What is the meaning of the word “use” A.1 b, c and d and in the notes in Annex A? An inspection body and its personnel are obliged not to be engaged in any activity that constitutes a conflict/threat to its independence of judgment. At the same time the inspection body is allowed to purchase, own and use the inspected items for the performance of inspection activities. Likewise, the inspection body personnel may use such items for personal purposes. Then what type of “use” is forbidden?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17020  ·  CLAUSE: 4.1.6  ·  TOPIC: Maintaining independence  · 


Note 2 to bullet c) in A.1 points out that the limitation to use the items inspected does not preclude use that is necessary for the operations of another part of the same legal entity or for personal purposes of the personnel. Such cases may be when an inspection body uses lap top computers (specific brand and model) for their inspection work even though they might have performed an inspection on the same brand and model of lap top computer. Another example would be that personnel should still be able to take the elevator to the 4th floor, even if it has been engaged in the inspection of the same brand and model of elevator. However, the inspected item cannot be an integral part of the business of the inspection body or the company of which it is a part. E.g. an inspection body of a power company cannot inspect turbines of the same brand and model as it uses in its own operations.


ISO 17020:2012 clause 4.1.6c) states “An inspection body providing first party inspections, second party inspections, or both, which forms an identifiable but not necessarily a separate part of an organization involved in the design, manufacture, supply, installation, use or maintenance of the items it inspects and which supplies inspection services to its parent organization or to other parties, or to both, shall meet the type C requirements of Clause A.3.” Which organizations are referred to by the term “other parties”?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17020  ·  CLAUSE: 4.1.6  ·  TOPIC: Maintaining independence  


The term “other parties” means any organisation other than the parent organisation.


A government inspection body inspecting imported goods and locally manufactured goods at the request of customers is also involved in quality assurance of locally manufactured goods. Can this inspection body be categorized as A or C under ISO/IEC 17020:2012?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17020  ·  CLAUSE: 4.1.6  ·  TOPIC: Maintaining independence  

Answer: The criteria for Type A independence relates to the ‘items’ inspected. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what ‘items’ are inspected by this inspection body and if the inspection body is involved in any activities that may conflict with their independence of judgment and integrity in relation to those inspection activities. If this inspection body is only involved in inspection and no other activities, then provided it meets all of the other requirements in Annex A of ISO/IEC 17020:2012 it could be a Type A inspection body. If, however, the quality assurance activities of locally manufactured goods involve activities other than inspection, then it would be necessary to establish if any of those other activities are in conflict with their inspection activities.