Benefits of certification for an SME

Certification allows businesses to show that they are complying with the norms and standards in force for the production of their products and the provision of their services. Thanks to certification, individuals can provide proof that they have the competence defined in norms and standards and the knowledge necessary for specific scopes and tasks. 

In the event of product certification, production processes, including commercial relations, are often included in the assessment. If this proof is provided, it will be documented by the issuance of a certificate or attestation.

Certificates are usually issued for a specified term and verified, then revised on the basis of standards/norms. These checks are carried out by certification bodies. These bodies are often accredited for these tasks, or the accreditation may even be required by law.

Accreditation means formal recognition of a body's technical and organizational competence to provide a specific service, defined in the scope of the accreditation. Competence is the key to transparency, trust and comparability. In Switzerland, nationally and internationally recognized accreditations for certification bodies are exclusively granted by the Swiss Accreditation Service SAS which is attached to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. 

There are three types of certification:

  1. Management system certification
    (accredited certification bodies meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17021-1)
  2. Certification of persons
    (accredited certification bodies meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17024)
  3. Certification of products, processes and services
    (accredited certification bodies meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17065)

The main areas of certification in the three types of certification mentioned above include (incidentally, if available, the fundamental norms or standards of a certification in the sector concerned. The most recent version of these standards is generally available from the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV):

Management system certification

  • Quality management systems (ISO 9001)
  • Environmental management systems (ISO 14001)
  • Energy management systems (ISO 50001)
  • Occupational health and safety management systems (BS OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001 respectively)
  • Food safety management systems (ISO 22000, or for example, International Food Standard IFS or Marine Stewardship Council MSC, etc.)
  • Information technology management systems (ISO/IEC 20000)
  • Information security management systems (ISO/IEC 27001, or British Standards BS 7799)

Certification of persons

  • Auditors (ISO 19011)
  • Occupational safety specialists (Order on prevention of accidents, OPA)
  • Fire protection specialists (AEAI directives)
  • Non-destructive testing personnel (SN EN ISO 9712)
  • Welders and solderers (various standards)
  • Project managers and employees in information technology and the communication sector (HERMES)

Certification of products, processes and services

  • Organic agricultural products and resulting food (Order on organic agriculture, Bio Suisse respectively)
  • Food and animal feeds (Global Standard for Food Safety (BRC), International Food Standard (IFS), GlobalGAP, IP-Suisse, etc.)
  • Personal protective equipment (Directive 89/686/EEC)
  • Type-examination procedure in the mechanical engineering sector (Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC)
  • Type-examination procedure in the low-voltage electrical equipment sector (Directive 2006/95/EC)
  • Building products for various sectors (Order on building products, OPCo)
  • Cooking equipment, catering equipment, hot water appliances, washing machines, heating equipment, etc. (various European standards)
  • Protective devices and systems intended to be used in explosive atmospheres (RS 734.6 OSPEX)

Source: Swiss Accreditation Service SAS, last modified: June 29, 2016


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Certification
Procedure enabling a third-party body to claim in writing that a management system, person, product, process or service conforms to an established standard.

Last modification 30.07.2018

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