The laboratories, radiology practices and inspection bodies used by New Zealanders have never been more closely scrutinised, giving Kiwis peace of mind, while also saving companies money.
The organisation responsible – International Accreditation New Zealand – is celebrating its 40th anniversary of independently accrediting a wide range of companies and organisations nationwide.
“When we started in 1973, we had no clients; now we have 830,” says IANZ chief executive Dr Llew Richards, who has been at the helm since 1996.
“Back then, we were very much about providing assurance to our clients of their technical and scientific competence. Now, that assurance has grown to include recognition by New Zealand society as a whole.
“Today, regulators and the general public recognise and rely on IANZ accreditation to make sure things are right. We’re very conscious of what we do in terms of protecting health, safety and the environment and also the role accreditation now plays in improving and facilitating global trade,” says Dr Richards.
IANZ’s work is internationally bench-marked and validated through rigorous peer evaluation processes. It has signed formal Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) with more than 65 countries worldwide enabling those countries to recognise results from IANZ accredited clients and vice versa.
“This is very useful for New Zealand manufacturers and allows them to gain direct access to overseas markets. It also provides time and cost benefits for local companies bringing in products from overseas where the New Zealand regulator accepts the testing from an overseas accredited laboratory.”
Dr Richards says the biggest change in the past 40 years from IANZ’s perspective has been the changing role of regulators in New Zealand, particularly during the 1980s and early 1990s when the focus switched to the market delivering, rather than regulators carrying out their own monitoring.
“As a result, and in recognition of the rigour of IANZ processes, many activities that were carried out by bodies like the Ministry of Transport or Agriculture and Fisheries, such as inspection of boilers, lifts and cranes or monitoring of dairy labs, are now done independently by IANZ.”
Dr Richards says having a single accreditation authority means duplication of assessment is avoided.
“Overall, the process is significantly more efficient now than having a plethora of monitoring agencies for each activity.”