Standards bureau stays abreast of developments


31-March-2012

Marcus Morel testing accuracy of a pressure gauge using a deadweight tester

This year it has already got new equipment, adding to those it acquired last year, when it visibly played key roles in the country and region.

To mark its 2011 achievements the SBS has contributed the following feature, illustrated here with pictures taken by our photographer, Louis Toussaint.

The bureau’s operations are overseen by a board currently headed by Dr Rolph Payet and made up of eight members appointed by the minister for finance.

Following the ministry’s policy on the Reclassification and Standardisation of Budget Dependent Public Bodies, the bureau has been classified as a category 2 regulatory body. This means it is fully budget dependent and negotiates directly with the ministry on its budget needs and all revenue and expenditures are reported separately in the budget and revenue is paid directly to the consolidated funds.

The bureau will also be audited by the auditor general in line with Article 158 of the Constitution.
The bureau is focused on capacity building to deliver high quality services in the areas of standardisation, metrology, testing, fish inspection & quality control and certification.

In 2011, the bureau maintained the thrust and dynamism in the global and regional scenarios and exhibited much progress in various key areas. It continued to gain recognition in the regional community as it represents the country in all standardisation, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology forums such as in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), South African Development Community (SADC) and the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

The bureau has maintained its correspondent membership to the ISO and the Organisation Internationale de Métrologie Légale, affiliate membership of the International Economic Commission, associate member of the Comité Général de Poids et Mesures of the Bureau International de Poids et Mesures. The Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement Mutual Recognition arrangement has been signed and the SBS endeavours to have its calibration and measurement capabilities internationally recognised.

Recognition sought and got

In 2011, the bureau forged ahead with its accreditation process in order to gain recognition for its competence in testing and calibration activities. Early in March 2011, the National Metrology Laboratory got its accreditation certificate for mass calibration by the chief executive of the SADC Accreditation Service (SADCAS)
The surveillance assessment conducted in the mass calibration laboratory by SADCAS jointly with the South African National Accreditation Service (SANAS) in October 2011 recommended continued accreditation status to the laboratory under the ISO/IEC 17025 standard.

Mervin Pompée and Brigitte Pool looking for traces of histamine in canned tuna     Bruno Reddy and Kevin Roseline using a US $28,000 hydraulic test machine to test gas cylinders

The environmental laboratory was accredited by SADCAS/SANAS and received their accreditation certificate for five parameters: pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Conductivity and Sulphate.

From March 9 to 17, 2011, two experts from the Health & Consumers Directorate-General of the European Commission did a Food and Veterinary Office audit on the Fish Inspection & Quality Control Unit of the SBS – the Competent Authority for Seychelles. The purpose of this audit was to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union. This mission was a success. The system satisfied the EU that Seychelles can satisfactorily certify export of fish and fishery products to the EU markets.

There were no rapid alerts published by the EU against any export of fish from Seychelles in 2011.
In pursuit of quality, the SBS makes it its objective to deliver to a high standard. The head of the EU delegation to Seychelles in February 2011 Alessandro Mariani visited SBS and in a press conference, he said although he is not a technical expert in the area of standards, he is confident that SBS ensures the highest quality of food for both local and overseas markets.

Under the EU/African Caribbean Pacific Fisheries Partnership Agreement, the SBS got 100,000 euros to upgrade the fish testing laboratories and the fish inspection and quality control activities to meet the EU standard requirements.

Important guests

In November 2011, the SBS received 25 delegates from the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries who were eager to find out how the SBS had benefitted under the Project Strengthening of Fisheries Products (SFP) which was launched in 2003 under four modules where the SBS got much support in the form of consultancy to train the laboratory personnel, equipment to upgrade the laboratories and technical help on the competent authority’s inspection and certification system to ensure it achieved equivalence of EU regulations.

Technicians Hazel Thomkin and Ferdinand Cadeau grading aggregate through the Sieving Test in the construction materials laboratory Principal chemist Vivian Radegonde testing for heavy metals using a 67,000 euro Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer

With the acquisition of a new Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer from the EU, a new laboratory was set up to house this expensive and state-of-the-art equipment to test heavy metals in fish and water – a requirement for export of fish to the EU – and also to ensure the quality of local products.

In a quality management system environment, training is considered very important. Personnel need to be constantly trained and upgraded so as to get new skills and knowledge in order to maintain a high level of professionalism and service in accordance with the needs and demands of the current situation. In 2011, the SBS organised two training workshops to give skills and share knowledge with its staff in a five-day training on ISO/IEC 17025 requirements and internal auditing with an external trainer run by the Southern African Development Community Accreditation Service.

This standard sets the requirements for accreditation for calibration and testing laboratories. The second workshop was a visioning exercise to set the new vision for the SBS and also to discuss the importance of good organisational culture.

A third workshop was organised for laboratory analysts from various work-places focusing on ways to improve the quality of analyses. Some 40 analysts from the SBS, departments of health and environment, the Seychelles Agricultural Agency and business ventures such as agro-industries and the Indian Ocean Tuna took part in the workshop which was run by a resource person from the Kenya Bureau of Standards. The workshop was sponsored by the German Federal Institute of Metrology.

Workshop on fish use

In collaboration with the Fish Utilisation and Marketing Service, Fish Products and Industry Division of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the SBS hosted the third meeting on Fish Technology Utilisation and Quality Assurance in Africa. The workshop was held at the International Conference Centre between November 22 and 25, 2011. It was addressed by the then Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry Peter Sinon, who expressed the pride of Seychelles in hosting the meeting.

Jeanne Onezime checking for germs in a food sampleAfter recalling the context of the meeting, he underscored the significance of fisheries to the country – the second pillar of the economy only next to tourism and in terms of food security – Seychelles being one of the major per capita fish consumption nations. The meeting proposed several recommendations to the FAO, its Africa member countries and institutes involved in fish utilisation in Africa.

The World Accreditation Day was celebrated in June under the theme “Accreditation Supporting the Work of Regulators”. SBS organised a half-day conference to create awareness of the importance of accreditation.

World Standards Day was celebrated under the theme ‘International Standards – Creating Confidence Globally’. A half-day seminar was organised where various institutions made presentations on how international standards have helped to give them the cutting edge. The seminar saw presentations from the National Council for Children which is ISO 9001 certified, the Lemuria Hotel which is ISO 22000 certified, the Trade Division explained market access through international standards and the SBS presented the benefits of accreditation to the ISO 17025. This was also an opportunity for the SBS to recognise and show its appreciation to those people who had contributed to standardisation in Seychelles. Those past chairpersons of technical committees got trophies and a certificate in appreciation of their valuable contribution to standard development.

The SBS has positioned itself as a service provision organisation and is focused on meeting the needs of its customers in the areas of standardisation, certification, metrology and testing. All the service delivery processes have been identified and documented as per the requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System. This system gives a formal framework for process improvements and quality standards. It provides a set of procedures that cover all key processes to ensure they are effective. These processes are managed and controlled to ensure delivery of high quality results to satisfy the requirements of the customers.

The surveillance visit conducted by BMTRADA – the certification body in the United Kingdom that granted the ISO 9001 certification to SBS since December 1996 – in November 2011 recommended continued certification to ISO 9001:2008.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented to the SBS a donation of a Micro-Star Reader System from the International Atomic Energy Agency. This equipment will allow the SBS to provide dosimeter service locally to stakeholders exposed to ionizing radiation both in the radioactive and clinical dose measurement. Such a service will help the Ministry of Health to minimise costs, time and also enhance our knowledge in terms of radiation measurements in Seychelles. Prior to the installation of the dosimetry laboratory, dosimeters were being sent overseas to be read or measured.

SBS’ new vision

A new vision was spelled out for the SBS as the previous one was set with a time frame. As a vision is a future state never quite achieved, the SBS management adopted the following vision which was approved by the board:

“To be the recognised centre of excellence for the provision of standardisation and conformity assessment services to facilitate trade and industry and deliver quality and confidence.”

All things considered, 2011 was a challenging year. The cooperation and support of the board and the then Ministry of Investment, Natural Resources & Industry together with the strong team within the SBS contributed to the successful implementation of the various programmes and the achievement of the 2011 objectives.

The Seychelles Bureau of Standards wishes to thank all the local and international partners and stakeholders who helped in one way or another during 2011. A special word of thanks goes to the EU/ACP for the fisheries development grant, Vijay Construction for undertaking part of the construction of the trace element analysis laboratory free of cost, the Seychelles Fishing Authority for acting as the custodian of the fisheries grant and the department of public administration for help and guidance in drafting the scheme of service.

The way forward is to build a solid national quality infrastructure that is sustainable, effective and efficient with its output internationally recognised.

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