Construction: case studies, research, etc.

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Spanish Administration trusts in accreditation to control urban planning development

Some regional administrations and city councils are establishing measures to liberalize and reduce administrative burdens in different areas of municipal activity in Spain. In many cases such measures include Councils and private bodies collaborating to perform certain inspections. As a general rule, in these cases the Administration relies on ENAC accreditation to provide adequate confidence in the independence and technical competence of these institutions.

The region of Madrid published the 639/2014 Order of 10 April, which regulates collaborating private bodies exercising the administrative inspection and control functions in urban planning. The new regulatory framework in Madrid opened the possibility of the Administration collaborating with ECUS (Urban Planning Collaborating Bodies) accredited by ENAC for inspection and control in the whole Region, when previously they were only authorized in the City of Madrid.

Meanwhile, the region of Valencia has published the 7/2014 Decree for a similar scheme with private bodies called Administrative Certification Agencies, according to the “14/2010 Law, 3 December, of the Government of Public Entertainment, Recreation and Public establishments, Shows”.

The region of Galicia has published the 9/2013 Law of 19 December “Entrepreneurship and the economic competitiveness of Galicia” which identifies similar bodies: the ECCOM, which will carry out certification, verification, inspection and facility and establishment conformity control actions in the whole of the Galicia Region as well as activities with regulations applied at the municipal level.  Galicia has also published the 144/2016 Decree, that approves the regulation of economic activities and establishments opening.

ENAC’s accreditation of these bodies for control of urban planning activities, provides a declaration of competence, impartiality and good work in performing the inspections. Thereby giving the Administration confidence in the collaboration work done by these conformity inspectors.

Using accreditation to underpin technical decisions in Sri Lanka

Making Accreditation Mandatory in Sri Lanka for Taking Technical Decisions

In order to create a quality conscious culture in Sri Lanka, it was the view of the Cabinet Ministers that technical measures on the issues related to quality, environment, food safety, occupational health and safety, energy etc. must be controlled and monitored through stipulated standards and technical regulations.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka has taken a decision and proposed to implement relevant regulations by making conformity assessment procedures such as testing (including medical testing and calibration), inspection and certification mandatory and using accreditation as a means of providing assurance and trust on consumers. The proposal contains following main three activities;

a) To use regulations and implement conformity assessment procedures such as testing, inspection and certification by regulators for controlling activities in relation to quality, environment, food safety, occupational health and safety, energy etc.

b) To update regulations in which conformity assessment procedures are not mentioned and/or accreditation is not used as a means of acceptance and to include statement to reflect “not to use any facility that is not assessed and accredited”.

c) To develop a conformity assessment framework which is composed of testing laboratories, inspection bodies and/or certification bodies as applicable, within and outside the regulatory bodies to facilitate accreditation.

Attention has also been drawn on the frequently questioned market fairness issues related to the assurance of safety and public utility measures in relation to accuracy of water meters, electricity meters, taxi meters etc.

Hon. Minister of Science, Technology has requested from relevant Ministries and Regulatory bodies to take immediate measures to comply with the above Cabinet Decision.

Construction Products Regulation in Europe

EU Construction Products Regulation CPR (305/2011) means that CE marking is mandatory for many construction products. CPR stands for Construction Products Regulation. Construction products must also have a declaration of performance to be sold. This is provided that they are covered by a harmonized standard or has an European Technical approval, ETA. More information about the regulations concerning construction products are available from the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning.

In most cases, the Construction Products Regulation require that a notified body should be involved before the CE marking. Swedac is responsible for assessing competence through accreditation and the notification to the European Commission of notified bodies. Swedac is also responsible for assessment of Technical Approval Bodies, TAB. The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning is responsible to notify them to the European Commission.

Swedac process for the assessment and notification is described on the European Commission website.

What the notified bodies are and what their notification covers is shown by the EU Commission database Nando. The TABs are also listed.

Further information is available from the Swedish Government website.

Japanese local governments and public agencies rely on accredited testing in the ready-mixed concrete and building material industries

In Japan, Testing Laboratory Accreditation System based on the JIS Law (Japan National Laboratory Accreditation System, JNLA) for concrete strength testing and metallic materials tensile testing are adopted in specifications or guidance documents issued by local governments and public agencies as part of requirements for third party testing facility.

Based on these requirements, for example in the ready-mixed concrete and building material industries, testing facilities are accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 as testing laboratories so that they can deliver confidence in their test results and contribute in ensuring the safety of public construction and built environment.

Type approval of construction products

The type approval is a national system for verifying construction products with the requirements in the Swedish building regulations. The type approval shall be granted only if the product is not covered by a harmonized standard or a European Technical approval, ETA. Type approved construction products are labeled with the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning‘s mark of type approval, “the fork”. More information about the system is available at the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, which issues regulations in the area. The type approval is issued by certification bodies that are accredited by SWEDAC.

SWEDAC accredits also inspection body type A for the production control.

More information is available from the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning website.

Ensuring the competence of site investigations

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore regulates that site investigation reports must be certified by a qualified person and all soil tests shall be carried out by a laboratory accredited laboratory by Singapore Accreditation Council. Under Building Control Act (Chapter 29) Section 39, any construction material testing shall be carried out in a laboratory accredited by Singapore Accreditation Council.

Further information is available from:

Fire Safety in Singapore

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) regulates fire safety products in Singapore through a Product Listing Scheme (PLS) which was implemented in 1998. The scheme ensures that fire safety products conform to safety, reliability and performance standards. Since 15 Apr 2008, Certification Bodies (CBs) based in Singapore have to be accredited by the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) or any SAC Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) partners for product certification of regulated fire safety products before they are accepted by SCDF.

Further information is available from the SCDF website.

Ensuring the safety of Dutch Swimming Pools

According to Dutch Building Regulations, owners of indoor pools must demonstrate that steel installations and metal rigging are safe. Following a number of accidents, the Minister for Housing amended the legislation to ensure greater visitor safety by requiring accredited inspection bodies to survey the integrity of steel and metal structure.

This is stated in an amendment to the Building Decree 2012, published in the Official Gazette. (in Dutch)

Delivering confidence in the Dutch construction sector

The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has signed up to a tripartite agreement with Stichting Bouwkwaliteit (foundation for building quality) and the Dutch accreditation body (RvA) that recognises accredited conformity in the building sector. This agreement is in line with the European Construction Products Regulation, by which the market authorisation requirements of many construction products are now provided for at European level.

Details of the agreement, which aims to deliver a safe working environment and quality buildings in the construction sector, can be found on the Government website.

Construction tenders in Northern Ireland require accredited EMS

In Northern Ireland, all construction works contracts procured by a Centre of Procurement Expertise (CoPE) will include a requirement that all main contractors seeking to tender shall have and maintain an Environmental Management System (EMS) certified by a third party.

Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) in conjunction with the CoPEs will approve and accept third party certification of an EMS provided that:

  • it is based on a recognised standard – for example, ISO 14001, BS8555 or equivalent and
  • it is construction focused incorporating site inspections and
  • the third party certification body is accredited or recognised

Further information is available on the Department website.



Accreditation key to the awarding of government contracts for contractors and consultations

The Jordanian Government Tenders Directorate (GTD) is responsible for the classification of contractors and consultants, and for their qualification in coordination with the relevant authority. It is also responsible for the unification of conditions for the holding of contractual and technical service agreements, and the terms of reference and procedures for bidding for contracts.

In 2006, a decision was issued that the GTD will consider accreditation as the key condition for the use of technical services and the qualification of contractors and consultants for government tenders.

Further information is available on the GTD website.


Qualification of organization that participate to public tenders in the construction field

Accredited ISO 9001 certification is used in Italy to qualify organisations able to bid for work in the construction field.

This benefits the state in that it is able to check all companies that respond to a tender according to a specific standard approved by a third party, with no cost for the State.

30,000 audits are performed per year by competent people at no cost to the state.

World Bank-GFDRR report cites accreditation to support building control

The World Bank-GFDRR report Building Regulation for Resilience: Managing Risks for Safer Cities released in April 2016 outlines the benefits of strong and effective building regulatory frameworks. The report provides a resource to assist policy makers, governments, donor entities, as well as key private sector players in leveraging good-practice building regulation to underpin risk reduction strategies. It addresses vulnerability reduction in cities across the developing world and proposes to support disaster-prone countries in implementing effective regulatory reform.

The use of accredited testing, inspection and certification are referenced as tools to support local regulators and building control.

Download the Report | Executive Summary

Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities (New Zealand)

Introduced in 2009, only registered Building Consent Authorities (BCAs) may perform building consenting and inspection functions in terms of the Building Act 2004. The Act provides for Territorial Authorities and private organizations to apply for registration. Also, local government authorities will need to be registered to carry out building control work on dams.

Accreditation Criteria

The Department of Building and Housing has published standards and criteria for accrediting Building Consent Authorities under the Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006. IANZ undertakes the assessments of Building Consent Authorities against these standards and criteria for registration by the Department of Building and Housing. There are 19 regulations, of which applicants are expected to meet 11 of the standards and criteria by 31 March 2009. The most important are that a Building Consent Authority must have:

  • appropriate policies, systems and procedures in writing record how it ensures that it implements effective policies, procedures and systems;
  • it must record the key decisions it makes, the reasons for them, and the outcomes and actions of those decisions.

Assessment Criteria

To assist applicants, the Department of Building and Housing has published the Building Consent Authority Accreditation Preparation and Self-assessment Guide (published February 2007). The purpose of the guide is to:

  • assist organisations that apply to become building consent authorities to prepare their policies, processes and procedures for accreditation assessment and ongoing compliance;
  • assist organisations to assess how well existing policies, processes and procedures comply with the accreditation requirements;
  • assist organisations to assess how well implemented their existing and new systems; and
  • provide good-practice guidance that may be used (or adapted for use) by building consent authorities to demonstrate compliance with the accreditation standards.

Accreditation Criteria

India recognises ILAC and IAF arrangements in its steel regulations

The Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade has relaxed its import rules of steel and steel products, and will rely on the ILAC and IAF arrangements to maintain quality assurance.

Quality certification should be either from a product certification body (ISO Guide 65/ISO 17065) accredited by an IAF MLA signatory, or from an ISO 17020 inspection body accredited by an ILAC Signatory.

Further information is available from the DGFT website.

Supporting Regulators in the Palestine construction industry

The Engineering Association is the licensing authority for construction and building materials laboratories, based on the law of the engineering association No. 15:1972 and approved systems and procedures. The Engineering Association uses the accreditation certificate as a condition to renew the annual license for the construction and building materials laboratories. (Palestine)

Hong Kong Housing Authority specifies the use of certified products and uses certified management systems

The Hong Kong Housing Authority builds an average of 20000 flats per year for the public sector of Hong Kong. The quality of building materials and components is always of prime concern to the Housing Authority and the industry since rework of any non-complying building products would have time & cost implications to the housing projects. Housing Authority fully recognizes that product certification is an upstream quality control process and it offers higher quality assurance through regular rigorous audits by a competent third party certification body.

Since 2010, the Housing Authority has specified the requirement of using certified products for ten major building materials in its construction projects. This initiative expedites the development of product certification for construction materials. Other than those building materials specified by Housing Authority, more construction product certification schemes had also been developed or are being developed (e.g. steel reinforcement, paints, mechanical couplers, aggregate products, etc) per the requirement of various stakeholders.  Product certification provides a reliable means for assuring production quality throughout the whole production process from incoming raw materials, production, inspection, sample selection and testing, traceability, etc thus making available certified construction products of quality for use in building projects.

Click here for further information.

As well as specifying the use of certified products for building materials in its construction projects, the Hong Kong Housing Authority makes extensive use of management systems standards to deliver better performance in a number of areas. For example, the Authority’s Mid-Year Performance Review of the 2013/14 Corporate Plan  states that certification to ISO 50001 Energy Management system standard has been achieved at its Kwai Shing West Estate.

The above Review additionally states in section 3.11, ‘To further enhance the quality of estate management and to develop a comfortable and healthy living environment for our PRH tenants, we (the Hong Kong Housing Authority) had implemented the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Certification programme in planned maintenance and improvement works for all estates as well as in property management since 2010. We had successfully obtained the ISO 14001 certification for property management for all estates in July 2013.’

Swedish Authorities rely on accredited personnel certification to support the quality of the built environment

The Swedish authority Boverket – the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning use accredited certification bodies according to ISO/IEC 17024 to certify persons that have competence according to:

  • Expert in Energy consumption in buildings according to regulation BFS 2011:9
  • Expert in Quality assurance during construction of buildings according to regulation BFS 2011:14
  • Expert in Ventilation system in buildings according to regulation BFS 2011:16
  • Expert in Fire protection in buildings according to regulation BFS 2011:17
  • Expert on Culture values for buildings according to regulation BFS 2011:16
  • Expert in Accessibility in buildings according to regulation BFS 2011:18

Further information is available from Boverket or from Swedac.

Governments use standards and accreditation in the construction sector

Pressure equipment and cranes must be inspected by an inspection body accredited by an MRA partner to comply with Government policy. (New Zealand)

Civil materials in general have to be tested in IANZ accredited labs as part of contract requirements. (New Zealand)

Click here for further details

The Minister of the Department of Labour (DoL) recognises the use of Risk Based Inspection (RBI) implemented by users of pressure vessels and steam generator in industries. These regulations are enacted through an accreditation programme that recognises that certification bodies will certify risk based inspection management systems. The benefit for industry will be reduced downtime of equipment, and potentially lower insurance premiums. (South Africa)

Click here for further details

Local regulators, the Public Health & Safety Department & Building Department in Dubai require that lifting equipment including cranes and lifts shall be periodically inspected by the accredited inspection/certification bodies. This helps to regulate the sector in better way. (Dubai)

Local government requires that laboratories want to provide testing services in governmental construction projects and conducts environmental testing shall be accredited. (Dubai)

MINVU, the Department of Housing and Urbanism in Chile, requires the use of accredited laboratories to test building products such as asphalt, elements and components, concrete, wood, metals, and the mechanics of soil. (Chile)

Click here for further details

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that all Competent Person Scheme (CPS) operators must be accredited.

The aim is to be able to authorise, on the basis of low incidence of risk to health and safety, CPS whose members are judged sufficiently competent to self-certify that their work has been carried out in compliance with all applicable requirements of the Building Regulations. CPS covers various disciplines ranging from electrical installation to air pressure testing, replacement of windows and the installation of microgeneration equipment. (UK)

Click here for further details

Italy’s Ministry of the Environment uses accredited certification to manage competence of installation and maintenance engineers.

Accredia, in support of the Ministry of the Environment, has set simpler regulations for the use of Fluorinated gases, thereby reducing costs for business and reducing CFC-gas emissions in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. The Regulations (CE) 842:2006 have been simplified for certifying bodies, technical personnel and training organizations who deal with the installation, maintenance and repair of fridges, freezers, air-conditioners, heat pumps, anti-incendiary systems and fire extinguishers. Competent bodies are designated by the Ministry of the Environment which require a certificate of accreditation. (Italy)

Click here for further details (in Italian)

Accredited inspection supports government policy for the environmental sustainability of buildings

An agreement, signed by ACCREDIA and ITACA – the institute for innovation and transparency of tenders and environmental compatibility – promotes the inspection activities provided by accredited bodies in support of regional policies for the environmental sustainability of buildings. The aim is to guarantee the independence, impartiality and competence of conformity assessment against the reference standards. (Italy)

Click here for further details

The New Approach in the European Union

The New Approach was established in the European Union to ‘recast technical harmonisation within the European Union (EU) on a new basis by only harmonising the essential requirements of products and by applying the “general reference to standards” formula and the principle of mutual recognition in order to eliminate technical obstacles to the free movement of goods.’

The New Approach has a number of objectives, all seeking to use standardisation, to achieve aims such as supporting the single European market – especially for products, reducing barriers to trade, increasing product safety, delivering an efficient system based on consensus standards.

Product areas covered by the New Approach vary from toys to pressure equipment, from boilers to boats, from medical devices to explosives. The full range of products can be seen under the New Legislative Framework.

Click here for further details

Global accreditation system core to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement, released on November 5th 2015, between twelve Pacific Rim countries. The agreement’s goal is to promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labour and environmental protections.

Accreditation, recognised by existing regional and international mutual recognition Arrangements (the ILAC MRA and IAF MLA) is referenced as being as a key measure to support trade through the removal of technical barriers.

The twelve Pacific-rim countries include Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam and the USA.

Access the agreement’s table of contents.

Access the chapter that refers to Technical Barriers to Trade.


Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 QMS (UNIDO 2017)

A publication titled “Good practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 quality management systems” has been released by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The report presents the lessons learnt and good practices in applying Market Surveillance methodology to monitor the effectiveness of ISO 9001 certification in manufacturing enterprises and to evaluate the performance of respective accredited certification bodies.

The report concludes that the proper use of ISO 9001–based quality management systems assists developing countries in promoting sustainable trade, thereby helping them achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the 2030 development agenda.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the UNIDO website.

Trade-related International Regulatory Cooperation – A theoretical framework (OECD, 2016)

Reducing unnecessary trade costs is an important aspect of International Regulatory Co-operation (IRC). But trade costs are only one of the many considerations that countries take into account when engaging in bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral efforts to address non-tariff measures that are related to differences in regulations. They are also concerned about pursuing domestic regulatory objectives. This report develops an analytical framework to help understand the trade-offs between trade costs and domestic regulatory objectives that will determine outcomes of IRC. It shows the possible scope and landing zones of IRC initiatives, ranging from simple information exchange to negotiations to harmonize regulations between countries. The analytical approach is based on economic game theory and provides a basis for regulators and trade negotiators to determine which specific IRC approach would be promising to pursue.

The report states that the ILAC and IAF global arrangements provide the platform for trade cost reductions. A full copy of the report is available from the OECD website.

National Quality Infrastructure: Vital Link to Global Trade and Investment Competitiveness (World Bank, 2016)

National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) reforms are an important part of broader efforts aimed at enhancing trade and investment opportunities, opening markets for new innovative products, and improving the business environment. As demand to access new markets and compete with higher quality products rises, the World Bank Group is committed to supporting government’s efforts to build a more harmonized and integrated NQI. This leaflet sets out how the World Bank can support the development of standards, accreditation and metrology systems to boost economic performance and cross-border investment decisions.

A full copy of the leaflet is available here. World Bank NQI Leaflet

World Bank Policy National Quality Infrastructure Brief (World Bank, 2013)

Standards define how products, processes, and people interact with each other and their environments. They enhance competitiveness by offering proof that products and services adhere to requirements of governments or the marketplace. When used effectively, they facilitate international trade and contribute to technology upgrading and absorption. This brief discusses the importance, the central elements, and constraints to success of national quality infrastructure.

A full copy of the policy document is available on the World Bank website.

ISO 9001 – Relevance and impact in Brazil (September 2016)

 The ISO 9001 – Impact and Relevance in Brazil is based on UNIDO Project 140107 “Impact assessment of ISO 9001 Quality Management System Certification in Brazil”, co-funded by Inmetro and UNIDO. The overall objective of the project was to assess the effectiveness of the ISO 9001 certification process in Brazil from the perspective of certified organisations and their customers, as well as by conducting a number of “market surveillance” visits to a sample of certified organisations.

This study provides useful information about the take-up by and benefits for those who have decided to seek an accredited certification of their quality management system based on ISO 9001. The results of this study in Brazil are generally positive. They show that organisations do get value from accredited certification to ISO 9001; that users can rely on accredited certification to ISO 9001 as a reasonable basis for having confidence that the products or services provided by a certified organisation will fulfil their expectations; and that, despite commercial and competitive pressures that can undermine the impartiality and effectiveness of audits and certification, the audits and certifications are, in most instances, effective and valuable.

A full copy of the ISO 9001 – Impact and Relevance in Brazil report can be downloaded from the UNIDO website.

The Value of Accreditation (UK, 2016)

UKAS, the UK accreditation body, carried out a survey to capture feedback on the value of accreditation for conformity assessment bodies that have stable scopes in established technical sectors. The survey aimed to gain insight into the reasons for maintaining accreditation, to identify the positive outcomes that are realised through accreditation, and to investigate the value of selected elements of the accreditation process.

Respondents identified that there are clear external factors for maintaining accreditation:

  • 67% maintain accreditation as it is perceived as the right thing to do
  • 82% maintain accreditation due to customer expectations
  • 46% maintain accreditation due to government expectations or requirements

The survey also identified that these businesses derive both internal and external commercial benefit from their accredited status:

  • 93% of respondents agree that accreditation provides confidence to their customers and stakeholders
  • 76% agree that accreditation differentiates them from their competitors
  • 85% agree that accreditation improves the quality and validity of their work
  • 71% agree that accreditation helps them to win new or maintain existing business

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the UKAS website.

UNIDO report: ISO 9001- Its Relevance and Impact In China

To have an in-depth understanding of the actual impact of ISO 9001 certification on organisations, Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) and UNIDO jointly conducted a survey of the effectiveness of ISO 9001 quality management system certification in China from September 2012 to September 2013. China has overtaken the early implementers of ISO 9001 and now represents approximately 30% of the 1.1 million ISO 9001 certificates issued worldwide. The survey covers the whole of China (except Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau). Over 9000 questionnaires were sent out to ISO 9001-certified organizations and institutional purchasers in China, and 6974 effective completed questionnaires were collected. Physical on-site visits were conducted by trained experts at 958 certified organizations.

According to the survey results:

  • 93% of all the institutional purchasers surveyed expressed that they regarded ISO 9001 certification as an important criterion for evaluation of their suppliers.
  • 75% said their perception of the credibility of ISO 9001 CBs operating in China is “good” or “very good”.
  • Purchasers had a good level of satisfaction with their ISO 9001-certified suppliers.
  • Of the various parameters studied, the highest level of satisfaction is with the product quality of ISO 9001-certified suppliers (98% purchasers stated that they were satisfied, including 7% of all purchasers who were very satisfied).
  • Compared with non-certified suppliers (or comparing the same supplier before and after certification), most purchasers think that the performance of certified suppliers is notably better than that of non-certified suppliers (or the same supplier before certification).

Among all the certified organizations surveyed;

  • 51% said the most important reason for them to implement a QMS was to obtain competitive advantages, for internal improvement or to achieve corporate or top management objectives
  • 43 % said the most important reason was to gain market access or to respond to customer pressure or tender requirements
  • 6% said it was for marketing and/or public relations.
  • 98% of the organizations surveyed said that regardless of the overall cost, the implementation of ISO 9001 had been a good or a very good investment.
  • Most of the certified organizations said they obtained substantial benefits from the implementation of an ISO 9001-based QMS. 9% of the certified organizations estimated that it brought a benefit of up to RMB 100,000, either in cost savings and/or increased profits. 39% believed it to be between RMB 100,000 to 1,000,000. (c.US$ 15,000 – US$ 150,000)
  • 37% estimated that it could bring more than RMB 1,000,000 of benefits (either cost savings or increased profits).

A full copy of the report can be read on the UNIDO website.

Exploring Business Benefits of Internationally Recognized Certifications

The authors base their paper on data from a global company survey of certified companies carried out by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) in 2010/11. They use multivariate Probit and ordered Probit models to analyze how company internal and external factors influence the perception of benefits from accredited certification. Benefits from accredited certification are divided into added value for the organization, increased sales and regulatory compliance. As for company external factors, they find that benefits from certification are higher for companies that went through a challenging certification process, had a competent certification body team, and are aware of the importance of accreditation. Internal factors are related to different motives for seeking certification. They find that the benefits from accredited certification are largest when companies become certified in order to improve their own business performance. Dividing the sample in high-income and middle income countries shows that the latter put more emphasis on company internal improvement through certification and are more likely to benefit from certification when they employ an external consultant. Finally, they can show that benefits are unequally distributed among companies. That is, smaller companies have a lower probability to benefit from certification compared to larger companies.

A copy of the report is available on the ResearchGate website.



Axel Mangelsdorf, Berlin Institute of Technology and Chair of Innovation Economics

Tilman Denkler, BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany

External knowledge sourcing and involvement in standardization-Evidence from the community innovation survey

In this paper, the authors explore the relationship between firms’ external knowledge sourcing and their decision to participate in standardization alliances. Based on micro data they show that the importance of external knowledge is positively correlated with participation in standardization. This suggests that firms aim to access the knowledge of other companies and stakeholders in order to increase their own knowledge base. The analysis also shows that firms cooperating with different actors are more likely to join standardization. Due to the positive relationships with incoming knowledge spillovers and forms of cooperation, they conclude that standardization represents a specific form of collaborative knowledge-sharing and knowledge-creating strategy. In addition, we are able to show that absorptive capacity measured via companies’ research intensity promotes the involvement in standardization.

External knowledge sourcing and involvement in standardization-Evidence from the community innovation survey (PDF Download Available). Available from:


Knut Blind, Berlin Institute of Technology

Henk de Vries, Rotterdam School of Management

Axel Mangelsdorf, BAM Federal Institute of Material Research and Testing, Germany


The National Quality Infrastructure – A tool for competitiveness, trade and well-being (The World Bank, March 2013)

The national quality infrastructure (NQI) is the institutional framework that establishes and implements standardization, including conformity assessment services, metrology, and accreditation. Governments play a crucial role in designing, developing, and implementing an effective NQI. Developing an NQI begins with an assessment of the current system and identification of areas where reforms are required. The legal framework should establish transparent, independent institutions within a national structure that can work with international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). The World Bank and other donor agencies are assisting a number of countries in the development of NQIs in order to encourage industrial development, reduce barriers to trade and entrepreneurship, and facilitate global technical cooperation.

Download the report from the World Bank website.

The Economic Value of Standards in the UK (June 2015)

Research carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business (Cebr) concludes that standards boost UK productivity and improve performance, kick-start innovation, and support UK domestic and international trade.

The report analyses the macroeconomic and microeconomic impact of BSI’s consensus based voluntary standards across the UK economy. It concludes that they are a vital part of the strength of UK industry and play a crucial and often invisible role in supporting economic growth.

The main findings are that:

  • £8.2 billion is the amount that standards contribute to the UK economy
  • 37.4% of UK productivity growth can be attributed to standards
  • 28.4% of annual UK GDP growth can be attributed to standards, equivalent to £8.2 billion
  • £6.1 billion of additional UK exports per year can be attributed to standards

The full report can be downloaded from the BSI website. 

WTO report highlights benefits of conformity assessment tools in addressing ‘Specific Trade Concerns’

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Economic Research and Statistics Division produced the report ‘International Standards and the WTO TBT Agreement: Improving Governance for Regulatory Alignment‘ (Erik Wijkström and Devin McDaniels, WTO, 19 March 2013), with some key points on the value of key conformity assessment tools such as ISO standards and ILAC accreditation.

Of particular interest as regards conformity assessment is 3.1.1, the section on Specific Trade Concerns, ‘One of the core functions of the TBT Committee is acting as a forum to address trade issues – these are referred to as “Specific Trade Concerns” (STCs). These are concerns that one or several Members have with the design or implementation of another Member’s measure. An analysis of the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Committee’s records shows that about one third of all STCs raised in the TBT Committee are associated in one way or another with the subject of international standards. By “associated” we mean that international standards have been mentioned by a delegation in the discussion of a particular trade concern – either by reference to a specific body or organization, or through general reference to the existence (or non-existence) of some source of international guidance.’

‘While over forty different bodies or organizations are mentioned, a number of them recur frequently in discussion. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is mentioned in 30% of STCs associated with international standards; the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) in 10%.’

The report gives a number of examples of the kind of problem, including: ‘Lead in pottery. The European Union objected to a Mexican draft standard for glazed pottery, ceramics and porcelain, which mandated more stringent lead and cadmium limits than those laid down in the relevant international ISO standards (ISO 6486-1/2). Specifically, the European Union was concerned that Mexican authorities would no longer accept test results accompanying EU ceramic tableware conducted in compliance with these ISO standards. Mexico explained that while its draft standard was partially based on ISO standards, it deviated in certain aspects due to a greater level of health protection required by Mexico, and due to the circumstances of Mexico as a developing country.’

The conclusion of this kind of problem is that ‘The vast majority (around 90%) relate to some form of “challenge” on international standards (from one Member to another). The tone of the discussions may range from a polite request for clarification about the use or non-use of international standards in a measure, to a direct accusation that a Member is not following a specific (and in their view relevant) international standard and therefore violating a WTO discipline.’

The use of  international standards and systems in world trade, such as ISO and ILAC which stick to the ‘Six Principles’ of Transparency, Openness, Impartiality and Consensus, Effectiveness and Relevance, Coherence and Development Dimension, would reduce the instances of the STCs.

Click here for further details, including access to the full report


Economic benefits of accreditation valued at more than £600M a year in the UK

The Economics of Accreditation’ commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has assessed the economic benefits derived from the accreditation of certification, measurement and inspection services.  Researchers from Birkbeck, University of London, surveyed a selection of businesses and other independent analysis to create the report.  Its aim was to provide a financial evaluation of accreditation’s contribution to the UK economy, which it valued at more than £600 million per annum.

A central element of the analysis is the multiplier effect of accreditation, indicating that UKAS and the other institutions in the quality infrastructure jointly amplify each other’s effects, so leading to an impact greater than the sum of the parts. This set of interdependencies and cross-amplifying effects combine to create a significant financial advantage for those using accreditation to distinguish their products and services.

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The economic value of standards

Standards are a vital component in the conformity assessment arsenal to address public policy issues. International standards developed by consensus used in conformity assessment are in two key categories:

  1. The standards on which assessment is based, whether for products & services or process (management system standards)
  2. The standards which guide many of the key processes, such as certification, accreditation, inspection, etc. More of details of these standards, referred to as the ISO CASCO Toolkit can be found here.

A number of major research reports have been produced in a number of economies which help quantify and explain the contribution standards makes to these economies. These reports are:

World Bank report: ‘Unlocking Central America’s Export Potential’

The Central America region is a small market. The region contains around 43 million inhabitants (0.6 percent of total world population) who generate around 0.25 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the region has successfully embarked on a regional integration agenda and has strong commercial links with the US, extra-regional trade-mainly with large fast-growing emerging economies-remains a challenge. Export performance is analyzed along three dimensions that, together, give a fairly comprehensive picture of competitiveness:

1) the composition, orientation and growth of the export basket;

2) the degree of export diversification across products and markets; and

3) the level of sophistication and quality of their main exports.

This analysis allows exports dynamics at the different margins of trade (intensive, extensive, and quality) to be evaluated and individual countries’ to be benchmarked with peers in the Central American region. The results of this report allow policy makers to identify key areas to explore in the overall discussion of export competitiveness in the Central American region. This paper relates to the literature on challenges and opportunities that trade liberalization can bring to the Central American region. Much of the recent literature focuses on the role of the free trade agreement negotiated by Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with the US.

Given the importance quality infrastructure plays in advancing the trade agenda, greater priority should be given to developing accreditation, standards, and metrology and obtaining international recognition to unlock their export potential.

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How do we look for the best quality?

The Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) has produced a video to increase public awareness on and demonstrate the benefits of accreditation. It aims to further encourage wider acceptance and use of accreditation and  build trust in conformity assessment — a tool that helps businesses not only to comply efficiently and effectively with regulations and standards around the globe but also to gain competitive advantage and to expand into new and wider  markets.

This short presentation best responds to the question “How do we look for the best quality?” This is a tough question to answer with the vast number of products and services in the market. The video shows how accreditation can help consumers in whittling down their choices to safe, reliable and quality products and services which pass through accredited conformity assessments.

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A step by step guide to gaining accreditation

AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, the US accreditation body, has produced a shot video to guide applicants through the accreditation process. View the video on Youtube.




ISO/CASCO has published a new brochure describing how “ISO Technical Committees (ISO/TCs) are often required to choose between developing requirements for a management system for an organisation’s activities, or developing requirements for the competence of an organisation to carry out its activities”.

Not only does this document assist ISO/TCs in understanding the difference between the two standards, but it is also helpful for organisations in the process of deciding whether to implement a management system or a competency based system. In addition, the brochure indicates the benefits and values of meeting either set of requirements.

The ISO/CASCO document – Frequency Asked Questions: Competency or Management System Based Standards?” is available here.

ISO Guidance for SMEs using ISO 9001 for quality management

ISO has published a guide for SME’s wishing to implement a quality management system (QMS), providing practical advice and concrete examples tailored specifically for small businesses. A copy of the guidance is available from the ISO website.



The benefits of a Quality Infrastructure (UNIDO, 2016)

UNIDO has published a briefing note to set out how setting up a Quality Infrastructure System can be one of the most positive and practical steps that a developing nation can take on the path forward to developing a thriving economy as a basis for prosperity, health and well-being. A Quality Infrastructure is a system contributing to governmental policy objectives in areas including industrial development, trade competitiveness in global markets, efficient use of natural and human resources, food safety, health, the environment and climate change.


Download a copy of the briefing note from the UNIDO website.

Accreditation supports UNIDO’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

UNIDO has published a new brochure which highlights the contribution of accredited conformity assessment services to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNIDO’s vision to address today’s economic, social and environmental challenges is enshrined in the Lima Declaration, adopted by UNIDO Member States in December 2013.  On this basis, UNIDO pursues “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development” to harness industry’s full potential to contribute to lasting prosperity for all.

17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 associated targets constitute the core of the UNIDO 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  These provide a new development framework that seeks to transform the world and guide all global, regional and national development endeavours for the next 15 years. UNIDO’s programmatic approach is guided by three interrelated thematic priorities: creating shared prosperity, advancing economic competitiveness, and safeguarding the environment.

Maintaining strategic partnerships and technical cooperations, together with the use of standards and compliance related activities, also form an important part of UNIDO’s approach. The relationship between UNIDO, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and ILAC is one such partnership.  This strategic partnership in the field of accreditation enables UNIDO, IAF and ILAC to coordinate activities in complementary and mutually supportive areas of operation, in order to enhance the impact of industrial development on economic growth.

A copy of the brochure is available on the UNIDO website.

New guide on how accreditation in developing economies can facilitate trade and support sustainable development

The significance of an accreditation system for trade and the economy, as well as practical advice for the establishment of accreditation bodies, are the focus of a newly released publication titled, “Establishing accreditation in developing economies – A guide to opening the door for global trade”.

Prepared by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in cooperation with the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), the publication was launched at the ILAC – IAF joint General Assembly. The guide aims to support the common goal of “tested, inspected or certified once and accepted everywhere”.

It is comprised of two parts. The first part focuses on the need for accreditation and the benefits that an accreditation system can bring to good governance. It provides policymakers with a framework for establishing an accreditation body or partnering with neighbouring economies to form a shared system, which can bring an economy closer to its trading partners through mutually recognized arrangements of accreditation.

The second part offers comprehensive practical advice and building blocks to those who are tasked with establishing an accreditation body. It presents information on the essential operational requirements for accreditation bodies, and outlines available resources, as well as potential challenges. Case studies then follow to offer an illustration of practical applications of the guidance provided in the publication.

A copy of the brochure is available on the UNIDO website.

Accreditation – an overview

With examples from everyday life, this video, produced by COFRAC in France, highlights the fact that accreditation impacts, even if we are not always aware of it, numerous activities benefiting from conformity assessment services.

ISO 9001 – what does it mean in the Supply Chain (ISO, 2016)

As someone who is involved in the selection of suppliers and, possibly, responsible for making purchasing decisions, you may have seen or used products and services that are promoted using reference to ISO 9001:2015. This informative text provides some answers to these questions and will inform you about how you can get the most out of using ISO 9001 as a supply chain tool.

A full copy of the brochure is available from the ISO website.

Quality assurance is like an onion – multi-layered

Quality assurance is like an onion – multi-layered. This video, produced by ANSI in the US, shows how accreditation can provide the protective outer skin.

Accreditation: A tool to support Regulators

A booklet created by European Accreditation sets out how the ISO CASCO toolbox can support the work of Regulators.

View the booklet on the EA website.

UNIDO – Trade Facilitation – smoothing the path to global markets

UNIDO’s Trade Capacity Building Branch has published a briefing paper to set out how it can support Developing Economies develop the effective building blocks of using accredited testing, inspection and certification, using hamonized standards, in order to boost trade.

Download a copy of the briefing from the UNIDO website.


Standards, metrology and accreditation support Developing Countries

A short video to show how standards, metrology and accreditation can help sustainable development in Developing economies.

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How does Accredited Certification benefit Regulators

Regulators are increasingly relying on independent third party declarations of compliance to support their enforcement and monitoring activities.

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Accreditation: Delivering Confidence in Everyday life

Accredited testing, inspection and certification impacts on all industry sectors. This short video shows how accreditation underpins consumer safety and well-being in everyday life.

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Accreditation: Facilitating global trade

The ILAC MRA and the IAF MLA remove the need for products and services to undergo additional tests, inspections and certification in each country where they are sold. These Arrangements remove technical barriers and therefore support cross-border trade.

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Specifying accreditation in regulation

This factsheet sets out how to specify accredited services for external certification bodies (management systems, products or persons), covered by the IAF MLA.

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The IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA)

The IAF MLA ensures the mutual recognition of accredited certification between signatories to the IAF MLA, and subsequently acceptance of accredited certification in many markets based on one accreditation.

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Specifying accreditation in Regulation – the ILAC MRA

This factsheet sets out how to specify accredited services for external laboratories (testing, medical, and calibration) and inspection bodies, covered by the ILAC MRA.

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The ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA)

The ILAC MRA supports international trade by promoting international confidence and acceptance of accredited laboratory data and inspection body data. Technical barriers to trade, such as the retesting of products, each time they enter a new economy would be reduced.

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How does accredited inspection benefit government and regulators?

This briefing document sets out how accredited inspection can support Government and Regulatory policy.

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How does using an Accredited Laboratory benefit Government and Regulators?

This briefing document sets out how accredited laboratories can support Government and Regulatory policy.

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Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards for technical regulations

This document, developed by the ISO and the IEC, conveys to regulators the benefits of choosing to use and reference ISO and IEC standards for regulations and to demonstrate that doing so can support good regulatory practice.

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The ISO 9001 family – Global management standards

This video from ISO (the International Organization for Standardization), explores the worldwide impact on business of the ISO 9000 family of international management standards.

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Public sector solutions

SGS has created a portfolio of solutions to support compliance with regulatory requirements, enhance government revenue, facilitate trade, support efficiency and promote good governance along with sustainable development.

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A guide for engaging with Government and Regulators

Supporting the needs of Government is a core objective of ILAC and IAF members.

This document sets out ways to assist members to develop and maintain relationships with government at all levels.

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A briefing for European Commission officials

This document, developed by EA in Europe, conveys to European policy makers the benefits of choosing to use and reference standards and accreditation for regulations and to demonstrate that doing so can support good regulatory practice.

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