One of the strengths of a NATA assessment is the interchange between the Technical Assessor and facility staff as both parties can benefit from the exchange of opinions and ideas.
Naturally, assessors try to be as helpful as they can in discussions with facility personnel during assessments, however, the desire to be helpful may sometimes result in subsequent difficulties for NATA and the facility.
An example of this is during a visit where the facility is being assessed for a new test, the Technical Assessor may recommend the facility be assessed for another test within their existing competency, e.g., extending the scope of accreditation to encompass both International and Australian versions of a Standard.
It is usually impractical for NATA to process such requests during the assessment visit.
Apart from time considerations, facilities may not have a written procedure for the requested Standard, nor have they performed any testing or quality assurance activities. Therefore, there will be insufficient evidence for the assessment team to make a meaningful evaluation of the facility’s competence.
Occasionally, unexpected requests for scope extensions may be accommodated at a scheduled assessment. This may only occur when the requests do not compromise the purpose of the visit, and the laboratory is adequately furnished with all the supporting documents, records, procedures, training, and equipment for the new method.
Of course, any requests that cannot be assessed at a scheduled visit can still be accommodated through a separate assessment activity, e.g., a desktop variation or site visit.
If you have any questions in this, please contact your accreditation coordinator.