Conformity assessment refers to any activity that determines whether a product, system, service and sometimes people fulfil the requirements and characteristics described in a standard or specification. Such requirements can include performance, safety, efficiency, effectiveness, reliability, durability, or environmental impacts such as pollution or noise, for example. Verification is generally done through testing or/and inspection. This may or may not include on-going verification.
Conformity Assessment Board
The CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) is responsible for the management and supervision of IEC conformity assessment activities, including oversight of the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.
Conformity assessment and standards
Conformity assessment is the activity of verifying that a standard or technical specification was applied in the design, manufacturing, installation, maintenance or repair of a device or system. This activity must be carried out according to a set of well-defined rules to ensure consistent and replicable results. In other words, conformity assessment itself needs to use a standardized approach.
The IEC and ISO have therefore developed and published a series of international standards specifying how conformity assessment should be carried out. The ISO/IEC 17000 standards series, as well as a number of ISO/IEC Guides, are contained in what is familiarly called the CASCO Toolbox, which provides a full set of tools for anyone wishing to know how to carry out consistent and reliable conformity assessment.
Before a product can enter a market, it generally needs to be able to demonstrate to the buyer or regulator that it is safe and performs as promised in terms of energy efficiency, reliability, sustainability, and many other criteria.
Conformity assessment provides the necessary proof, based on standards.
With conformity assessment:
- Governments have it easier to verify the resilience of infrastructure and are better able to protect their populations from unnecessary risks
- Insurers get confirmation that risks have been properly managed and relevant safety considerations included
- Buyers receive proof about a product's or system's safety, performance and reliability
- Investors are able to trust that industry-wide best-practice has been applied and their investment is as secure as it can be
- Users of equipment and consumers can be confident that electrical and electronic devices are safe to use and perform to expectations
The IEC provides a framework that supports all types of conformity assessment and allows for testing to be transparent, predictable, comparable, and affordable. IEC International Standards together with conformity assessment help reduce trade barriers caused by different certification criteria in different countries. The IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems also help remove significant delays and expense for multiple testing and approval.
IEC Standards enable all types of conformity assessment. They are written in such a way that conformity to them can be assessed by any interested party.
While the IEC does not perform testing and certification activities itself, it provides a framework in which professional certification bodies and testing laboratories from around the world participate in the IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems. These CA Systems form the only globally standardized approach to testing and certification and are effectively the biggest functioning multilateral agreement in the world. Every member participating in a CA scheme accepts the test results and certificates of all the other members of that CA scheme. As a result duplication of testing is largely avoided and products can be brought to market faster and at less cost.
The conformity assessment policy outlines the general principles that all members of the IEC CA Systems must follow.