In Canada, the accreditation of calibration laboratories is the shared responsibility of the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Calibration Laboratory Assessment Service (CLAS). The CLAS program provides quality system and technical assessment services and certification of specific measurement capabilities of calibration laboratories in support of the Canadian National Measurement System.
Eligibility for CLAS certification is required for SCC accreditation of calibration laboratories. The SCC grants accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 for qualified laboratories. The SCC-NRC Agreement of Cooperation contains a detailed description of shared responsibilities in the accreditation of calibration laboratories.
CLAS maintains a directory of accredited calibration laboratories providing a network of calibration laboratories to ensure clients across Canada have access to calibration services with certified traceability to national and international measurement standards. Calibration laboratories certified by CLAS offer measurements traceable to the International System of Units (SI). This traceability provides the basis for fair trade, increased global market acceptance of test reports and products, enhanced product quality, and demonstration of conformance to such international quality standards as ISO 9000 series.
International arrangements are in place to help ensure that calibration laboratories that are certified by CLAS and accredited by the SCC are recognized by over 100 accreditation systems worldwide.
In its role as Canada's national standards laboratory, NRC maintains close ties with the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) and a number of other international organizations such as the Inter-american Metrology System (SIM), the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), and the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), as well as the national laboratories of other industrialized countries. These international interactions ensure that Canada's laboratory accreditation system is compatible with the accreditation systems of Canada's major trading partners.
SCC-accredited and CLAS-certified laboratories may use the SCC accreditation symbol and the CLAS trademark provided that they sign appropriate license agreements for their use.
As per the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011, CLAS and all accreditation bodies are required to conduct an analysis of related bodies. This analysis is available upon request.
CLAS ensures that all information from customers and from peer accreditation bodies remains confidential and that the assessment process is objective.
Clients choose CLAS assessed laboratories because they are interested in pushing precision calibration to its highest level and want to be associated with like-minded businesses. These two things seem to go together - an interest in quality and an interest in business excellence.
CLAS assessment is an exercise demanding of time, resources, and energy. If a laboratory is merely interested in the paper certificate, it is possible to go elsewhere for assessment - to take the path of lesser resistance - where the criteria is less robust, less severe. Calibration laboratory clients would not know the difference. However, if the goal is to be a better lab today than you were yesterday, you choose NRC's CLAS program.