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Essential elements of selection of a third party testing lab in apparel export

A definitive guide on selecting a third party laboratory for garment companies

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Apparel testing is essential before shipment to foreign countries like the US and EU. Selection of a suitable testing lab is required to get the right result. In order to achieve this, the lab has to equip themselves with equipment, calibration, proficiency testing, training etc. Such aspects have been critically reviewed in this paper.

Continuing Education

The laboratory management shall ensure the competence of all who operate specific equipment,

perform tests, evaluate results, and sign test reports. When using staff who are undergoing training, appropriate supervision shall be provided. Personnel performing specific tasks shall be qualified on the basis of appropriate education, training, experience and/or demonstrated skills, as required.

NOTE 1: In some technical areas (e.g. non-destructive testing) it may be required that the personnel performing certain tasks hold personnel certification. The laboratory is responsible for fulfilling specified personnel certification requirements. The requirements for personnel certification might be regulatory, included in the standards for the specific technical field, or required by the customer.

NOTE 2: The personnel responsible for the opinions and interpretation included in test reports should, in addition to the appropriate qualifications, training, experience and satisfactory knowledge of the testing carried out, also have:

  • Relevant knowledge of the technology used for the manufacturing of the items, materials, products, etc. tested, or the way they are used or intended to be used, and of the defects or degradations which may occur during or in service
  • Knowledge of the general requirements expressed in the legislation and standards
  • An understanding of the significance of deviations found with regard to the normal use of the items, materials, products, etc. concerned.
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The management of the laboratory shall formulate the goals with respect to the education, training

and skills of the laboratory personnel. The laboratory shall have a policy and procedures for identifying training needs and providing training of personnel. The training programme shall be relevant to the present and anticipated tasks of the laboratory. The effectiveness of the training actions taken shall be evaluated.

The laboratory shall use personnel who are employed by, or under contract to, the laboratory. Where contracted and additional technical and key support personnel are used, the laboratory shall ensure that such personnel are supervised and competent and that they work in accordance with the laboratory’s management system. The laboratory shall maintain current job descriptions for managerial, technical and key support personnel involved in tests and/or calibrations.

NOTE: Job descriptions can be defined in many ways. As a minimum, the following should be defined:

  • The responsibilities with respect to performing tests;
  • The responsibilities with respect to the planning of tests and evaluation of results;
  • The responsibilities for reporting opinions and interpretations;
  • The responsibilities with respect to method modification and development and validation of new methods;
  • Expertise and experience required;
  • Qualifications and training programmes;
  • Managerial duties.

The management shall authorize specific personnel to perform particular types of sampling and test, to issue test reports, to give opinions and interpretations and to operate particular types of equipment. The laboratory shall maintain records of the relevant authorization(s), competence, educational and professional qualifications, training, skills and experience of all technical personnel, including contracted personnel. This information shall be readily available and shall include the date on which authorization and/or competence is confirmed.

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