The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators.
UKAS is a non-profit-distributing company, limited by guarantee, appointed as the national accreditation body by statutory instrument (No 3155/2009) and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government through the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Usually the reason for getting something independently evaluated is to confirm it meets specific requirements in order to reduce risks.
Obvious examples are product failure, health risks, company reputation or to meet legal or customer requirements. Anything or anyone can be evaluated – products, equipment, people, management systems or organisations.
Accreditation by UKAS means that evaluators i.e. testing and calibration laboratories, certification and inspection bodies have been assessed against internationally recognised standards to demonstrate their competence, impartiality and performance capability.
Accreditation is used worldwide. In most developed economies there is a body similar to the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. UKAS is this country’s signatory to European and international accreditation agreements to facilitate the breaking down of technical barriers to trade.
It is important for goods and services tested in the UK to be accepted in Europe and worldwide without the need for additional testing. Increasingly, accreditation is the means of achieving this. UKAS is recognised internationally through European and world multilateral recognition agreements.
This recognition enables government to use accredited bodies to meet obligations under world trading agreements e.g. compliance with EU Directives and the WTO TBT (World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement.
UKAS represents the United Kingdom on three European and international bodies – the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA), the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
Companies big and small buy independent evaluations either through choice (to reduce the risk of product failure for example) or as a consequence of legal requirements (such as health and safety regulations). Most commonly these evaluations are calibration of equipment, product testing, inspection of equipment and certification of quality management systems.