Conformity assessment activities are not performed by ISO but are carried out by independent specialized inspection and certification bodies, and testing laboratories, such as SGS-ICS, TELARC and Underwriters Laboratories.

The mission of ISO is to develop International Standards, not to verify that ISO standards are being implemented by users in conformity with the requirements of its standards. However, in partnership with IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ISO/CASCO develops ISO/IEC Guides and Standards covering various aspects of conformity assessment activities and the organizations that represent them. The voluntary criteria contained in these Guides represent an international consensus on what constitutes best practice. Their use contributes to the consistency and coherence of conformity assessment worldwide and so facilitates trade across borders.

ISO has also just published another CASCO document which, in addition to trade specialists, should also be of interest to consumer organizations: Marks of Conformity Assessment: A Brief Report on Current Practices in the Use of Marks of Conformity Assessment, including Marks of Conformity and Logos (ISBN 92-67-10303-2).

"Marks can convey powerful messages about a product or service, but do all users understand the messages?" the authors ask in their introduction. "Does a mark attest to the safety of a particular product, or its impact on the environment, or its durability and performance?"

The report represents a preliminary output by a CASCO working group which is preparing an International Standard on the use of marks, intended, among other aims, to reduce confusion about what they actually stand for, and to avoid their misuse.

The ISO/IEC Compendium, Conformity assessment: Guides and Standards (ISBN 92-67-10287-7), 230 pages, and the ISO/CASCO report, Marks of Conformity Assessment (ISBN 92-67-10303-2), 12 pages, are available from ISO national member institutes (see list on ISO's Web site: www.iso.org) and ISO Central Secretariat (salesiso.ch). The Compendium costs 101 Swiss francs. Up to 10 copies of the report on marks are free; there will be a handling and postage charge for larger orders. An electronic copy of the report is posted on ISO's Web site.

The Conformity Assessment Compendium includes the following documents:

Guides

  • ISO/IEC Guide 7:1994: Guidelines for drafting of standards suitable for use for conformity assessment
  • ISO/IEC Guide 22:1996: General criteria for supplier's declaration of conformity
  • ISO/IEC Guide 23:1982: Methods of indicating conformity with standards for third-party certification systems
  • ISO/IEC Guide 25:1990: General requirements for the competence of calibration and testing laboratories
  • ISO Guide 27:1983: Guidelines for corrective action to be taken by a certifica-tion body in the event of misuse of its mark of conformity
  • ISO/IEC Guide 28:1982: General rules for a model third-party certification system for products
  • ISO/IEC Guide 43-1:1997: Proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparisons -Part 1: Development and operation of proficiency testing schemes
  • ISO/IEC Guide 43-2:1997: Proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparisons -Part 2: Selection and use of proficiency testing schemes by laboratory accreditation bodies
  • ISO/IEC Guide 53:1988: An approach to the utilization of a supplier's quality system in third party product certification
  • ISO/IEC Guide 58:1993: Calibration and testing laboratory accreditation systems - General requirements for operation and recognition
  • ISO/IEC Guide 60:1994: ISO/IEC Code of good practice for conformity assessment
  • ISO/IEC Guide 61:1996: General requirements for assessment and accreditation of certification/registration bodies
  • ISO/IEC Guide 62:1996: General requirements for bodies operating assessment and certification/registration of quality systems
  • ISO/IEC Guide 65:1996: General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems

International Standard

  • ISO/IEC 17020:1998: General criteria for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection

Technical Report

  • ISO/IEC TR 17010:1998: General requirements for bodies providing accreditation of inspection bodies

Draft Guide

  • ISO/IEC Draft Guide 66: General requirements for bodies operating assessment and certification/registration of environmental management systems (EMS)

Draft International Standard

  • ISO/IEC DIS 17025:General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories

Annex

  • Extract from ISO/IEC Guide 2:1996: Standardization and related activities - General vocabulary, Clauses 12 to 17

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