What is a CB? Terms and acronyms are thrown about with abandon here in the standards world. Take for example the term “CB.” It stands for “Certification Body,” sometimes known as an accredited registrar. These are organizations that have been recognized by an accreditation body like the ANAB, the EPA, SAAS and so on. CB’s have the credentials to perform audits and reviews that lead to registration or certification for a particular standard, code or labeling requirement.
Let’s think of the process of certification in terms of a three-tier structure. At the top is the standard or other set of requirements needed to meet the certification criteria. In the middle are the folks who are qualified to see if an organization meets those criteria. At the bottom are all the companies that have proved that their products and services meet the standard.
The top tier — standards developer and accreditor — may be the same or may be divided into two separate organizations. So when the EPA sets up the WaterSense program or the EnergyStar program, it sets the criteria for compliance and determines what laboratories and other certification groups are qualified to audit to those criteria.
There is usually a slight difference when a standards developing organization (SDO) writes a standard that will be used for certification. In order to avoid the suggestion of a conflict of interest, it is not uncommon for the SDO to hand over the accreditation part of the process to an outside party. This is to avoid any appearance of favoritism or other mishandling of those services. So that’s the reason the ANAB has been set up here in the U.S. as an example.
How can you find a certified body when you’re ready? First of all, you’ll want to use the schema for your certification as the jumping-off point. If you want to be certified for an EPA program, you’ll check in with that program to see who’s qualified to audit and approve you. So for WaterSense, there’s a list of both accreditation bodies and certified bodies at http://www.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/cert_bodies.html. A similar site for the EnergyStar program is at https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=recognized_bodies_list.show_RCB_search_form.
In some instances the source for this information is based on your jurisdiction (location). So for ISO 9001 certification, for example, U.S. companies would go to the ANAB, European companies would choose the NAB (National Accreditation Body) for their country, and Australia/New Zealand rely on JAS ANZ. If you’re not sure what accreditation bodies exist in your area, check in with the listing for the membership of the International Accreditation Forum. It’s arranged by country for your convenience.
One thing that you’re sure to notice is that accreditators often will be able to authorize CB’s for a range of certification programs. So if you have more than one certification scheme in your business, this is an opportunity to see if one CB can handle them all for you.
Last question. Why use a Certified Body? Unless you have official registration for a certification scheme, you are not authorized to use a label, mark or other promotion for that program. Like all things, you are buying a service when you use a Certification Body. So make sure that you’re confident of the organizations credentials before you sign on for your audit and registration!
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