Inspections undertaken by accredited CABs against ISO/IEC 17020, verify the conformity of products or services with specific or general requirements. According to the definition of inspection given in the standard, general requirements are many, variable, and cannot be checked against just one reference document. In the absence of a specific certification technique, a professional evaluation is carried out by a technician who is competent in the sector, who gives an evaluation of the conformity and declares the overall acceptability of the object of the inspection.
The inspection is a kind of photograph of the status of conformity of a design, product, service system or process at a given moment in time. Clearly, it is possible to programme another audit at a future date.
Inspection activities regard a multiplicity of sectors – from construction to agriculture. It may be required by the producer, by the client, the user or by competent authorities. It takes place according to parameters of quantity, quality, safety or fulfillment of the scope, taking into consideration the conformity over time of machinery or the system. It may regard the entire life-cycle of the product, service, system or design.
An inspection performed by an accredited inspection body gathers information on the status of conformity at a given moment. It can include controls, product measurements or tests, document exams, the comparison of results against the requirements or sector best practices.
In a broader context, an inspection audit may be used as a surveillance activity in a product certification scheme, coming before maintenance; or it may provide information with respect to the item inspected, without any declaration of conformity.
In some cases an inspection audit may overlap with a test or certification audit, but what distinguishes it is the possibility – which often occurs – of receiving a professional opinion from the inspector of the acceptability of the inspected item against the general requirements. The CAB must have the necessary competences to do this.
Inspection bodies are classified as belonging to Type A, Type B or Type C, depending upon the extent of their independence. Demonstrable independence can strengthen trust among clients in the body’s ability to perform impartial audits.
Third party bodies which are totally independent of the inspected item.
First and/or second party bodies, separate and identifiable, of a parent organization, active in designing, maintaining, marketing, installing and using the inspected item.
First and/or second party bodies, which are identifiable but not necessarily separate, of a parent organization active in designing, maintaining, marketing, installing and using the inspected item.
Inspections are performed by inspection bodies accredited according to the ISO/IEC 17020.