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ISO 17020, entitled "General Criteria for the Operation of Various Types of Bodies Performing Inspection", is an internationally recognized standard for the competence of inspection bodies. ISO 17020 should not be confused with ISO 9001, which is specific to quality management systems.  ISO 9001 does not require evaluation of the technical competence of an inspection body and it should not be regarded as an ‘acceptable’ alternative to ISO 17020.

Overview of ISO 17020

The requirements of ISO 17020 are contained in 14 major sections including:

  1. Administrative requirements
  2. Requirements for independence, impartiality, and integrity
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Organization and management
  5. Quality system
  6. Personnel
  7. Facilities and equipment
  8. Inspection methods and procedures
  9. Handling of inspection samples and items
  10. Control of records
  11. Inspection reports and inspection certificates
  12. Subcontracting
  13. Complaints and appeals
  14. Cooperation with other inspection bodies

Like ISO 9001 and ISO 17025, ISO 17020 requires procedures in several important areas, including:

bulletProcedure to ensure that persons or organizations external to the inspection body cannot influence the results of inspections by the ISO 17020-accredited organization
bulletProcedure for feedback
bulletProcedure for corrective action
bulletProcedure for the care and maintenance of equipment
bulletProcedure for selecting qualified suppliers
bulletProcedure for purchasing
bulletProcedure for inspection of materials received by the organization
bulletProcedure for appropriate storage facilities
bulletProcedure for protecting the integrity of data produced by the organization
bulletProcedure for ensuring the security of data produced by the organization
bulletProcedure for dealing with defective equipment
bulletProcedure(s) for performing inspections
bulletProcedure(s) for performing non-standard inspections
bulletProcedure(s) for avoiding deterioration or damage to inspection items
bulletProcedure for dealing with complaints
bulletProcedure for dealing with appeals against the results of inspections

In addition EHS recommends the following additional procedures as a minimum supplement to the required procedures:

bulletControl of non-conforming work
bulletPreventive action
bulletInternal auditing
bulletManagement review
bulletCalibration of equipment
bulletContract review
bulletDocument control
bulletRecords control
bulletReporting the results of an inspection


EHS offers comprehensive services that will help you achieve your ISO 17020 quality goals. We can:

bulletConduct an initial gap analysis
bulletHelp you establish policies and objectives
bulletIdentify documentation requirements
bulletMake assignments and prepare schedules
bulletPrepare documentation
bulletCoordinate document preparation, reviews, approvals, and production
bulletPrepare the following key documents:
bulletQuality Policy
bulletQuality Manual
bulletMaster List of Documents
bulletManage implementation schedules, training, follow-up actions
bulletHelp you select a Registrar that has experience in your industry
bulletPrepare status reports and monitor progress
bulletConduct training
bulletConduct internal audits
bulletRequest registration
bulletConduct vendor and supplier audits
bulletConduct customer satisfaction surveys
bulletDevelop quality system intranets to help you manage your documents

For additional information:

Click Contact Us to send us your comments or to request information about our ISO 17020 services and capabilities.  Of course, you may also contact us by telephone, toll-free, at 877-670-7841.

Click Contact Us to send us your comments or to request information about our ISO 17020 services and capabilities.  Of course, you may also contact us by telephone, toll-free,
at 877-670-7841.

In Maryland - 301-865-6380
In Virginia - 540-349-3220

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