Several years ago, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) assembled a collaborative team from industry, certifying bodies, and NIJ to address the issue of body armor safety. As a result of this multi-year collaboration, NIJ has decided to increase the amount of testing needed for body armor to meet their standards. This includes more extensive testing, environmental testing, and more frequent testing. In addition, they have developed BA 9000, a body armor quality management standard.
BA 9000 is an extension of ISO 9001, a popular quality management standard. Manufacturers who wish to become BA 9000 certified must comply with additional requirements beyond ISO 9001 specific to body armor manufacturing. While this standard is not required, it is recommended by the NIJ. As of the 1st Quarter of 2010, BA 9000 has not been officially released. While the details are not final, here are some tentative key points:
- Manufacturers must provide procedures for communicating with the Compliance Testing Program (CTP).
- Manufacturers must provide unique identification for each piece of the body armor to ensure accountability.
- Work areas must be managed in order to reduce negative effects on body armor.
- Product testing must be done at CTP approved labs, which need to be ISO 17025 compliant.
Currently, BA 9000 only applies to manufacturers who manufacture body armor vests for municipalities, but this standard may eventually extend to all body armor, hard and soft, created for the both the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense.
While certification to BA 9000 is not mandated, there are some clear benefits. These include:
- Reduced Testing — For manufacturers who are BA 9000 certified, testing requirements will be cut in half.
- Competitive Advantage — Certification to a standard such as BA 9000 is an indicator of a quality product. This is a great advantage in an industry where quality could be the difference between life and death.
The standard also requires a separate certification from ISO 9001, but those who already have a quality management system in place will usually find the BA 9000 certification process easier.
Perry Johnson Registrars has a solid foundation for training and certification of ISO 9001. Building on this extensive experience, we are ready to meet your BA 9000 certification needs.