Monday, May 9th 2022: The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), which is part of the Health and Safety Authority, will officially publish Ireland’s first ever Accreditation Strategy today.
The Strategy sets out a vision and an ambitious roadmap for accreditation from 2022 to 2026.
Accreditation is now mandatory for many Irish businesses because of changes in EU regulations and Brexit. INAB has seen a significant increase in the number of organisations in Ireland seeking accreditation during the past five years, rising from 203 organisations in 2016 to over 235 organisations in 2021. INAB also witnessed a rise in the numbers seeking accreditation last year, as many laboratories sought accreditation for Covid-19 testing / PCR testing.
As part of this Strategy, INAB wants to grow the number of accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies in Ireland to meet demand and support Irish industry
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD said: “The development of the first ever Strategy for Accreditation is an important and welcome milestone. The key benefits of accreditation are felt by the government, the consumer, and industry.
It assists the government in seeking competent and professional bodies to pursue our policy and regulatory goals. It gives the consumer confidence in the quality of the products and services they purchase. It increases efficiency, innovation, and safety within industry. Accreditation also plays an essential role in augmenting access to European and international markets, offering a competitive advantage for Irish products and services,” he added.
The Strategy for Accreditation will be delivered through specific and detailed actions across four key pillars:
“There has been a significant increase in recent years in the number of EU regulations which now specify the need for accreditation,” said Dr Adrienne Duff, Manager of the Irish National Accreditation Board.
“In the past, accreditation was mostly voluntary for businesses. Now, accreditation is mandated in many pieces of EU regulations, as policy makers recognise the importance of ensuring only the highest quality goods and services are sold on the EU Single Market. There are currently over 100 pieces of EU legislation going through the system which all make accreditation mandatory for a wide variety of businesses and industries. Accreditation has also become part of many EU Trade Deals, for example the EU-Canadian (CETA) trade deal,” she added.
Tens of thousands of products and services are bought and sold every day. It is vital that the public and businesses purchasing these products and services have confidence in them and trust that they are produced to the highest international standards.
For example, when manufacturing a product, a business will hire Conformity Assessment Bodies to test, inspect, calibrate, verify and certify the product to ensure it meets the specified requirements set out in legislation or standards.
But who is checking to ensure these Conformity Assessment Bodies are doing their job correctly? Accreditation is the process used to demonstrate the competence of testing, inspection, and certification services across a broad range of activities in healthcare, food and water quality, product safety and information security management.
Accreditation is awarded to recognised standards by a national accreditation body. In Ireland, this is the function of INAB. INAB is the highest authority in Ireland and the sole body responsible for accreditation, offering the highest level of quality control to businesses, and ultimately consumers. INAB assesses organisations who test products and services sold every day in Ireland and abroad. It provides accreditation to laboratories, certification and inspection bodies.
Receiving accreditation enables the acceptance of products and services globally, as they are ‘tested or certified once, accepted everywhere’. The ability to move products and services into different markets without secondary testing or verification contributes to the efficiency of international trading for customers and suppliers.