The ISO 17021 Standard: Recognize the Organizational Structure and Key Requirements

The ISO 17021 Standard: Recognize the Organizational Structure and Key Requirements

The ISO 17021 Standard: Recognize the Organizational Structure and Key Requirements.

ISO/IEC 17021:2015 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies offering audit and certification of management systems is a standard for evaluating certification bodies. The International Standard enables Certification Bodies to perform conformity evaluations for the acceptance of their certifications on a national and international scale. The standard makes it easy to recognize management system certification in the interests of international trade. The certifying body should have a clear organizational structure outlining the duties, responsibilities, and decision-making authority of each participant. This configuration is essential for handling any potential conflicts of interest and upholding the operations’ uniformity and fairness.

  • Committee for Maintaining Fairness: Many certification bodies are required to set up a committee that upholds impartiality. This group assists in ensuring that all activities are carried out impartially.
  • Staying Independent: The certifying body must function independently, without interference from outside groups or special interests that might affect its objectivity. To handle conflicts of interest and protect against outside pressure, rules must be in place.
  • Objective Decision-Making: It is necessary to have an objective stance in all certification-related operations. Any factors that could compromise objectivity should not have any influence on the decisions taken throughout the certification process.
  • Subcontracting Work: The certifying authority shall guarantee that the subcontractor adheres to the pertinent ISO/IEC 17021-1 requirements if any audit or certification responsibilities are outsourced. By doing this, the integrity of the certification is maintained even when certain steps are carried out by other parties.
  • Staff Requirements: The qualifications of everyone engaged, including the auditors and any technical professionals who take part in the audit and certification steps, are the focus of this section.
  • Skills and Qualifications: The certifying organization is responsible for making sure that everyone taking part in the certification process has the needed ISO 17021 auditor training and credentials. To do this, requirements for their training, education, technical prowess, and work experience must be established.
  • Employing Outside Experts: To guarantee that the quality and completeness of the certification process remain consistent, regardless of who is performing the responsibilities, external auditors or specialists should meet the same qualification requirements as internal workers.
  • Personnel Records: It is necessary to maintain records that show all employees are competent. This offers responsibility and traceability for the participants’ credentials.
  • Monitoring of Performance: To ensure competency, auditors and other staff members must be watched. Peer review, ongoing training, and other performance evaluation tools can be used.

General Requirements: These include the certification body’s contractual and legal obligations, which ensure its expertise and capacity for objectivity.

  • Legal and Contractual Matters: The organisation in charge of the certifying body’s operations must be acknowledged by the law. With the certifying authority, formal agreements must be in place outlining each party’s obligations, including clients.
  • Liability and Financing: The ability to operate and the willingness to accept responsibilities and flaws are requirements for certification bodies. This ensures that the certifying body has the tools and insurance protection necessary to successfully carry out certification activities.
  • Non-Discriminatory Conditions: The certifying authority must provide its services to all applicants without bias and impartiality. Regardless of the size or affiliations of the organization seeking certification, access to certification must be equitable and open.
  • Confidentiality and Publicly Accessible Information: The organization must have policies in place to safeguard information privacy and guarantee that certain information about certification is accessible to the general public. Confidentiality and openness must coexist peacefully to maintain trust.
  • Structural Requirements: This is related to how the certifying body is organized, specifically how it is set up to preserve impartiality. Avoiding conflicts of interest and making sure that practices like consultation do not compromise the impartiality of the certification process are necessary to achieve this.

Information Requirements: This section of the standard contains information about the requirements for management system that should be define in ISO 17021 documentation, as well as records of complaints and appeals and information that must be made publicly available.

  • Management of Information: All data about certification activities must be managed and kept up to date by the certifying authority. This addresses both the processing of private information and the handling of material intended for public consumption.
  • Certification Documents: Documents from the certification organization must accurately reflect the certification’s scope and specifics. For the certification to be useful to the entity receiving it and to be transparent, this is essential.
  • Directory of Certified Organizations: It could be necessary to keep a list of certified organizations that are available to the public. The status of certifications can now be checked by interested parties, increasing openness.
  • Control of Records: Records about certification activities must be regulated and stored securely. This includes audit reports, certification documents, and related information, all of which must be kept on file and available in case of future inquiries, grievances, or appeals.
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