Tag: product safety

AHJs Use NFPA 790 & 791 to Qualify Labs for Electrical Equipment Field Evaluations

by admin on Oct.14, 2014, under Product Safety

Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) in the United States have typically used the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70, as the basis for approving electrical equipment installations in the United Sates. Much of the Code relies on having products manufactured and certified by a recognized testing laboratory to consensus-based U.S. product safety standards.

In Canada, the AHJs use the locally adopted Code and rely on products certified to that country’s adopted product safety standards.

However, this approach has historically proved challenging for AHJs, so industry organizations have created additional guidance documents.  Here is a short history of this effort:

2003 – The American Council for Electrical Safety (ACES) publishes the Recommended Practice and Procedures for Unlabeled Electrical Equipment Evaluation.  It became the de facto guide for delivering field evaluations.
2005 – ACES approves the Recommended Competency Guidelines for Third-Party Field Evaluation Bodies.  It uses ISO Guide 65 as its foundation with input from ISO/IEC 17020.
2006 – The International Accreditation Service (IAS), a subsidiary of the International Code Council (ICC), issues AC 354, Accreditation Criteria for Field Evaluation of Unlisted Electrical Equipment.
2008 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) forms the Technical Committee for Electrical Equipment Evaluation (EEE).
2011 – The 2012 editions of NFPA 790, Standard for Competency of Third-Party Field Evaluation Bodies and NFPA 791, Recommended Practice and Procedures for Unlabeled Electrical Equipment Evaluation — are adopted.
2013 – IAS adopts an updated AC 354 that references NFPA 790 & 791.
2013 – The 2014 editions of ANSI/NFPA 790 and ANSI/NFPA 791 are issued.

NFPA 790 and NFPA 791 provide AHJs with the ability to qualify who can complete field evaluations for electrical products.  Read more about what is specified in these standards in a previous Compliance Today blog post.  

MET Labs is one of just a few agencies that operates a NFPA 790 & 791 Quality Management System in addition to being NRTL- and SCC-accredited.  Contact us for a free field evaluation quotation.

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Product Safety Professionals Meet at ICPHSO to Discuss Changes in 2014

by admin on Feb.28, 2014, under Product Safety

This week, the nation’s top product safety organization – ICPHSO – is meeting for the 21st time, at its 2014 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium in Orlando, FL.  MET Labs is participating as an exhibitor and sponsor. 

George Borlase

There were a number of interesting sessions on product safety regulations, compliance, and legal issues.  George Borlase, Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Assistant Executive Director for Hazard Identification and Reduction, led a session on “CPSC Activities in 2014.”  Here are the highlights of his presentation:

Sequestration is officially over.  During the mandatory 5% cut, CPSC experienced a decrease in funding of $6M.  CPSC’s FY 2014 appropriation is $117M, equaling the agency’s full request, a rare feat in Washington, D.C.

So, CPSC is planning these changes in 2014:

  • Workforce growth
  • Full funding in Consumer Product Safety Risk Management System and IT infrastructure
  • Full investment in nanotechnology research agreements
  • Full investment in lab equipment recapitalization
  • Continue import surveillance Risk Assessment Methodology pilot

Ongoing CPSC rulemakings include fuel gels, rare earth magnets, and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

A priority for CPSC is deeper engagement in voluntary standards in these areas:

  • CPSIA Section 104 durable products
  • Electrical equipment
  • Gas-powered appliances, to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and deaths from portable generators

The voluntary electrical equipment standards are concentrated on products that cause fires, including kitchen ranges, clothes dryers, space heaters, and power cords (the mechanical properties of insulation).

MET is expert in electrical/electronic product compliance and performance testing and certification.  Contact us for a quick quote for an upcoming testing requirement, or attend one of our Compliance College seminars or webinars.

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IT Equipment Compliance to IEC 60950 for Taiwan BSMI Requires Additional I/O Port Testing

by admin on Nov.25, 2013, under China, Product Safety

For a manufacturer looking to add Taiwan to its information technology equipment homologations program, a BSMI approval is required.  Therefore, testing supplemental to typical IEC 60950 certification is necessary. 

Standard compliance with IEC 60950 allows for the waiver of testing of I/O ports if they are sourced from a SELV (safety extra low-voltage) and/or power limited circuit. Most data and communication ports, like USB, video, and Ethernet, are sourced from these type of circuits.  IEC 60950 says there is no need to prove via testing what is confirmed by engineering evaluation.

From BSMI’s perspective, they never know if and how the end user will misuse and connect improper devices to these ports, so they assume the worst case scenario and require all I/O ports be tested.  BSMI references standard CNS 14336 for this.

Another important note: The power supply will also require additional testing if it doesn’t already have BSMI certification.  The end product manufacturer should: 

  • Request the BSMI certificate from the power supply vendor/manufacturer
  • If this is not available, request the power supply vendor/manufacturer to submit an amended CB scheme report covering the additional testing

MET Labs is experienced in helping major IT equipment manufacturers with their international approvals and global homologations programs.  Contact us for a free quote, or submit a question to Pat, our electrical product compliance expert.

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CCC Certification for Product Safety & EMC Required for China Market Entry

by admin on Aug.21, 2013, under China, EMC, Product Safety

China is fast becoming the largest consumer market in the world, and for many products, China Compulsory Certification (CCC) is necessary for manufacturers to tap this market.

Certification Bodies
There are three main certification bodies (CBs) for electronic equipment:

  • China Quality Certification Center (CQC) – issues all electronic equipment CCC certificates
  • China Information Security Certification Center (ISCCC) – issues ITE CCC certificates
  • China Electronics Standardization Institute (CESI) – issues A/V CCC certificates

Process
An application is submitted to one of the certification bodies mentioned above. Once the application is accepted, the manufacturer has samples tested at an accredited lab in China. When the product passes, the test report is issued by the test lab and reviewed by the certification body.  If the CB is satisfied with the test report and the manufacturer passes an initial factory inspection, the report will be approved and the CCC certificate will be released.

The CCC certificate is generally valid for five years and requires follow-up inspections that verify quality control and product consistency.

Standards
CCC certification is to Chinese national standards called Guobiao or GB standards. Usually the GB standard is harmonized to an IEC standard. For example for ITE, GB4943 is harmonized to IEC60950 for product safety; GB17625 (updated to GB17625.1-2012 on July 1, 2013) is harmonized to IEC61000-3-2 and GB9254 is harmonized to IEC/CISPR 22 for electromagnetic compatibility. There are some minor national deviations like ratings, altitude or tropical zone requirements.  (Read more about recent changes to GB8898 Audio, Video and Similar Electronic Apparatus – Safety Requirements and GB4943.1 Safety of Information Technology Equipment.)

Generally, if you can pass the IEC standard, you should be OK to pass the CCC test.  Manufacturers can save time and reduce cost by transferring a CB report to a CCC report.

MET Labs has experience helping manufacturers obtain CCC certification.  MET’s China operations are based in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.  Contact MET China or MET U.S. for more information about CCC certification.

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Amendment 2 of IEC 60950-1 Edition 2 Has a Few Notable Changes from Amendment 1

by admin on Aug.12, 2013, under Product Safety

Amendment No. 2 to IEC 60950-1 Second Edition, Safety of Information Technology Equipment, was published in May 2013.  The differences as compared to Amendment 1 (and UL 60950-1 2nd Edition) are mostly minor, but there are a few notable changes.

Note that IEC Technical Committee (TC) 108 has made a commitment to limit revisions to IEC 60950-1 and concentrate its work and effort on IEC 62368-1, Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment – Part 1: Safety requirements, the Standard that will eventually replace IEC 60065 (AV Equipment) and IEC 60950-1 (ICT Equipment) (See our FAQs regarding 62368-1 post).  Therefore, most of these changes were adopted to allow for continued effective application of IEC 60950-1 during the transition.

The CSA/UL version of 60950-1 based on Amendment No. 2 likely will be published by mid-year 2014.

Following are the three notable changes, one less onerous, two potentially more onerous.

Clause 4 (Physical Requirements)
Sub-clause 4.3.8 (Batteries) now includes a reference to IEC 62133 for portable secondary sealed cells and batteries (other than button) containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolyte, which includes Lithium-Ion. Also, the criteria for overcharging of a rechargeable battery were modified to reflect some of the work done on IEC 62368-1 to make a more realistic test condition.

The new IEC 62133 requirement could have a considerable negative impact on manufacturers who were able to use IEC 60950-1 for such batteries in the past, although it is muted by the existing U.S. and Canada National Difference requiring UL 2054 for most of these same types of batteries.

Clause 7 (Connection to Cable Distribution Systems)
Sub-clause 7.4.1 (General) now allows for similar protection of TNV-1 circuits as is currently allowed in 7.3, and therefore such circuits do not need to be subjected to voltage surge test in 7.4.2 or impulse test in 7.4.3.

This change provides additional design options for equipment connected to the cable distribution network and involving SELV voltage levels and that are intended to be earthed on the secondary side.

Annex Q – Voltage Dependent Resistors (VDRs)
Annex Q was updated to include additional information that was added to Edition No. 2 of IEC 62368-1.

Because the previous Annex Q was lacking detail, there may be a negative impact on manufacturers who previously specified VDRs that do not meet the updated criteria. There still remains some uncertainty on the true impact of this change at this time, including the provision for flammability of the VDR body.

For questions about how these changes affect your products, Ask Pat our compliance expert. 

Register for our biggest event of the year: MET’s Annual Global Compliance Seminar & Crab Feast.

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Product Safety Certification to UL 913 for Hazardous Locations Can Be to 5th or 7th Edition

by admin on Jul.25, 2013, under Product Safety

Product safety certification to UL 913 Intrinsically Safe Apparatus and Associated Apparatus for Use in Class I, II, and III, Division 1, Hazardous (Classified) Locations is a unique situation. There are currently two active editions of the standard: 5th and 7th.  (The 6th Edition was withdrawn in April 2008 in the sense that the standards writing body did not think any further certifications should be issued to it.)

While both cover the fundamentals of intrinsic safety, there are significant difference between the two; the 7th edition is harmonized with the international requirements of the IEC 60079 series.  This results in a more stringent edition of the standard that employs enhanced requirements.  A few major enhancements in UL913 7th edition are as follows:

  • Electrostatic discharge (ESD) testing on non-metallic enclosures
  • Options for reduced spacings (utilizing annex F)
  • More detailed guidance on the infallibility of traces
  • Incorporates impact and drop testing from 60079 Series
  • More detail-oriented battery testing, including: Guidance on the internal energy limiting componentry of the batteries during testing; Electrolyte leakage testing; and conditioning of battery sampling when rechargeable
  • Outdoor use products require at a minimum IP 54 testing

Manufacturers must comply with the 7th Edition of UL 913 by July 31, 2016, but are encouraged to transition earlier, especially if selling in international markets.

In addition to NRTL certification, MET offers certification under the ATEX Directive and the IECEx Scheme and for MSHAContact us for pricing and lead time.

Join us for our biggest event of the year: MET’s 2013 Annual Global Product Compliance Seminar & Crab Feast

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EN 61010-1 3rd Edition Compliance Required in EU by October 2013

by admin on Jun.24, 2013, under Europe, Product Safety

Like 60601-1 before it, CENELEC and IEC 61010-1: 2010 – along with CSA and UL 61010-1 Third Edition, 2012 – are moving to Third Edition.  61010-1 is the internationally harmonized safety standard for laboratory, process control, and test & measurement equipment. Products sold into the EU must comply with the 3rd edition of EN 61010-1 by October 2013.

Scope Expansion
The scope of the standard is expanded to cover the following types of equipment:

  • Electrical test and measurement equipment
  • Electrical laboratory equipment
  • Electrical industrial process-control equipment

Note: Hand-held probe assemblies are no longer covered by IEC 61010-1; a new standard IEC 61010-031 has been created.

Transition Dates
As of October 1, 2013, compliance with EN 61010 3rd Edition will be mandatory for products needing to comply with the EU low voltage directive for CE marking. The CB Scheme accepted IEC 61010-1 in August 2010. In North America, UL announced the effective date for 61010-1 third edition is January 1, 2018. CSA has not yet announced an effective date for the third edition.

Laboratory equipment requiring certification to a particular standard EN 61010-2-XXX must demonstrate conformity within three years of that particular standard’s date of ratification.

Key Changes
Following is a summary of the most significant changes in EN 61010-1, 3rd Edition.

Clause 5

  • Introduces the requirement for red pushbuttons and indictors

Clause 6

  • New allowance for products with permanent supply cords
  • New test for transformers with a protective bonding screen
  • New requirements for layered PWBs, molded and potted parts, and thin-film insulation
  • With Annex K, covers the new requirements for insulation, including air clearance and creepage distances
  • Test voltages are no longer based on clearance distances, thus interpolation is no longer needed
  • Voltage tests on solid insulation are now 1 minute, up from 5 seconds
  • New standard for impulse test is now EN 61180-1 (formerly EN 60060), and requires 5 impulses instead of 3

Clause 7

  • Requirements for sharp edges were added
  • Introduces the new requirements for moving parts, which include risk assessment requirements
  • New requirements for gaps between moving parts, and limiting forces and pressures
  • New requirement for load testing on parts supporting heavy loads
  • New requirement for support feet and castors

Clause 8

  • Introduces risk assessment as a means of identifying the levels of energy the equipment must resist during mechanical stress testing
  • Added the IK rating as a means to identify the degree of protection required for the enclosure, referencing EN 62262

Clause 10

  • Surface temperature limits were modified to align with EN 563

Clause 11

  • Leakage and rupture at high pressure is checked by inspection
  • Fluids now defined as including both liquids and gases
  • Spillage test now includes aggressive substances (as for IVD equipment in EN 61010-2-101)

Clause 12

  • Radiation requirements have been modified to include intended and unintended emission

Clause 16

  • New requirements for reasonably foreseeable misuse and ergonomic aspects

Clause 17 (New)

  • Added to deal with hazards and environments not covered by the standard, along with the new Annex J dealing with risk assessment
  • Requires a review of the manufacturer’s risk assessment file as part of the overall evaluation of the product

Contact MET to determine how these changes affect your products. 

Or attend a free 61010-1 webinar in July that will cover the standard and its changes in more detail.

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MSHA Mine Product Approvals Speeded by Independent Test Labs

by admin on Jun.03, 2013, under Product Safety

Electrical products destined for hazardous work locations are required in the U.S. to be product safety certified to NRTL requirements.  However, for products destined for use in explosive gas and dust atmospheres of a U.S. underground mine, NRTL safety certification is not sufficient – Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) approval is required.

Cue the long groan.  MSHA, like most U.S. government agencies, is understaffed and overworked, leading to long approval delays.

But there are options.  Under MSHA’s Subchapter B – Testing, Evaluation, and Approval of Mining Products, Part 6, the U.S. Department of Labor agency has created guidelines for the testing and evaluation of mine equipment by independent laboratories and non-MSHA product safety standards.

This program applies to these product categories:

  • Electric motor-driven mine equipment and accessories
  • Electric cap lamps
  • Electric mine lamps other than standard cap lamps
  • Portable methane detectors
  • Telephones and signaling devices
  • Methane-monitoring systems
  • Dust collectors for use in connection with rock drilling in coal mines
  • Fire-resistant hydraulic fluids
  • Permissible mobile diesel-powered transportation equipment

MSHA will accept testing and evaluation performed by an independent laboratory for purposes of MSHA product approval provided that they receive:

  1. Written evidence of the laboratory’s independence and current recognition by a laboratory accrediting organization
  2. Complete technical explanation of how the product complies with each requirement in the applicable MSHA product approval requirements
  3. Identification of components or features of the product that are critical to the safety of the product
  4. All documentation, including drawings and specifications, as submitted to the independent laboratory by the applicant

MSHA will accept equivalent non-MSHA product safety standards, assuming they provide the same degree of protection.  With modifications, these standards are accepted:

  • IEC 60079-0, Fourth Edition, 2004-01
  • IEC 60079-1, Fifth Edition, 2003-11

MET Labs is an independent and accredited test lab that offers testing and reporting as part of an MSHA approval application.  Test data is delivered to the manufacturer, which then submits the formal application to MSHA.  In our communication with the agency, applications submitted as part of this Part 6 program are looked at within about 2 months, as compared to up to over a year for standard MSHA approvals.

Contact MET for safety certification for hazardous location approvals for NRTL & MSHA in U.S., ATEX for EU, & IECEx for the international CB Scheme.

Need in-person training?  Attend a Hazardous Location Testing Seminar in Texas in July.

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Early Consideration of EMC & Product Safety Compliance in Product Development Saves Time and Headaches

by admin on May.15, 2013, under EMC, Product Safety

When developing a new electrical product, early consideration of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and product safety compliance issues will pay major dividends later.

If compliance is not engineered in from the start, expect to endure this pain:

  • A major delay as the product is redesigned, jeopardizing time to market and product viability
  • Significant extra costs for rework and increased product cost
  • Team dissension and rock-bottom morale

What’s the best way to integrate compliance into a new product?  First, get buy in from senior management, then:

  • Buy and read the relevant safety and EMC standards and train your design engineers in the basics of compliance
  • Have your compliance engineers work side by side with the designers, providing deeper expertise when needed, and information about the latest changes to standards and regulations
  • Perform early design reviews and early testing on the first prototypes to lower the risk during final compliance testing

Don’t have a compliance engineering team?  We can help.  In addition to testing and certification, MET Labs offers compliance assistance, with controls in place to prevent a conflict of interest, as required by our accreditation agencies.

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ICPHSO Product Safety Meeting Features Record Attendance & Strong CPSC Involvement

by admin on Feb.28, 2013, under Product Safety

The International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Annual Meeting and Training Symposium is underway in Arlington, Va., and there are a record 800 product safety professionals in attendance.  ICPHSO is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

There is a good mix of manufacturers, retailers, industry associations, and independent test labs here.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is represented by over 50 employees.  MET Laboratories is a sponsor and an exhibitor.  If you are at ICPHSO, let’s meet: 410.949.1856

Yesterday featured an interesting session on “Tools for Understanding and Anticipating Product Failure.”  Tim Cassidy, a panelist and Senior Manager of Product Safety and Compliance at Best Buy, explained how product safety complaints from consumers are handled by retailers.  His conclusions:

  • Real consumer data is messy – consumers report incomplete and often inaccurate information
  • It’s not always clear what the best course of action is
  • Often consumer motives are not related to safety – they just want a replacement product that works

Cassidy also explained under what circumstances Best Buy will engage in product “forensics”:

  • When there is litigation against the retailer’s private label products
  • When the retailer suspects a quality or reliability issue could have serious consequences
  • As a double check against vendor analysis
  • To deepen understanding of a particular technology or design

Best Buy will also engage in FMEA for product failure analysis.  FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effect Analysis.  FMEA can include MTBF calculations, HALT testing, or design reviews.

For Best Buy, FMEA has two purposes:

  • A means of knowing what happens when components fail
  • Criticality analysis (CA) guides corrective measures resulting from FMEA work

Today is “CPSC Day” and features a keynote from Inez Moore Tenenbaum, U.S. CPSC Chairman.  The ICPHSO Meeting ends tomorrow.

If you are a product safety compliance professional, you’ll want to attend MET’s upcoming free webinar on Using the CB Scheme to Access the World Marketplace.

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