What is conformity assessment?
In its simplest form, conformity assessment is determining (directly or indirectly) if a process, product, materials, services, systems or people meet the specifications of a relevant standard, such as a CARICOM Regional Standards.
What is involved in conformity assessment?
Conformity assessment can involve one or more of the following:
- testing and/or calibration of a product or service to determine if it meets specified requirements or performs in accordance with them;
- inspection of the manufacturing process of a product to ensure that it is produced or assembled in an appropriate manner with regards to health and safety, especially according to any health, safety or environmental regulations;
- certification to a management system to ensure that a product or service is produced in a consistent manner and will satisfy the purpose for which it is intended; and
- accreditation of a product certification body to demonstrate its competence to carry out third party attestations.
Who performs conformity assessment?
Many products require testing to demonstrate conformance to specific requirements or safety standards before being eligible to be placed on the market. Conformity assessment activities are provided by private as well as governmental organisations. In developing countries, the government plays a key role in setting up conformity assessment bodies (CABs). However, due to the high quantity of trade occurring and in turn the large volume of conformity assessment activities required, these activities are generally performed by accredited inspection, testing and certification bodies.
Private investment is taking an increasing responsibility in this field.
What are the benefits of conformity assessment?
Conformity assessment provides many benefits to all aspects of the supply and demand chain:
- manufacturers are confident that their products or services meet required criteria;
- suppliers are secure in the knowledge that the product or service they are offering for sale meets necessary criteria and can be confidently used for the purpose intended;
- consumers are assured that the products or services purchased meet the necessary requirements and are suitable for the purpose intended; and
- regulators can use it to ensure health, safety and environmental requirements are met.
Additionally, by having verification by an inspection or certification body, market access is facilitated.
How does CROSQ support conformity assessment?
When countries within the region reach agreements on the acceptability of requirements, methods of assessment, or inspection of test results, technical barriers to trade are effectively removed. The development and establishment of regional standards outlining the requirements, tests methods and inspection of test results for products or services, allows for harmonisation throughout the region by ensuring that the same methods of assessment are conducted in each Member State and the results can be more easily compared across the board. This in turn facilitates intra-regional trade as well as trade within the country itself by providing purchasers of the products or services with the assurance that the products or services meet the necessary requirements.