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Your Guide to Reading Standards and Finding Loop Holes

The laboratory shall, if relevant, to the extent necessary, maintain records of competence to read standards. Understood?

Deciphering these kinds of phrases in standards is not easy. Learning to read and understand them is like learning a new language. But once you get the hang of it, a whole new world of interpretation opens up.

But first, the basics:

‘Shall’ = ‘must’. This is a mandatory requirement. You do not have any option but to comply.

‘Should’ and ‘guidance’ = recommendations on how to address a requirement..

‘May’ and ‘can’ give you some idea what is considered good practice.

Then there are some more interesting words/phrases; the ones which give laboratories some wiggle room. Words and phrases such as:


‘Where appropriate’

‘To the extent necessary’

Look closely where these words or similar ones appear and use your common sense and interpretive power to figure out what the requirement means in the context of your industry. Maybe something you thought would be a lot of work can be done differently.

When you get good at reading and interpreting standards, you start seeing ways your system already meets standards – or parts that can be tweaked as opposed to having to create whole new procedures.

If you don’t have the time or desire to learn the language of standards but still want to reap the benefits…contact us at MAS Management Systems!

We can help you:

  • Build or revise your quality system to be simple and practical
  • Liaise with NATA on your behalf
  • Provide tailored training in compliance standards, Quality Management systems, internal audits, measurement uncertainty and more
  • Prepare for and attend your NATA audit so it will run smoothly.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone!

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