CLSAB Process for Accreditation of Lumber Grading Agencies

The CLSAB is responsible for accrediting all Canadian Lumber Grading Agencies. An Agency may be accredited to supervise and grade stamp in one or more of the following categories:

  • visually graded lumber
  • agency certified lumber
  • machine stress-graded lumber (MSR/MEL)
  • fingerjoined lumber
  • Heat Treatment (HT)
  • Special Product Standards
  • Programs where CLSAB has been provided the delegated authority:
    • Australian Quarantine Assurance Program (AQAP)
    • Canadian Debark and Grub Hole Control Program (CDGHCP)
    • CE Marking

Prior to accreditation, each Lumber Grading Agency is examined in accordance with the CLSAB regulations and best practices. The review includes:

  • qualifications of management and inspectors
  • competence and reliability
  • independence
  • financial stability
  • procedures for certifying and supervising graders, on-site inspections, and record keeping

The Lumber Grading Agency must demonstrate that it is not controlled by any company or individual whose products are subject to its inspections.

As part of the accreditation process, the Lumber Grading Agency signs an agreement with CLSAB setting out its policies and procedures. These must meet CLSAB criteria and requirements, including:

  • procedures for training and certifying graders
  • acceptable performance by graders
  • procedures for supervising graders
  • controls on use and disposal of grade stamps
  • CLSAB’s authority to check lumber wherever it may be located
  • content and timing of Agency reports to CLSAB
  • quality control requirements of grade stamp licensing agreements between the Lumber Grading Agency and a facility
  • inspections conducted by the Lumber Grading Agency at least monthly at each facility to ensure that:
    • the lumber meets all requirements of the grade rule and, where applicable, the product standard
    • the grade stamp is legible and well presented
    • where applicable, machine testing is being carried out correctly
    • required records are being maintained
  • disciplinary actions the Agency will take against the facility if necessary.  These range from holding and regrading lumber and issuing warnings, to suspending or revoking the Grade Stamp Licensing Agreement between the facility and the Agency)

Lumber grading is based on a number of factors, such as the straightness of grain, knot sizes and location, etc. From time to time, qualified graders will have slight differences of opinion – for example, whether a particular knot in a piece of lumber would qualify that piece as a No.1 grade or a No.2 grade. To allow for these differences of opinion between certified graders, CLSAB regulations recognize small variations between the initial grading of lumber and one given later during an inspection by the Lumber Grading Agency or CLSAB.

If an accredited Lumber Grading Agency inspector finds that mill-graded lumber is below standard, that lumber must be held for Agency supervised regrading. The lumber will not be released for shipment until it meets the applicable standards. If an Agency finds three loads with more than 5% of the pieces below standard – or any one item with 7.5% of the pieces below standard – CLSAB requires the Agency to regrade the lumber held, and to increase its inspections at the mill until grading returns to acceptable standards.