PAPUA NEW GUINEA LABORATORY ACCREDITATION SCHEME GENERAL INFORMATION
Laboratory Accreditation and Its Objectives
Laboratory accreditation provides a means of determining the competence of laboratories to perform specific types of testing, measurement and calibration. It enables people who want a product, material or instrument to be checked or calibrated to find a reliable testing or calibration service able to meet their needs. It also allows the laboratory to determine whether it is performing its work correctly and to appropriate standards. Manufacturing organizations may also use laboratory accreditation to ensure the testing of their products by their own in-house laboratories is being done correctly.
Very importantly, laboratory accreditation provides formal recognition to competent laboratories, thus providing a ready means for customers to access reliable testing and calibration service.
In Papua New Guinea, PNGLAS (Papua New Guinea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme) is the national accreditation body that assesses and accredits testing and calibration laboratories. The scheme is administered by the National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology (NISIT).
The institute established an accreditation service, which closely assembles the National Association of Testing Authority, Australia (NATA) system by accrediting laboratories operated by manufacturing industries, government departments, educational institutions and commercial consultants. The scheme is voluntary.
PNGLAS just like any accreditation body in the world have adopted an international standard, called ISO/IEC 17025, as the basis for the accreditation of its testing and calibration laboratories. The adoption of these standards simply means that PNGLAS approach to determining laboratory competence is uniform with other accreditation bodies that have also adopted the same standard.
Although the basic criteria for accreditation are the same for every laboratory, the manner in which these criteria are applied in any particular laboratory will vary depending on the nature of the laboratory. Some laboratory may have one or more functions and in each of these situations, may place their own demand on the nature of the organization, methodology, staffing, equipment, accommodation and operational procedures needed to fulfil their intended function.
The current laboratory accreditation system that PNGLAS have adopted is equivalent to that developed by NATA of Australia. Thus, each laboratory assessment has two purposes:
This is a thorough examination and evaluation of all the aspects of a laboratory’s management, staff, equipment, records and operations that affects the reliability of test results. The question of whether the laboratories comply or does not comply with the accreditation requirements depends on the assessor’s findings and recommendations to the Council.
During the assessment the assessment team may provide advice to testing authorities on means of correcting deficiencies and suggests areas of improvements. Almost every initial assessment of an applicant laboratory will uncover some aspects of laboratory that does not meet PNGLAS requirements. Even for a registered laboratory, it is not common to find one or more areas that have fallen below the required standard. For such situation the Council through its assessors will provide technical advice on how to correct deficiencies, preventive means and improvements.
This document outlines the general information on laboratory accreditation mechanism and philosophy and is referred to as non-technical notes. For technical notes/rules on specific testing fields, NISIT have adopted applicable NATA technical notes in full and/or with amendments to suit PNG practices.
When a laboratory is accredited, its details including its scope of accreditation are published in the PNGLAS Directory and made available on the NISIT website, www.nisit.gov.pg.
2.0 STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE
PNGLAS was established in 1983 by the then National Standard Act - 1978. This was repealed in 1993 and replaced by NISIT Act – 1993. The National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology (NISIT) is a non-profit Government agency, which administer PNGLAS.
The NISIT Act – 1993 established the NISIT Council which is responsible to the Minister responsible for NISIT and also for the administration of the standardization activities including laboratory accreditation. The Council members appointed by the Minister are representatives from industry, government and professional bodies.
The Papua New Guinea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (PNGLAS) is a national organization for conformity assessment for laboratories. Through NISIT Act – 1993, the Papua New Guinea government recognizes PNGLAS as the only national accreditation body for establishing competent laboratory practice in the country. PNGLAS is a full member of the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) and the, International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), and an associate member of Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC). PNGLAS is also a signatory to the ILAC and APLAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement for testing only.
Testing Laboratory Accreditation Board (TLAB)
The Council established a Board called the Testing Laboratory Accreditation Board (TLAB) that is responsible for making accreditation decisions, developing specific criteria for each field of testing based on international criteria and exercise a technical supervisory function over accredited laboratories. The Board also on behalf of the Council supervises the assessment of the laboratories and resolve queries relating to technical policies.
The Board’s memberships are equally drawn from industries, government and professional bodies including scientific and research organizations. The members are appointed as individuals for their personal knowledge and expertise. They do not represent their employer or any other organization with which they may be associated.
The Accreditation Advisory Committees (AAC)
The Accreditation Advisory Committees (AAC) have the primary function of reviewing assessment and surveillance reports, and making recommendations to the Testing Laboratory Accreditation Board (TLAB) on the granting, extending, suspending and withdrawal of accreditation. It also reviews technical issues and advises the TLAB and the NISIT Council on accreditation criteria, guidance documents and procedures for the operation of the PNGLAS.
The members of the committees are representatives from lead assessors, technical assessors and experts from the PNGLAS, relevant government authorities, industry, research and academic institutions, as well as accredited laboratories. This composition aims to provide for a balanced representation of all parties having interest in accreditation.
The members are appointed based on their competence with respect to accreditation, general conformity assessment and experience with regard to specific field of testing. They are appointed by the NISIT Council upon recommendation by the TLAB.
The Scheme has a small pool of experts and/or assessors that have been volunteering to assist with the laboratory assessments. The assessors assist PNGLAS on voluntary basis. Under the Memorandum of Understanding between NATA and NISIT, NATA provides technical support to PNGLAS through its technical assessors. When required, NATA assessors are invited to assist and train PNGLAS local experts during assessments.
3.0 THE OBJECTIVES OF LABORATORY ACCREDITATION
The main objectives of PNGLAS are:
- to provide, in the national interest, laboratory accreditation service which meets the needs of PNG stakeholders;
- facilitates the recognition and acceptance of test reports, products and services; and
- to promote science and practice of laboratory accreditation to enhance the acceptance of PNG reports or data and associated goods or services locally or on foreign markets.
5.0 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ACCREDITATION
The general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories are described in PNGS ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories or ISO 15189 for medical laboratories. These requirements are designed to apply to all types of testing and calibration and therefore often need to be interpreted with respect to the type of calibration or testing concerned, and the techniques involved.
All testing or calibration laboratories must comply with all relevant clauses of PNGS ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 15189, the PNGLAS Rules, and relevant statutory requirements. Additional information relating to specific areas of testing or changes or additions to accreditation requirements or policies may be issued from time to time in the form of Technical or Policy documents. These shall supersede any previous requirements where indicated, and should be filed in the relevant section of PNGLAS accreditation requirement (PAR) package. The contents of the PAR are:
1. PNGLAS General Information
2. PNGS ISO/IEC 17025:2005 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories or ISO 15189 for medical laboratories
3. ISO/IEC 17025 Application Document – Supplementary Requirements for Accreditation in relevant Field of Testing or FAD for ISO 15189.
4. PNGLAS Rules
5. Policies/Technical Circulars (where applicable)
Technical Notes are also available to assist laboratories in relation to particular technical issues. They are intended to provide guidance and therefore do not contain requirements for accreditation, unless specifically indicated in this document. Copies may be obtained from the PNGLAS office. A copy of the PNGLAS Accreditation Requirements must be readily available to staff working in a PNGLAS accredited or applicant laboratory.
6.0 FIELDS OF TESTING
The Papua New Guinea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme provides accreditation to the following fields of testing:
· Acoustic and Vibration Measurement
· Mechanical Testing
· Biological Testing
· Medical Testing
· Chemical Testing
· Electrical Testing
· Non-destructive Testing
· Forensic Science
· Optics and Radiometry
· Heat and Temperature Measurement
· Veterinary Testing
· Information Technology Testing