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Zoom  Zoom Issue Date:2011-09-20   Source:Firetc   Author:Firetc   Browse:3089
The Accreditation scheme has been set up by the Commission of the European Union in order to permit the free circulation of goods and products within the territory of the Community without the need for repeated tests by the authorities of the various countries.
A key component in this approach is the Accreditation Body which, being independent and representative of all the parties concerned, provides a guarantee to test users of the competence and impartiality of laboratories in performance of the accredited tests by means of periodic technical assessments (assessment visits).
In Italy this function is performed by SINAL which, operating to standard ISO/IEC 17011, assesses and exercises continuing surveillance over the compliance of the laboratories with standard UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025 and SINAL regulations.
SINAL was formed on 26 April 1988 on the initiative of UNI (Italian National Standards Body, member of ISO) and CEI (Italian Electrotechnical Committee, member of IEC) under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Crafts, of CNR (Italian National Research Council), of ENEA (National Agency for New Technology, Energy and Environment) and of the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts.
SINAL is a non-profit-making organisation with its registered office in Rome at 2 Piazza Mincio, legally recognised under a Ministry of Industry, Trade and Crafts Decree of 9 September 1991. In addition to the organisations already mentioned, current SINAL members are, in alphabetical order, ALPI (Association of Independent Testing Laboratories), ANCI (Association of Italian Shoemakers), CNA (General confederation of crafts), Coldiretti (Italian confederation of farmers), Confapi (Italian confederation of small and medium-sized industry), Lega Nazionale delle Cooperative e Mutue (League of Co-operatives), Ministries ( Environment, Production and Foreign Trade, Communications, Defence, Public Works and Transportation, Interior, Labour and social security, Agriculture food and forest, Health), Rete Ferroviaria Italiana spa (Italian national railways), Union of the Chambers of Commerce, SCI (Italian Chemistry Society, AISEM (Italian Association Sensors and Microsystems), ALA (Accredited Laboratories Association).
SINAL does not accredit consultancy work but does accredit laboratories for any type of test on the results of which consultants may base their own work. Accreditation does not result in any decrease in responsibilities deriving from contracts between the laboratory and its clients.
Although accreditation is an indicator of technical and managerial competence on the part of the testing laboratory, it does not constitute a warranty issued by SINAL on the individual services supplied by the laboratory.
Application for accreditation is voluntary and open to any testing laboratory, whether independent or part of a larger organisation (company, research institute, university etc.).
SINAL grants, maintains or withdraws accreditation and for the duration of the period of accreditation exercises the surveillance necessary to guarantee the competence and impartiality of the laboratory.
Specifically, SINAL:
1.       performs periodic visits for assessment of the technical and organisational requisites of the testing laboratories to ensure the traceability of reference standards, the reliability and repeatability of the procedures, use of suitable instruments, the competence of the personnel, the impartiality of personnel performing the tests and the technical opinion issued by the laboratory, as provided for by standard UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025 and by SINAL regulations.
2.       publishes accreditation procedures, the database of accredited laboratories and any suspensions and/or revocations of accreditation.
3.       takes part in the work of international and/or supranational bodies operating in the field of testing laboratory accreditation
4.       collaborates with Italian and international standard organisations to promote appropriate drafting or updating of technical standards.
5.       promotes studies, meetings and actions in its area of competence in co-operation with national and international associations.
SINAL also contributes to reducing the technical barriers that hinder international trade by signing mutual recognition and/or reciprocity agreements with corresponding bodies in other countries.
Agreements of this type facilitate the export of goods and services by promoting acceptance by the competent government authorities and certification organisations of test reports issued by accredited laboratories in the signatory countries, avoiding the need for repetition of the same type of tests on materials and products coming from the various national markets.
On 14 June 1993, SINAL joined the first European group of signatories of a mutual recognition agreement of test laboratory accreditation organisations in the WELAC (Western European Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) ambit. That agreement is currently managed by EA (European cooperation for Accreditation) and has also been signed by accreditation bodies of non-European countries. The entry of the first non-European accreditation organisations into the multilateral mutual recognition agreement is particularly significant because it was linked to the approval within GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), currently WTO (World Trade Organisation) of an agreement to eliminate technical obstacles to trade, which adopts in full the system chosen by the European Community for the free circulation of goods (accreditation
mutual recognition) SINAL has also signed the ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) multilateral arrangement of which the accreditation organisations in over thirty countries in all parts of the world are members, and which has been operating since 2001.
SINAL has signed collaboration agreements with the corresponding Italian national organisations for assessment of compliance with standards in the series ISO/IEC 17000 - EN 45000 - EN ISO 9000 in order to avoid repetition of assessment visits to the same organisation in the event that the latter applies for accreditation and/or certification by bodies signatories to these agreements. This objective is achieved through joint management of assessments of compliance with the respectively applicable standards, by assessment groups appointed jointly by SINAL and the other accreditation/certification body (namely, SINCERT - National System for Accreditation of Certification Bodies, SIT - Italian Body for Accreditation of Calibration Laboratories, various certification bodies accredited by SINCERT).

The requirements for accreditation are set out in standard UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025 and SINAL documents.
According to these requirements, the laboratory must have executives and personnel of adequate experience and competence, and equipment, plants and premises suitable for carrying out the tests envisaged. The management must safeguard the quality of the work; that is, it must ensure that the apparatus is calibrated, identified and stored in an appropriate manner; that the test samples are properly identified and stored, that the results are recorded, that the test reports are true and that documentation is retained and is traceable.
Accreditation is granted on the basis of examination of documentation and the results of assessment visits.
The applicant laboratory will be asked to present in its quality manual (that is, the document that describes its own quality system) information on its management, personnel, equipment and calibration certificates, lines of responsibility for quality problems and the corresponding procedures. The laboratory will also be requested to specify (in the accreditation application) the types of test for which it desires to be accredited. The team of appointed assessors (choosen from the list of qualified audotirs approved by the SINAL Accreditation Committee) will perform a review of the laboratory documents and will conduct the assessment visit at the laboratory's premises.In cases in which the laboratory does not satisfy the requirements for accreditation, SINAL will issue a corrective actions request.
The decision on accreditation is taken by the Accreditation Committee on the basis of the information supplied by the laboratory and the results of the assessment visit.
If accreditation is approved, a convention is signed between SINAL and the laboratory and the latter is sent the Certificate of Accreditation and the attached list of tests for which the laboratory is accredited.
All the information obtained by SINAL, involved in accreditation of the laboratory, will be treated by strict confidentiality.
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