NATA accreditation provides a means of determining, formally recognising and promoting the competence of facilities to perform specific types of testing, inspection, calibration, and other related activities.
Accreditation is distinct from certification, which focuses on an organisation's overall compliance with systems and products standards rather than technical competence.
Facilities accredited by NATA become members of the Association and are entitled to further benefits such as access to on-line resources, discounts on various training courses and access to NATA Endorsement Materials.
NATA's accreditation is based on a peer-review process made possible by some 3000 volunteer experts who assist with the assessment of facilities and sit on NATA's various technical committees. To maintain accreditation, facilities must be re-assessed regularly.
The criteria for determining a facility's competence are based on the relevant international standard (eg ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 15189, ISO/IEC 17020) and include: the qualifications, training and experience of staff; correct equipment that is properly calibrated and maintained; adequate quality assurance procedures; appropriate sampling practices, and so on.
Facilities can be private or government owned, and can range in size from one-person operations through to large multi-disciplinary organisations. Field operations and temporary laboratories are also catered for.
NATA currently operates a range of accreditation programs, and can tailor its service to meet the needs of particular organisations.
A Benchmark for Performance
NATA accreditation benefits facilities by allowing them to determine whether they are performing their work correctly and to appropriate standards, and provides them with a benchmark for maintaining that competence. Many facilities operate in isolation to their peers, and otherwise would rarely, if ever, receive any independent technical evaluation as a measure of their performance. A regular NATA assessment checks all aspects of a facility's operations related to consistently producing accurate and dependable data. Areas for improvement are identified and discussed, and a detailed report provided at the end of each visit. Where necessary, follow-up action is reviewed by NATA so the facility can be confident that it has taken the appropriate corrective action.In addition to commercial services, many manufacturing organisations use NATA accreditation to ensure the testing of their products by their own in-house laboratories is being performed correctly.
A Marketing Advantage
NATA accreditation can be a passport to submit tenders to contractors that require independently verified facilities, especially for government contracts.
Many industries, such as the construction materials industry, routinely specify NATA accreditation for suppliers of testing services. In the medical area, accreditation is required by the Commonwealth Government for all pathology facilities wishing to claim Medicare benefits for eligible testing. Other industrial contractors that want to minimise their risks also specify testing to be performed by NATA-accredited laboratories.
NATA-accredited facilities are able to advertise their accreditation on reports and in general advertising, especially through the use of the well-known NATA logo. Since NATA accreditation is highly regarded both nationally and internationally as a reliable indicator of technical competence, use of the NATA logo and use of a NATA endorsement on reports tells prospective and current clients that the facility has been assessed against best international practice.
NATA provides an online directory of its accredited facilities, which is updated on a daily basis and includes the facilities' contact details and information the scope of their accreditation. Prospective clients often contact NATA to find out whether there are any accredited facilitiesthat perform the tests, inspections, calibrations or related services they require.