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Quality Assurance

ISO-9001 Quality management system

BSI Registered

The ISO-9001 standard is a general management standard applicable to a broad range of organisations. It does not say anything specifically about radiocarbon or indeed scientific measurements. The reason for using such a standard is that it enables the unit to learn from the best practice of management in commercial organisations. All of its elements are designed to help maintain high standards over a prolonged period and learn from problems when they arise.

ORAU has been accredited by the British Standards Institution for the provision of radiocarbon measurements.

The standard has implications for all aspects of the Unit's operation and some aspects of the system are outlined below.

Weighing samples

Documentation and instructions

All documents and instructional documents used by the unit are maintained centrally on our computer network. Changes are documented so that we can always find out exactly when procedures changed and why.

This approach also ensures that all members of the staff carry out the various stages of the dating process in essentially the same way, ensuring consistency and long term reproducibility.

Calibration and testing of equipment

All equipment is calibrated and/or tested regularly to ensure that it is operating satisfactorily. We also ensure that all measurements are directly traceable to international standards.


All staff involved in the measurement process are trained in the activities they perform by experienced members of the laboratory and using the centrally documented instructions.


Naturally, with such a complex process problems do occur from time to time. There is a mechanism for recording problems and lessons learnt from them are incorporated into revised instructions or procedures.


Regular meetings held within the unit deal with the overall management on different levels:


Regular internal audits are conducted to ensure that everything is being done in the way that it should. Every six months the unit is externally audited by the BSI.


Details of ISO-9001 accreditation: