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ACLASS

Interlaboratory Comparisons/
Proficiency Testing
Document Number 11

ACLASS

Interlaboratory Comparisons/Proficiency Testing

Document 11

February 23, 2004

REVISION HISTORY
Date
November 27, 2000
November 28, 2000
November 30, 2000
July 15, 2002
August 1, 2002

February 20, 2003


June 10, 2003

January 29, 2004


February 23, 2004

Description/Author
Draft. R. Nappier
Review/input/corrections. C. Shillito
Initial Release. R. Nappier
Re-Formatted entire document; changed font, alignment, and margins
Changed Distribution and approval page, added registered trademark
to ACLASS throughout document changed spacing throughout
document and changed date inside header. J. Warren.
Re-formatted document K. Greenaway
Updated document in response to NACLA input from NACLA
Accreditation Body Recognition Procedure Requirements K.
Greenaway
Updated section 2.1 K. Greenaway
Final Review K. Greenaway

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ACLASS

0.0

Interlaboratory Comparisons/Proficiency Testing

Document 11

February 23, 2004

PURPOSE

The purpose of this document is to establish guidance on requirements for participation in


proficiency testing or interlaboratory comparison programs for all laboratories accredited by
ACLASS.
1.0

DEFINITIONS AND INTRODUCTION

1.1 Interlaboratory Comparisons: The organization, performance and evaluation of


calibration/tests results for the same or similar item by two or more laboratories in
accordance with predetermined conditions.
1.1.1 Interlaboratory comparisons are accomplished for several reasons or purposes. Some
uses are:
1.1.1.1 Determination of a laboratorys performance in the conducting of specific tests or
calibration measurements.
1.1.1.2 Monitoring of an accredited laboratorys on going performance by the laboratorys
accreditation body.
1.1.1.3 Identification of possible problems in test/calibration laboratories and the initiation of
any required remedial actions that may be related to such issues as individual staff
performance or instrumentation calibration.
1.1.1.4 Providing of confidence in a laboratorys measurements to its customers.
1.1.1.5 Determination of a methods performance characteristics, effectiveness, or
comparability of a new method with established methods.
1.2 Proficiency Testing: The determination of a laboratorys calibration/testing performance,
usually by use of interlaboratory comparisons.
1.2.1 A laboratorys participation in proficiency testing enables the laboratory to assess and
demonstrate the reliability of the resultant measurement data by comparison with results
from other participating laboratories.
1.2.2 Proficiency testing is most often used to assess a laboratorys capability to perform
competent tests or measurements. The data resulting from a proficiency test may be used by
the accreditation body, a laboratory customer, or the laboratory itself, and thus can
supplement the laboratorys internal quality program. Customers of calibration or testing
laboratories desire confidence that the services they are receiving are reliable and accurate.

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ACLASS

2.0

Interlaboratory Comparisons/Proficiency Testing

Document 11

February 23, 2004

ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENTS

2.1 ACLASS requires that any laboratory applying for accreditation must show evidence of
successful participation in relevant proficiency testing (if available). ACLASS customers
shall submit a copy of their proficiency testing report, each year, to ACLASS. This copy
only needs to be a summary of the proficiency testing report. If proficiency testing is not
available for a particular measurement discipline or parameter through existing proficiency
testing programs, internal performance-based data demonstrating laboratory competence and
measurement performance in comparison with another laboratory entity can be substituted
for achieving initial accreditation. Depending on availability of measurement artifacts and
other factors, ACLASS may elect to accredit a laboratory before participation in a
proficiency test or interlaboratory comparison is completed. In those instances, the
accreditation is granted with the understanding that continued accreditation is dependent
upon demonstration of successful participation at the first surveillance as artifacts become
available.
2.2 Each accredited laboratory will be expected to participate in a minimum of one
proficiency test/interlaboratory comparison for each major sub-area of major disciplines of
the laboratorys scope of accreditation at least every four years. For laboratories with less
than four major sub-areas, the minimum participation required is once a year. Of course,
laboratories are highly encouraged to participate more frequently, as individual
circumstances may dictate. Should any significant change to a laboratorys staff occur after
initial accreditation, ACLASS may elect to shorten the four year interval, on a case by case
basis.
2.3 All laboratories accredited by ACLASS are required to promptly submit results of their
participation in relevant proficiency testing to the ACLASS accreditation manager. Should
participation result in any unacceptable or outlying results, prompt and detailed corrective
action responses will also be required. Any laboratory that fails to participate in required
proficiency testing, or whose participation results in unacceptable performance, risks an
additional on-site surveillance visit by ACLASS or possible withdrawal of accreditation.
2.3.1

For calibration laboratories, the ACLASS evaluation of a laboratorys results of


proficiency testing will usually be based upon the following equation:

En =

Lab Ref
(U 95 Lab ) 2 + (U 95 Ref ) 2

Where Lab and Ref are the laboratory and reference measurement values for the
measurement in question and U95Lab and U95Ref represent the expanded uncertainties
expressed at the 95% confidence level for the laboratory and reference laboratory
respectively. En values greater than 1 are considered unsatisfactory in that they indicate a
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ACLASS

Interlaboratory Comparisons/Proficiency Testing

Document 11

February 23, 2004

laboratorys measurement result and associated uncertainty deviate significantly from the
reference measurement result and associated reference uncertainty. En values less than or
equal to 1 are considered satisfactory.
2.3.2 Should the above equation not be applicable to the measurement in question for
whatever reason (e.g. a testing laboratory), the proficiency testing providers
interpretation/calculations may be used, in addition to other applicable calculations of
performance found in ISO/IEC Guide 43-1.
2.3.3 A laboratory that receives unsatisfactory results during a proficiency test (for example
En greater than 1) is required to promptly provide evidence of corrective action taken to
correct the problem. Should a thorough investigation fail to identify a cause for the
unsatisfactory result, the laboratory is required to provide ACLASS all details of their
investigation for further review and determination of the subsequent course of action to be
taken.
3.0

SELECTION OF PROFICIENCY TESTING SCHEMES/PROGRAMS

3.1 Laboratories accredited by ACLASS are highly encouraged to select proficiency testing
providers that can demonstrate their programs are accredited and comply with the
requirements of ISO Guide 43-1. Where appropriate accredited proficiency testing providers
are not available, laboratories should use programs that operate in accordance with ISO
Guide 43-1. ACLASS also reserves the right to require mandatory participation of any
laboratory it accredits to take part in any future proficiency program that may be mandated or
administered by the National Cooperation for Laboratory Accreditation (NACLA).
3.2 ISO/IEC Guide 43-2 provides guidance to accreditation bodies for selection and use of
proficiency testing schemes. Any laboratory that is unable to locate a suitable proficiency
provider or requires assistance in the selection thereof, should contact the ACLASS
accreditation manager for assistance.

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ACLASS

Interlaboratory Comparisons/Proficiency Testing

Document 11

DISTRIBUTION AND APPROVAL

Distribute to:
Main File
CEO/President
Executive Vice President/COO
Accreditation Manager
Board of Governors
Assessors

Approvals:

\s\
Skip Greenaway
CEO/President

\s\
Keith Greenaway
Executive Vice President/COO

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February 23, 2004