Updated Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020 released

06 May 2021

NATA is pleased to announce the 2021 edition of the Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020.  This edition references the recently released ILAC P15:05:2020 - Application of ISO/IEC 17020:2012 for the Accreditation of Inspection Bodies.  Accredited inspection bodies will need to hold and implement copies of both documents. 

The new ILAC document is available here: https://ilac.org/?ddownload=123115

The new Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020 is available from the NATA website under “Accreditation Information”:

ISO/IEC 17020 Standard Application Document - Effective June 2021

Inspection - Monitoring Inspectors and Assuring the Quality of Inspections - Effective June 2021

Background

ILAC P15:05:2020 - Application of ISO/IEC 17020:2012 for the Accreditation of Inspection Bodies was released in May 2020, and replaces and upgrades the previous (2016) edition.  This is a ILAC P-Series document, which are mandated policy documents that ensure consistency of interpretation and practice between the various international accreditation bodies.  For continued access to the ILAC MRA for Inspection accreditation, NATA is required by ILAC to implement the document within 18 months of publication. 

Changes

NATA participated closely in both the drafting and the oversight of the development and release of this edition of the P15 document and the changes between the 2016 and 2020 editions of the ILAC P15 document are limited.  The changes made should have minimal effect upon existing Australian accreditations.  A list of the “Mandatory” interpretations identifying the recent key changes in red is included at the bottom of this announcement.  A powerpoint presentation summarizing the information on the drafting project and detailing the changes is available here: https://ilac.org/publications-and-resources/ilac-policy-series/ under the entry for P15.   

In response to the new edition of ILAC P15, the NATA Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020 has been revised.  Because the implementation of P15 is binding upon NATA, the usual processes of change consultation have been waived during the revision of the NATA Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020. 

Previous editions of the NATA Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020 selected relevant text from the then-current ILAC P15 document, and discarded materials that were not relevant to the Australian context.  This had the added benefit for Australian entities of limiting the referenced documents to the accreditation standard (AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17020 Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection) and the NATA Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020. 

In this revision of the NATA Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020, the referencing to ILAC P15 has been clarified and the decision has been made to explicitly use the ILAC document and remove from the NATA SAD those materials that were drawn from P15.  This significantly reduces the volume of the NATA publication, but at the expense of introducing a third referenced document.  To see what changes have been made in this edition of the NATA Standard Application Document for ISO/IEC 17020, please refer to the amendment table located at the end of the document.

Referencing changes have also been made in the related procedural documents including the ISO17020 Review Checklist. 

Implementation date and other changes

Accredited facilities are required to acquire copies of both documents and reference and implement these as appropriate for their operations. 

Assessors are asked to acquire a copy of both documents and include these in the Assessor Resource Kit.

Both the documents and assessments using these documents will be effective from 1 June 2021.

Should you have any questions on this material, or indeed on any other inspection-related matter, please contact the Sector Manager, Inspection at NATA by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mandated interpretations and key changes in ILAC P15:2020

No.

P15 Wording

5.2.2 n1

The size, structure, composition and management of an inspection body, taken together, shall be suitable for the competent performance of the activities within the scope for which the inspection body is accredited. 

5.2.2 n2

“To maintain the capability to perform the inspection activities” implies that the inspection body shall take steps to keep it appropriately informed about applicable technical and/or legislative developments concerning its activities. 

5.2.2 n3

Inspection bodies shall maintain their capability and competence to carry out inspection activities performed infrequently (normally with intervals longer than one year). 

5.2.3 n1

The inspection body shall maintain an up-to-date organisational chart or documents clearly indicating the functions and lines of authority for staff within the inspection body. 

5.2.5 n1

In order to be considered as “available”, the person shall be either employed or otherwise contracted. 

5.2.5 n2

In order to ensure that the inspection activities are carried out in accordance with ISO/IEC 17020, the technical manager(s) and any deputy(ies), shall have the technical competence necessary to understand all significant issues and technologies involved in the performance of inspection activities. 

5.2.7 n2

The job description or other documentation shall detail the duties, responsibilities and authorities for each position category referred to in 5.2.7n1

6.1.1 n1

Where appropriate, inspection bodies shall define and document competence requirements for each inspection activity, as described in 5.1.3a. 

6.1.1 n4

When professional judgment is needed to determine conformity, this shall be considered when defining competence requirements. 

6.2.3 n1

If controlled environmental conditions are needed, e.g. for the correct performance of the inspection, the inspection body shall monitor these and record the results.

6.2.3 n1

If conditions were outside acceptable limits for the inspection to be performed, the inspection body shall record what action was taken.  See also clause 8.7. 

6.2.6 n1

The justification for not calibrating equipment that has a significant influence on the outcome of inspection (see clause 6.2.4) shall be recorded. 

6.2.6 n3

When appropriate (normally for the equipment covered by clause 6.2.6) the definition shall include the required accuracy and measurement range. 

6.2.9 n1

Where equipment is subjected to in-service checks between regular re-calibrations, the nature of such checks, the frequency and acceptance criteria shall be defined

6.3.4

If the evaluation of the competence of the subcontractor is based partly or in full on its accreditation, the inspection body shall ensure that the scope of the subcontractor’s accreditation covers the activities to be sub-contracted. 

7.1.5 n2

In situations where verbal work orders are acceptable, the inspection body shall keep a record of all requests and instructions received verbally. 

8.2.1 n1

The policies and objectives shall address the competence, impartiality and consistent operation of the inspection body.

8.4.1 n1

This requirement means that all records needed to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the standard shall be established and retained

8.6.4 n1

The inspection body shall ensure that all requirements of ISO 17020 are covered by the internal audit program within the accreditation re-assessment cycle.  The requirements to be covered shall be considered for all fields of inspection and for all premises where inspection activities are managed or performed. 

8.6.4 n1

The inspection body shall justify the choice of audit frequency for different types of requirements, fields of inspection and premises as part of audit planning performed.