You are here:

What is it like to be a technical assessor?

Lars André Dahle sitting by a desk
“As a technical assessor for Norwegian Accreditation, it is exciting to follow how the industry develops, and to keep in touch with different fields of expertise,” says Lars André Dahle. He is an expert within his subject area, and here he shares some of his background and reasons for being a technical assessor.

Norwegian Accreditation assesses compliance within several different areas of competence. To assist in the assessment of organizations applying for accreditation or already are accredited, Norwegian Accreditation needs help from experts in that each field.

An expert’s background 

Lars André Dahle is an early retiree, who does assignments for Norwegian Accreditation. Originally from Moss, he now lives in Trondheim. Lars André is educated as a civil engineer within Marine Engineering at NTH, now NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology).  

In the 80’s and 90’s he worked as a researcher and research leader in MARINTEK (Norwegian Institute of Marine Engineering AS). He says his career choice came as a result of daily looking out the window to Moss verft (shipyard). Therefore, he chose to become a ship engineer, and had a year of practice at the shipyard before moving to Trondheim to study.  

“This was at the beginning of the oil age, and the study changed name to Marine Engineering before I graduated. By then most of the shipyards around Oslo was discontinued, and I enjoyed Trondheim so much I decided to stay and pursue a career as a researcher,” Lars André says.

Developed a unit for studying aquaculture technology 

“In the beginning, I worked with ships and offshore constructions, but as early as in 1985 I became interested in the “new” aquaculture industry. The industry had several technological challenges, and it was interesting for me to work with people with very different backgrounds. I became responsible for developing a unit for aquaculture technology (floating facilities), a unit later incorporated in SINTEF Ocean,” Lars André says. 

Head of the Escape Commission 

After a few years of developing strategies and technology for tropical species in Southeast Asia, he continued as a researcher and in charge of Trøndelag region of Norwegian Research Council. At the same time, he was appointed by the Norwegian government as head of the Escape Commission for Aquaculture (RKA). The commission had as goal to survey escaping salmon and make suggestions to the Directorate of Fisheries of how to reduce the environmentally damaging escaping of fish from the fish farms. When the Directorate of Fisheries developed its own technology unit, Lars André Dahle was leading a group of experts assisting the directorate with technical tasks.

Why did you want to be a technical assessor? 

“Before I was appointed to lead the Escape commission, the Directorate of Fisheries had in 2004 declared the world’s first regulation to reduce the number of escaping fish. The regulation contained a demand that organizations which were to issue product and plant certificates had to be accredited. I was contacted by a lead assessor in Norwegian Accreditation and asked to become a technical assessor. That was a challenge I could not refuse,” Lars André says enthusiastically.  

What does a technical assessor do? 

Lars André Dahle says that today there are more demands for accreditation for organizations in regard to establishment and operation of fish farms. “I am a technical assessor for conducting mooring analyses, issuance of product certificates and plant certificates, in accordance with requirements in the regulation and the standards this refers to. This implies assessing of the competence within the organization, use of different calculation programs, ability to report in accordance with the requirements, and conduct inspections of new and used components and plants,” he says.  

A rapid development of the aquaculture industry 

Lars André highlights that the aquaculture industry has been, and still is, evolving rapidly both in terms of development and operation of new facilities. Escaping fish is seen as a big environmental problem, and a damage to wild fish. “To work with this problem is both challenging and, not least, meaningful,” he says.  

Four people with work clothing standing at a boat   

A new regulation is about to be issued 

The technical development has uncovered a need for a new, technical standard for floating fish farms. “I worked with this standard when I was affiliated with the Directorate of Fisheries, and I am looking forward to the standard being implemented,” he says optimistically. He mentions that there will be a new regulation in this area, and that he is excited to see the scope of any requirements for accreditation.   

At the same time, he acknowledges that it can be challenging when many accredited organizations have different scopes of accreditation. “It might be demanding to treat all equally and at the same time,” he says. 

Looking forward to on site assessments again 

The covid pandemic has resulted in assessments being carried out electronically. Lars André finds it far more exhausting and challenging to perform assessments remotely, than on site assessments. “We lose some of the body language, and digital assessments more often lead to misunderstandings,” he says. He misses the physical assessments where he could visit plants and workshops.   

To compensate for all the theoretical work, Lars André has both designed and build a cabin in the mountains and redecorated a house. With an interest in cooking and hiking, his days are fully booked and variated, even with all current limitations in place.  

Read more about how to become a technical assessor for Norwegian Accreditation.