PJLA’s Accreditation Process
Process 1 – Applying for Accreditation
Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs)- i.e. (labs, inspection bodies, proficiency testing providers, reference material producers) shall submit an application for accreditation to PJLA that includes details of the CAB in regard to the size, complexity and scope. We encourage CABs to accurately complete the application as this is utilized to determine assessment time and assessor qualification. Once PJLA reviews the application, a quotation for accreditation services will be generated. PJLA makes it a goal to process quotations within 24 hours. A follow-up call will be provided to each client receiving a quotation by a PJLA representative.
Process 2 – Accepting PJLA as Your Accreditation Service Provider
To start the accreditation process, all CABs will be requested to sign an agreement for services and provide a deposit. The deposit is non-refundable and will be credited against the accreditation assessment statement. During this acceptance stage, PJLA offers CABs the option to receive a Pending of Accreditation Letter announcing their commitment to becoming accredited in the future.
Process 3 – Scheduling the Assessment
All PJLA clients are assigned a designated accreditation program assistant (APA) who is the main point of contact for the accreditation process. An APA will reach out shortly after the close of the contract to confirm assessment timelines and the applicant scope of accreditation. Assessors will be selected based on the standard and the scope of accreditation applied for. In some cases, there may be a team of assessors depending on the complexity of the CAB’s scope of activities. Once a date is agreed upon between the client and the assessor, the assessment will be scheduled, and the necessary confirmation/preparation forms will be submitted to each CAB for review and approval. A list of documentation will requested to each CAB to provide to PJLA 30 days prior to the assessment.
Process 4 – Preliminary Assessment Preparation
The lead assessor will contact the CAB 2-4 weeks prior to the assessment to develop the assessment plan and may request any additional documentation to prepare for the on-site assessment. The assessor will confirm the start and end times of the assessment, equipment needed, confidential or prohibited information, guides for the assessment and location of the facility. The assessor will request that the appropriate personnel are available and activities performed outside of the fixed facility are made available for witnessing.
Process 5 – The On-Site Assessment
An opening meeting will be conducted with all pertinent personnel to confirm the schedule and the scope of accreditation. The assessment will be conducted as planned and will include a review of the CAB’s quality management system and technical operation for all items on the scope of accreditation or application. During the assessment, assessors should brief the quality manager of the nonconformities detected each day to avoid any surprises at the end of the assessment. A closing meeting will be performed at the end of the assessment in which the CAB will receive a listing of nonconformities or observations and a final assessment report as time permits. The CABs will be requested to sign that they agree with the findings during this time. Any findings that are not agreed upon should follow PJLA’s Dispute and Appeal Procedure (SOP-10). The timeline for the closure of the findings will also be provided.
Process 6 – Corrective Action Process
CABs are expected to respond to each nonconformity within 60 days from the last day of assessment. Failure to submit corrective action could result in the suspension of accreditation or a follow up visit. CABs shall respond on their own corrective action form that shall include a cause, corrective action, and relevant objective evidence to support the implementation of the actions taken. Corrective action responses and relevant supporting information should be labeled appropriately to avoid any delays with the assessor review process.
Process 7 – Accreditation Decision
Once the assessment team accepts the corrective action, the final assessment material is submitted to PJLA headquarters for review and submission to our Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is an independent review committee that evaluates the assessment material to make the final decision on the granting or denial of accreditation. Any assessment material that is denied will be provided back to the assessor for correction or if necessary, the CAB will be contacted for a correction or clarification.
Process 8 – Granting of the Final Certificate
Once PJLA headquarters is notified that a favorable result has been granted by the Executive Committee a 2-year certificate will be issued. Clients will receive a draft certificate first to confirm the details are accurate and upon approval and clearance of any outstanding balances a final certificate will be issued and posted on PJLA’s website under the listing of accredited CAB’s. CABs will receive a marketing package including a plaque to promote their accreditation. Additionally, artwork will be provided including the PJLA accreditation symbol and information on how to utilize the ILAC MRA Mark. PJLA encourage all CABs to place the PJLA accreditation symbol on conformity assessment reports.
Process 9 – Maintenance of Accreditation
CABs will be required to show evidence that they are maintaining their accreditation. This is conducted through an annual surveillance that is completed 12 months from the initial assessment date regardless of when the final certificate was issued. Surveillance assessments occur after each full system assessment i.e. -initial accreditation assessments and reassessments. Once CABs complete one full accreditation cycle (i.e. initial accreditation assessment, surveillance and reassessment), the following surveillance can be conducted through a documentation review only as long as the performance of the CAB’s past assessment result reflects positively. In some cases, surveillances may always be performed on site for CABs that have complex scopes or the inability to share records electronically.