- Operational quality assurance
The voluntary testing and certification system of the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is based on the individual responsibility of the manufacturers throughout the textile processing chain. With their declaration of conformity the companies make a legally binding undertaking that the representative samples tested by the relevant institute will correspond to the articles from current production in terms of quality for the duration of the OEKO-TEX® certificate.
A prerequisite for awarding of the certificate is successful evidence of a quality assurance system which guarantees the processing techniques, dyestuffs and auxiliaries, recipes and material compositions stipulated in the application for certification on an ongoing basis.
If the licence holder works with other companies or importers, he may delegate parts of the quality assurance to these parties. However, these must also prove that they have taken the necessary measures to ensure the human ecological quality of product in their company.
If a qualitative change is made to a certified product by altering the processing techniques, using new recipes or different dyestuffs and auxiliaries, the textile must be retested by the appropriate test institute and its properties documented in an extended certificate.
- Quality management of the OEKO-TEX® Association
The International OEKO-TEX® Association contributes to product safety, guaranteed standard of testing and the protection of the registered OEKO-TEX® test label by means of various measures. These include:
- A globally uniform testing system, as defined in the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 (test procedures) and the internal guide book
- Training and the exchange of knowledge and experience at regular technical meetings and within expert bodies with representatives from all authorised test institutes
- Research and the development of criteria
- Round-robin tests between the test institutes
- Audits of the test institutes carried out by representatives of the International OEKO-TEX® Association to monitor the quality of testing and provide training
- Company audits to ensure optimum certification process and targeted support for operational quality assurance
- Company audits
To provide targeted support for the operational quality assurance of the companies involved in the OEKO-TEX® system worldwide, the OEKO-TEX® member institutes carry out a company audit at the applying company as a mandatory part of every certification process.
The visits at the company facilities provide the auditors with an opportunity to gain an overview of the company situation and offer systematic advice on frequently occurring questions and problems. This includes for example information about the selection of suitable sample materials, support for compiling article group descriptions on the certificate as well as advice with respect to the correct and complete declaration of dyes, auxiliary agents and chemicals used taking into account raw materials and ingredients.
In addition to training for the quality managers responsible for implementing the required OEKO-TEX® criteria the companies receive detailed advice from the auditors concerning correct and legal use of the OEKO-TEX® label for product identification and other marketing and sales purposes, if required.
The company monitoring is carried out shortly before or after issuing of the certificate and is repeated every three years.
- Control tests
The International OEKO-TEX® Association finances product controls on at least 20% of all certificates issued every year.
The authorised member institutes purchase products with the OEKO-TEX® label freely available in the shops and check whether the human ecological properties of the products correspond to the quality of the original test samples in accordance with the declaration of conformity issued by the manufacturer.
Tests on products from preliminary stages are carried out on sample materials submitted by the manufacturers.
In the event of non-compliance with the required criteria the licence holder in question is immediately requested by the relevant OEKO-TEX® institute to remedy the defects identified as soon as possible and to submit samples from the improved production for re-testing.
Repeated irregularities during product checks could result in the withdrawal of the existing OEKO-TEX® certificate.
- Company checks
In addition to the product controls on the market the International OEKO-TEX® Association also employs independent auditors who carry out unannounced site inspections at companies with OEKO-TEX® certification throughout the world.
They verify on site whether the production conditions meet the requirements of STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and if necessary provide companies with advice on how to optimise their existing quality assurance system.
- Trademark protection
As the label "Confidence in Textiles - tested for harmful substances according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®“ is so prevalent and well-known, effective protection of the registered trademark rights is necessary.
If any irregularities are found with the certified products during control tests, site inspections and market observations by the authorised OEKO-TEX® member institutes this can result in the withdrawal of the existing certificate.
This applies in particular in the following cases:
- The information given by the manufacturer relating to the quality of the randomly tested goods does not correspond to the test sample.
- The manufacturer has not informed the relevant test institute of the International OEKO-TEX® Association in good time or at all of a technical change to his certified products.
- The labelling of the certified textile product does not correspond to the requirements of the standard. Forgery and misuse of the trademark are an offence and will be pursued by the OEKO-TEX® Association under civil and criminal law.