Overview of discussions at the EAIC meeting in March 2017

International activities

The 33rd meeting of the EA Inspection Committee (EA IC) was hosted by TURKAK on 14 March 2017 in Antalya, Turkey.

The EAIC Chair, Rolf Straub from SAS, the Swiss national accreditation body (NAB), led many buoyant discussions, which started when the outcome of workshop held in September 2016 on ISO/IEC 17020: 2012 and ILAC P15: 2014 was considered, especially regarding independence and impartiality issues.

Different national views were acknowledged about identification of Type A, B, C inspection bodies (IBs) and the way in which they are allowed to act on the market. Allowed third-party activities and presentation of accreditation scopes are different. The most important is actually the rationale behind accreditation. These national particularities influence very much the way NABs accredit. This lack of harmonisation can explain why it is rather impossible to compare and find similarities among national accreditation scopes.

A brief overview was also given of the outcome of the recent ILAC survey on independence & impartiality. On average, 70% of accredited IBs are of Type A; 26% are Type C and 4% are Type B. Particular cases emerge, like in Sweden where 99% of accredited IBs are of Type C. Other countries like Mexico, the UK and Ireland have also a high percentage of Type C IBs. The detailed results were to be presented and discussed in ILAC IC in April in Frankfurt, Germany to decide on how to deal with them and go further this autumn in the ILAC IC meeting in Vancouver.

Consequently to the discussions above, and further to a previous survey on inspection scopes for accreditation, the Chair will draft a specific case study together with questions to be answered by IC members, in order to better compare and discuss at the next meeting how they present inspection scopes on accreditation certificates for both pressure vessels and lifts. Discussions will also cover the degree of flexibility, which may differ depending on the way scopes are presented without introducing formally a flexible scope.

Other lively discussions concerned IAF MD 20: 2016 Generic Competence for AB Assessors. Most members expounded that IAF MD 20 included most crucial points. ABs have to be very challenging because the document does affect how they will have to work in the future. Certainly, the document is only for certification purposes now, but it can very soon be taken over by ILAC (or by ABs to uniform the requirements of their AB assessors) and become applicable for accreditation of IBs as well. The EA IC finally agreed to be reluctant to use IAF MD 20 for inspection in its present form. The Chair should present a short note for the Frankfurt ILAC IC meeting to raise ILAC’s awareness on the lack of relevance of the document which is considered not to be appropriate for inspection activities.

The EAIC Vice-Chair, Tomas Holm from SWEDAC, the Swedish NAB, reported on the latest developments in the EAIC Technical Network Car Inspection, of which he is the convener. He informed that requirements for technical services for car type approval (TA) had been included into the new EC regulation so as for ISO/IEC 17011 to be complied with by TA authorities, stressing however that this should be avoided because ISO/IEC 17011 is for accreditation bodies. SWEDAC was still discussing with Swedish national authorities (NAs) to try and improve the situation; other NABs were strongly invited to discuss with their own NAs.

Besides the Vice-Chair reported that, as requested and argued in their report submitted to the EA General Assembly in November 2016, the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee (CITA) wanted to intensify their cooperation with EA in the field of car inspection in order to develop specific guidance based on branch specific interpretations of requirements in ISO/IEC 17020. For that purpose, T. Holm emphasized the need to have some small active WG, or TFG, within TN Car Inspection in order to work in closer cooperation with CITA. The Chair urged IC members to volunteer, as well as for the TN convenorship which T. Holm would leave in late 2017.

Finally, Kelvin Belson from UKAS, the UK NAB, explained UKAS/EA concerns about the role of conformity assessment in accordance with Regulation (EC) 765/2008 in Directive 2009/15/EC on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations, especially regarding the role of the “independent quality assessment and certification entity” and their relationship with accreditation. An agreement reached on the best approach has still to be confirmed by the relevant UK Regulator.

Moreover Orbay Evrensevdi from TURKAK made a thorough and attractive presentation of how accreditation of ship inspection was managed in Turkey, based on national regulations. TURKAK’s presentation of their national-oriented accreditation scheme demonstrated that ship inspection was a very delicate issue either to perform inspection or to assess such IBs in depth. It is notably difficult to find competent technical assessors with enough appropriate knowledge, which should often be called for in other countries with similar harbour activities.

The next workshop to be organised by the EAIC on 14-15 September 2017 will be dedicated to 3
topics: sub-contracting and franchising; multisite IBs; and how to organize work to meet regulators’ needs. .

Nikola Kostić, Head of Inspection and Sertification Department attended the meeting on behalf of ATS.