Evolution of the HPS Laboratory Accreditation Program
K.L. Swinth (Consultant)
In 1984 a workshop was held at the National Institute of Standards and Technology on the performance and calibration of radiation survey instruments. One outcome of the workshop was identification of the need for a program to accredit laboratories that calibrate instruments used in radiation protection. As a result of this recommendation, the HPS formed an ad hoc committee to consider the feasibility of operating a calibration accreditation program through the Society. The ad hoc committee met several times to consider liability, technical and operational issues and to draft criteria for an operational program. The program and basic operational criteria were approved by the Board in 1987 and the first two laboratories were accredited in 1988. In 1990 the liability issues and the program structure were reviewed by a second ad hoc committee. This reaffirmed the basis for the program and led to slight modifications in the operational structure to improve the definition of responsibilities and to establish the position of a technical director. The program has evolved from the initial structure based on expert derived technical and operational criteria. In 1994 the operational documentation was brought into line with ISO/IEC Guide 25 and has recently been updated to ISO/IEC 17025, "General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories." In addition, the program has evolved to meet the needs of HPS members. This has included adding criteria for low dose rate calibrations and for accreditation of source manufacturing laboratories. Documentation has been developed for accreditation of the HPS program which will bring added recognition to the program and the participating laboratories. This accreditation through NACLA (National Cooperation for Laboratory Accreditation) is expected to result in broader recognition of the competence of the accredited laboratories by regulators and other accrediting organizations.