To mark World Accreditation Day, which took place on 9 June this year, LRQA’s Director of Service Innovation & Governance, Denis Ives attended the Dutch Accreditation Council (RvA) Conference in The Hague as a representative of LRQA and the Independent International Organisation for Certification (IIOC).
Accreditation is the independent evaluation of certification bodies against the standard ISO/IEC 17021 to ensure their impartiality, competence and consistency. The standard sets out the principles and requirements for the competence, consistency and impartiality of bodies providing audit and certification of management systems services.
During the conference, Denis took to the stage and discussed the value of Health & Safety and Environmental certification to support public policy deployment. Following the conference, we asked Denis about his experience and the key takeaways from the event.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about the RvA conference; who attended and what was the key objective?
Denis: In addition to representation from providers of assurance services, there were industry regulators and representatives from organisations who hold their own certification against a range of international standards. Everyone had gathered to learn from the collective knowledge at the conference.
The main objective for the day, aside for raising awareness about the value that accreditation brings, was to discuss the role of accreditation as a global tool to support public policy.
Q: You were representing both LRQA and the IIOC at the conference, what did that role entail?
Denis: I am a board member for the IIOC which represents the ten leading certification bodies globally. The aims of the IIOC are to promote the benefits of accredited certification so I was talking on behalf of the other major certifiers. Ultimately, as a certification body accredited by 50+ accreditation bodies globally, my roles for LRQA and for the IIOC worked in harmony together.
Q: So moving onto your session at the conference, what were the key takeaways?
Denis: During my session, I shared the stage with two other speakers; one had been studying the links between different management system standards and the other represented an industry regulator. There were a lot of common themes in our presentations as our organisational roles all cross at different stages of the certification and accreditation process.
For me, I think the key takeaway was the progress that has been made towards working together and sharing information to provide added value; in terms of improving system performance for our clients. There was also an acknowledgement that there is still work to be done but the foundation has been set.
Q: Did the audience have any burning questions over the course of the conference?
Denis: One of the burning topics that came up during the conference was the topic of independence, impartiality and credibility, particularly in relation to clients. For me, it’s important for organisations to remember to look for accreditation as a baseline. That way you have confidence that at least there is somebody looking at that certification body to make sure they are acting impartiality, they’re using competent personnel and they’re working to an international standard.
Q: Thinking more about the purpose of World Accreditation Day, do you think events like the RvA conference are helping to change perceptions of accreditation?
Denis: The difference between accreditation and certification are often misunderstood; LRQA issues certification but is accredited to do so. I think the more publicity received the better. By helping users of certification and the regulators to understand the difference, we’ll be able to get even more value out of events and days like this.
Q: Do you have any other advice for organisations when choosing a certification provider?
Denis: Yes, looking past accreditation, organisations should be looking at value i.e. what they will get out of it? I would recommend looking for a certification provider who can provide technical support and expertise that pushes your management system(s) and makes them work for your organisation. Like I said, you need to look for value and getting the maximum return on investment.
Missed the conference? Download Denis’ full presentation and find out more about the sessions on the RvA Conference website.
About Denis Ives
Denis Ives is Director of Service Innovation and Governance for LRQA, one of the leading global certification bodies providing business assurance services across a wide range of areas including Quality, Environment and Health and Safety. Denis is responsible for leading LRQA’s technical and capability development with over 30 years’ experience working with the application of management system across a broad range of industry sectors.
About World Accreditation Day
World Accreditation Day is a global initiative to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation. It was jointly established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). A website - www.publicsectorassurance.org - has been set up to share case studies that show how accreditation has been used to support public policy initiatives.