ISO 17020 vs ISO 17025: What’s the difference?

ISO 17020 Accreditation
Accreditation / Laboratory Accreditation

ISO 17020 vs ISO 17025: What’s the difference?

ISO 17020 and ISO 17025 are two separate but related standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). While both are designed to ensure the competence of testing and calibration bodies, they have distinct purposes and are used in different contexts.

ISO 17020 is a standard that specifies the criteria for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection. These bodies might include organizations that carry out evaluations of materials, products, installations, plants, processes, work procedures, or services against published standards, or non-standard methods. The ISO 17020 standard addresses factors such as impartiality, consistency, and the technical competence of these bodies.

On the other hand, ISO 17025 is a standard used by laboratories to demonstrate that they operate a quality system, are technically competent, and are capable of producing technically valid results. ISO 17025 applies to all organizations performing laboratory activities, regardless of the number of personnel or the extent of the scope of testing activities.

The key difference between ISO 17020 and ISO 17025 lies in their scope of application. ISO 17020 is applicable to inspection bodies, which may examine the design, manufacturing process, production, services, or installation of a product or system. It is more oriented toward verification of conformity and compliance with standards and specifications.

ISO 17025, however, is applicable to testing and calibration laboratories. This standard is more concerned with activities that produce test data, like chemical analysis, physical property testing, or calibration of measurement devices.

In some cases, organizations may require both accreditations, as their operations may cover both inspection and testing activities.

So, in summary, while both ISO 17020 and ISO 17025 are designed to ensure competence and reliability, they apply to different types of bodies and activities: ISO 17020 to inspection bodies, and ISO 17025 to testing and calibration laboratories. Both of these standards are key to ensuring quality and reliability in industries where testing, calibration, and inspection are vital.

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