Why is accreditation mandatory in certain sectors ?
Initially based on a voluntary approach from companies, accreditation has progressively become mandatory in certain sectors of activity.
Giving your customers confidence, setting yourself apart from the competition, developing internationally: these are the historic reasons encouraging inspection bodies to apply for accreditation. Yet for some years certain sectors have been subject to mandatory accreditation so that their competence is officially recognised and regularly inspected. This is referred to as regulatory obligation.
In what cases does accreditation become mandatory?
In certain cases, an accreditation may be required by the public authorities as a prerequisite for obtaining an approval, or in the framework of a national regulation or a European directive. Today, this accreditation obligation is particularly common in the sector of human health and safety. The objective of the authorities is to guarantee the competence of the bodies that measure, for example, asbestos fibre dust in buildings, or inspect tachographs, the devices that record the speed and driving time of truck drivers.
Accreditation may also be mandatory in certain sectors where the State has decided to delegate to private bodies the inspections that it previously carried out itself. For example, roadworthiness inspections of HGVs, or inspections relating to the classification of hotels.
Lastly, the European Commission encourages Member States to make use of accreditation, as it facilitates the mutual recognition of the services carried out by the accredited bodies. Hence, tests conducted by an accredited body in one Member State are automatically recognised in another Member State, without having to carry out a new series of tests. In this way, accreditation helps ensure fluid trade within the internal market.The mandatory character of accreditation is determined by the legislation in force in the sectors of activity concerned (Consumer Code, Health Code, etc.).
Some examples of areas where accreditation is mandatory
- In the field of consumer goods and services: accreditation of bodies for the certification of products or services enables improved protection for consumers, in particular by ensuring the quality of the certification marks endorsing the products.
- In the healthcare field: accreditation of biomedical laboratories helps reinforce the quality of health care for the patient, mainly by ensuring the reliability of examination results.
- In the tourism field: accreditation of the inspection bodies that inspect commercial tourist establishments seeking classification boosts the credibility of the classification process.
- In the housing field: accreditation of bodies for the certification of property diagnosticians protects private individuals by ensuring that these diagnosticians are certified by competent and impartial bodies.
Currently, we can estimate that around half of the accreditations issued by Cofrac are mandatory. The development of new accreditation schemes is a major priority in order to meet the demands and needs of the market.