Achieving electrical product safety compliance in the United States can be a challenge as requirements are specified at the federal and local level. Federal law governs electrical equipment utilized in the workplace, while local building code officials enforce local standards ordinances and laws pertinent to a given occupancy.
On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires various types of products, devices, assemblies, or systems that are used in the workplace, to be tested and certified by a third-party organization designated as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL).
Test standards that have been determined to be appropriate for use under OSHA’s NRTL Program include ANSI, IEEE, NEMA, CSA, and UL standards. Because of their involvement in standard writing, the need for UL approvals for product safety compliance is actually a common misconception in the industry. While UL does coordinate standards writing, they are only one of several NRTLs for testing and certification.
30 years ago, MET Labs was recognized by OSHA as the first NRTL and is one of the certification industry’s most widely known and respected marks (MET Mark). MET can test your products to the relevant UL testing standards and accordingly certify under the NRTL program, demonstrating that your product complies with national product safety requirements.
Why is NRTL Certification Important?
NRTL certification provides clear evidence that your electrical and electronic products comply with the required standards of the North American market. The MET Mark on your product indicates national compliance by virtue of MET’s equivalent accreditations to UL and CSA. The MET mark clearly indicates compliance to US and Canadian requirements.
At the client’s option, the MET mark can specify the applicable UL and/or CSA standard to which the product complies. The MET Mark for product safety is accepted throughout the United States and Canada. For Canada, MET was one of the first labs to be fully accepted by the Standards Council of Canada as a Certification Body. The MET-c Mark is recognized by the Standards Council of Canada and provincial authorities throughout Canada. In addition, MET is one of the few labs in the US with international recognition as a National Certification body (NCB) as part of the IECEE CB scheme that includes 50 countries.
What is a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)?
OSHA created the NRTL program to ensure that certain types of equipment be tested and certified for safe use in the workplace. OSHA’s NRTL regulations were established in 1988. MET sued OSHA three times which eventually resulted in the creation of a set of criteria which a lab could prove itself to be worthy of NRTL status. MET became the first organization to become recognized as a NRTL in 1989.
A Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) is a private-sector organization that OSHA has recognized as meeting the legal requirements to perform testing and certification of products using consensus based test standards. NRTL recognition is an acknowledgment that an organization has necessary qualifications to perform safety testing and certification of the specific products covered within its scope of recognition. As a result, products that have been properly certified by the NRTL, are acceptable to OSHA for use in the workplace.
What’s the difference between the UL and MET Marks?
The UL and MET marks both indicate that the product has met the minimum requirements of the applicable safety standards. Additionally, both marks validate the product’s continued compliance to these standards as evidenced by periodic factory follow-up inspections. 30 years ago, MET broke the UL monopoly for product safety testing & certification in the United States becoming the first OSHA-licensed Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) in the U.S. The main difference between these two marks is with the level of involvement and partnership between the manufacturer and the test lab.