ADELOLA AMIHERE, writes that this year’s world Accreditation Day, centres on how to ensure safety of work places, products and services.
The world Accreditation Day celebration which takes place on the 9th of June every year is a global initiative jointly established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation.
The theme for this year’s celebration focused on how accreditation delivers a safer world. The expectation of safe work places, safe products, safe transport, safe food, in all aspects of our lives is universally shared.
However, statistics show that the expectation is not being matched by the reality.
So, closing this gap becomes a vital consideration for governments, regulators and businesses, aiming to keep people safer in their work, domestic life, journeys and all other parts of their lives.
Accreditation is the independent evaluation of conformity to these assessment bodies against recognized standards to carry out specific activities to ensure their integrity, impartiality competence.
Through the application of national and international standards, governments, businesses and wider society can, therefore, have confidence in the calibration and best results, inspection reports and certifications provided; delivering both increased confidence and safer practices.
Examples of the use of these tools include life guards having accredited certification in Dubai , asbestos testing at accredited laboratories in the UK and certification for adventure tourism activities in New Zealand .
Another example of how accreditation delivers a safer world is through the Dutch criminal justice system where DNA evidence will only be admissible if the DNA testing has been conducted in a laboratory that is accredited by an International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) signatory ensures that the judicial system is upheld and trial citizens are consistently protected.
The celebration is an annual event organized by ILAC, and IAF. The Nigeria National Accreditation Service (NNAS), is an affiliate member of ILAC, and only recently attained full membership of African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC).
Speaking during a press conference held at the NNAS new office facility in Abuja which was also formally commissioned in other to raise awareness on the value accreditation plays in ensuring a safer world, the Chairman NNAS board, Dr. Dashiru Adamu, said accreditation was very important for quality assurance of products and services in Nigeria.
He lamented that the government of Nigeria hadn’t done enough in the area of the rejection of some Nigeria products by the European Union, due to non-conformity to standard practices.
Dr. Adamu opined that Nigerians must begin to take interest in what they consume whether products or services, saying the only way to ensure that systems are put in place is to conform to the minimum standards of safety.
On his part, the UNIDO Representative to ECOWAS and Regional Director, Nigeria Regional office Hub, Jean Bakole, said it was important that consumers should have confidence in safety, security, and authenticity of food and water they consume.
“This confidence is gained through application of common food safety management systems, supported by credible testing and inspection regimes.
“Many organizations in Nigeria check compliance with food and water safety and cleanliness standards through testing, calibration, inspection services, and certification services.
“Accreditation Service from NNAS is the complementary tool that assures that these organizations are credible and reliable.
”NNAS Accreditation service assesses the competence of bodies to determine compliance with standards. It also helps to promote best industry practices, compliments government agencies to individually monitor conformity assessment organizations, and strengthen consumer confidence in products and services, he said.
NNAS accreditation service provides excellent opportunity to promote accreditation to businesses, government and regulators, in several ways to help deliver a safer world.
Bakole, therefore, insisted that if a laboratory is not accredited, one should not accept the test results.
The EU representative, Cannata Nadia Cannata, also affirmed that indeed, “more has to be done to protect the consumer who is often at the tail end of receiving products and services.”
Citing an example of how other climes use accreditation to ensure standards she said: “The Italian National Institute for Insurance Against Accidents at work, has seen that organizations that hold accredited certification to the health and safety management systems standard have reduced workplace accidents.
“As a result, the Institute/INAIL has decided to offer a discount of 28% on the cost of insurance premiums for businesses with the specific standard accredited certification.
“This is only one example; many are reported in this year‘s brochure, and I hope that in the coming years more case studies will come from Nigeria.
“These examples help to realize that quality is an opportunity, not a burden and when applied it can bring considerable benefits to the private sector operators, the workforce and the consumers.”
In his goodwill message, Ntia Thompson, who represented the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning, at the occasion, said the steering committee of the National Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Platforms, (NACAP), was incorporated in the ministry to establish and review government support for the accreditation bodies.
Ntia assured that the federal government welcomes the initiative as it conforms with the objectives of the national Growth and Economic Recovery Plan (GERP), saying it contributes to the growth of the economy.