Certification Overview

Why Certification

Around the world, certification has become a definitive requirement for laboratories associated with product testing, public health, medicine, environmental assessments, and construction projects. Certification (or accreditation when referring to international trade agreements) is necessary in order to ensure that testing is carried out in accordance with internationally recognized standards. As well, all developed countries embody official laboratory recognition requirements for testing associated within specific regulations. Even without regulatory and international trade pressures, laboratories continually seek to become certified in order to demonstrate, in a definitive way, their technical competence.

What Is Certification

Certification is generally defined as the procedure by which an authoritative organization gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks. For a laboratory, it is the formal recognition of a laboratory's capability to carry out specific identified tests.

Throughout the world, most countries now rely on a certification process that specifically applies to laboratories as a means of evaluating technical competence based on an international standard known as ISO 17025. This standard specifically addresses factors relevant to a laboratory's ability to produce precise, accurate test and calibration data.

Why It Is So Important

Certification of testing laboratories is critical to the construction industry. It validates the test results upon which important decisions with significant financial impact are made. The key benefits are the assurance of:

  • Qualifications, training and experience of staff
  • Equipment and instruments are appropriately calibrated and maintained
  • Sustainability of calibrations
  • Validity and appropriateness of the methods
  • Adequate quality assurance and quality control procedures associated with the laboratory procedures
  • Appropriate sampling, handling and sample transportation practices
  • Accurate recording and reporting of data
  • Appropriate testing environment (facilities, etc)
  • Traceability of measurements and calibrations to the correct standards
  • Appropriate application of method uncertainty considerations

Overall, laboratory certification results in an enhanced confidence in testing results which in turn leads to fewer disputes during construction projects.

There is little argument that when testing is performed properly, the cost-effectiveness of a project is greatly enhanced. On the other hand, improper inspection and testing can have drastic consequences, especially if this results in significant project delays or, even worse, the prospect of legal consequences.

The benefits of certification or accreditation have been well documented across many testing disciplines. In general these kinds of programs raise the standard of excellence, promote continuous improvement, enhance consumer confidence and set the stage for high standards within a particular industry. Certification ensures that up-to-date standards are followed. Moreover, laboratory managers advocate certification so they can benchmark their laboratories against others.

What Is Involved - A Summary

To ensure continued compliance, laboratories must be audited on a regular basis to ensure the standards of technical expertise are maintained. Qualified CCIL auditors carry out comprehensive inspections (annually for Concrete, every 2 years for Asphalt and Aggregate) to review all aspects of their operation. The inspections are based upon ISO 17025. Certified laboratories must possess the equipment and employ staff qualified to execute all the test methods for which the laboratory is certified.

Also - a key component of the accreditation/certification process is proficiency testing. For this, certified laboratories participate in correlation testing in accordance with the laboratories published methods. A laboratory must perform within a pre-determined specification to maintain its qualification status.

A third key component of the certification process is that technicians employed by certified laboratories must demonstrate their proficiency of carrying out test procedures for which the laboratory is certified through practical tests and written examinations.

Certified laboratories must also have an appropriate quality manual and a quality system in place. CCIL has developed a quality manual template and user guide as an aid for laboratories developing a quality system.

CCIL Certification Programs- An Overview

CCIL certification demonstrates that the laboratory has the experienced and trained staff, the right equipment, and the most up-to-date systems and procedures that are necessary to consistently provide quality testing services.

CCIL provides certification programs for Asphalt, Aggregate and Concrete testing laboratories and laboratory technicians. CCIL currently has over 700 certified laboratories across Canada, in all Provinces as well as in the North West Territories.

The operations and management of the certification programs are administered by CCIL's Certification Program Manager and technical staff. Information on the certification programs can be obtained from:

CCIL Certification Office

Telephone: 289-337-8888/ Fax: 289-337-8889
Gigi Kermath, Administrative Assistant
Email: gkermath@ccil.com

Nabil Kamel, M.A.Sc., P.Eng, CCIL Certification Programs Manager
E-mail: nkamel@ccil.com

CCIL Impartiality and Confidentiality Commitment

CCIl Certification Office is committed to impartiality and confidentiality in our laboratory and laboratory technician certification activities.
CCIL Certification Office operates the laboratory and laboratory technician certification activities objectively and strives to identify, analyze and document the possibilities for conflicts of interest arising from provision of certification and resulting relationships. CCIL Certification Office does not provide certification in cases of unacceptable threat to impariality
Protecting laboratory and laboratory technician information is vital to the success of the CCIL Certification Programs. Most of the information gathered and maintained by CCIL Certification Office is considered proprietary and confidential. This information includes but is not limited to all technical, financial, personnel, client and business information that is sensitive, confidential, private or classified. CCIL Certification Office will not disclose confidential and non-public information without proper authorization of the owner of the information, unless required to do so by law.   

 

Asphalt and Aggregate Certification Programs

The certification programs for Asphalt and Aggregate employ local testing procedures to ensure consistency with local provincial and municipal test requirements. The certification programs for Asphalt and Aggregates are overseen by local Certification Program Administration Committees (CPAC) which establish and direct the technical elements of the programs. The CPACs are comprised of representatives from industry stakeholder organizations, including:

Ontario CPAC

  • CCIL - Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories
  • OHMPA - Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association
  • OSSGA - Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association
  • MTO - Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
  • MEA - Municipal Engineers Association

British Columbia CPAC

  • CCIL - Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories
  • BCRHCA - BC Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association
  • BCMOT - British Columbia Ministry of Transportation
  • MMCD - Master Municipal Construction Documents Association

Alberta CPAC

  • CCIL - Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories
  • ATT - Alberta Transportation
  • TCC - The city of Calgary
  • ARHCA - Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association

Concrete Certification Program

In 2009, CCIL acquired the Concrete laboratory certification program from CSA International. The acquisition of the CSA program allowed for an orderly transfer and continuation of a quality certification program staffed by highly trained CCIL materials testing engineers, scientists and inspectors.

The certification program for Concrete is a national program which certifies laboratories in accordance with CSA A283-06, the current qualification code for concrete testing laboratories. The concrete certification program is overseen by a National CPAC committee consisting of representatives of various industry stakeholder organizations, including:

Concrete CPAC

  • CCIL - Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories
  • Lafarge Canada Inc, Surrey, BC
  • The City of Calgary, Calgary, AB
  • MTO - Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications

Publications and Presentations

  1. Maher, M. L. J. And Dickson, J. H., "Improving Asphalt Laboratory Testing Standards to Meet Requirement of End Result Specifications". Canadian Technical Asphalt Associates Proceedings, Annual Conference, Ottawa ON, November 1997.
  2. McIntee, G. G., Maher, M. L. J., Dickson, J. H. and Aurilio, V., "CCIL Hot Mix Asphalt Technician Certification Program" published by CTAA Proceedings, Winnipeg MB, November 2000.
  3. CCIL Asphalt and Aggregate Laboratory and Technician Certification Programs, Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories, Document LC-101, July 2009.
  4. Kamel, N., "Expansion of CCIL Laboratory Certification in Western Canada", presented at the TAC Annual Conference, Vancouver BC, October 2009.
  5. Kamel, N., "Laboratory and Technician Certification" presentation made at the 2010 CUPGA/CTAA Annual Conference, Canadian Technical Asphalt Association, Edmonton AB, November, 2010.
  6. Kamel, N., McIntee, G., Rogers, C. and Maynard, A. "Laboratory Certification – Why it is Critical for the Construction Industry in Canada", presented at the Soils and Materials Standing Committee, TAC Annual Meeting, Edmonton AB, September, 2011.
  7. User Guide for ABC Laboratories Quality System Manual ISD/IEC 17025-2005, provided by CCIL to CCIL certified laboratories, updated December 2011.