Accreditation and Metrology Services Given a Boost in The Bahamas

As the newest standards bureau in the region, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is now well on the way to enhancing its offering of accreditation and measurement standardisation services with the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) recently.

Minister of Financial Services, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan, under whose portfolio the BBSQ resides, signed the documents on April 30, 2015, to establish the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, and to recognise the Bureau of Standards Jamaica’s (BSJ) Mass Metrology Laboratory as the Caribbean Reference Laboratory (CaRL) for Mass Metrology.

Accreditation, which is a third-party attestation, refers to the demonstration of competence in certification, inspection and testing, by a conformity assessment body. The CCA Scheme brings together such bodies for the purpose of mutual cooperation and collaboration toward facilitating trade in the Caribbean region and internationally. CROSQ coordinates the support services for these facilities.

Metrology, on the other hand, is the science of measurement; and the CaRL Scheme is aimed at providing economical and sustainable traceability in specific quantities by National Metrology Institutes (NMI) within the region. A CaRL is a metrology laboratory within a NMI or Designated Institute in the CARICOM region, recognised by CROSQ as a regional reference lab for a specific measurement quantity or magnitude within a defined scope.

The signing of the two documents have begun the process of moving the national standards body, BBSQ in The Bahamas, from its early conceptual phase into being the premier institution in the country for quality infrastructure services.

With the CCA Scheme in place, the BBSQ will be better able to access economical and readily available accreditation services through the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS); be able to facilitate the development of regional quality infrastructure as well as facilitate regional and international trade; provide avenues for manufacturers to expand their markets, as well as give them local access to internationally recognised conformity assessment services, among other benefits.

Being a signatory to the CaRL MOU for Mass Metrology will mean that the BBSQ will have access to calibrations at reduced cost from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its national reference mass standards. This will translate into a reduced cost for maintaining the traceability of mass measurements in The Bahamas. Additionally, the BBSQ will be able to access technical assistance from the BSJ mass metrology experts, which will prove especially important as the BBSQ now develops its capability in this area.

Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford was particularly heartened by the signing of the CaRL MOU between the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and the Government of The Bahamas. She noted that the role of the CaRL was to provide measurement traceability to the Caribbean region by serving as the ‘entry point’ of the highest measurement capability within the region characterised by having an international recognised quality management system, the smallest measurement uncertainty and highest technical capability in the region.

The completion of the CCA MOU will happen when the CROSQ Council meets in Barbados this week, from May 6 – 8, to set that scheme in motion and empower the Bahamian bureau as far as accreditation services are concerned.

“We have been working for quite some time to get the Bureau of Standards in The Bahamas up and running effectively and the signing of these MOUs demonstrate a commitment to making our country one of the regional leaders of quality infrastructure. We have been sensitizing Bahamians on the importance and benefits of standards, and also promoting and implementing quality services into everything that we do. Now, the Bureau has more power to begin to offer the services that our private and public sectors need to make them more competitive on regional and international markets.

“I would like to thank Minister Strachan for committing to the process all the way, as well as to the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) for lending the technical assistance to get us to this point, and their continued commitment to ensure that we are fully operational.  As the ‘new kid on the block’ as far as regional QI is concerned, we know a lot is expected and we will strive, harder than ever, to live up to those expectations,” said Dr. Ferguson-Bufford.

This move towards further development of the BBSQ has been made possible through funding by the European Union through the 10thEuropean Development Fund Economic Partnership Agreement Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, focusing on Technical Barriers to Trade.