Tag: product safety

MSHA Mine Product Approvals Speeded by Independent Test Labs

by 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:

  • Battery Powered Mobile Machines
  • Batteries for Mobile Machines
  • X/P Connection Boxes/Enclosures
  • X/P Plug and Receptacles/Connectors
  • Diesel Electronics
  • Electric Cap Lamps
  • X/P Electric Motors
  • Permissible Fans
  • Flashlights
  • Ground Check (Wire) Monitors
  • Intrinsically Safe Instruments
  • Intrinsically Safe Relays
  • Lighting Systems
  • Communication Systems
  • Multi-Gas Detectors – Handheld
  • Machine Methane Monitoring Systems
  • Telephone and Signaling Devices
  • Water Pumps

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 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 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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FAQs Regarding IEC 62368-1, the Replacement for IEC 60950-1 & IEC 60065

by on Feb.25, 2013, under Product Safety

What is IEC 62368-1?
It is the new safety standard for Information Technology Equipment and Audio/Video Equipment.  It is intended to replace IEC 60950-1 and IEC 60065.  It is a hazard-based, performance-oriented standard.

Is IEC 62368-1 a risk-based standard?
No! Unlike IEC 60601-1, 3rd Edition, risk analysis is not required.  Neither is it a simple merger of IEC 60065 and 60950-1.

Why are IEC 60950-1 & 60065 being replaced?
Technology is changing, and IEC 62368-1 is technology independent.  It also minimizes the need for national/regional differences.

Is IEC 62368-1, Edition No. 1 being adopted internationally?
The United States (ANSI-UL 62368-1), Canada (CSA C22.2 No 62368-1), Denmark, Netherlands, & South Africa adopted national versions.  Edition No. 1 was not supported by Europe (CENELEC), which wanted further refinement of requirements before adoption.  In Asia, multiple countries are doing a close study of it.  For the IECEE CB Scheme, IEC 62368-1 has been activated under OFF/TRON.  OFF & TRON account for over half of CB Scheme certifications.

What is the status of IEC 62368-1, Edition No. 2?
Edition No. 2 of IEC 62368-1 (108/495A/CDV) was distributed in December and has a closing date for voting by TC108 National Committee Participating members of March 1, 2013.  The U.S. TAG TC108 will reportedly submit an affirmative vote on the CDV.  The IEC target publication date is the second half of 2013.  Then, it is expected that Europe will adopt EN 62368-1, 2nd edition, with a likely 5 year effective date.  The target publication date of Edition No. 2 of CSA/UL 62368-1 is summer 2014, with a likely 5 year effective date.

When will IEC 60065 & 60950-1 be transitioned out?
It is expected the last versions of IEC 60065 (8th edition) and IEC 60950-1 (2nd edition,
Am. 2) will be published in 2013.  In Europe, the final versions of EN 60065 and EN 60950-1 are expected to be published in 2013 with a likely 3 year effective date. For the U.S. & Canada, final versions of CSA/UL 60065 & 60950-1 are expected to be published in 2014, with a likely 3 year effective date. For the EU & North America, new certifications of A/V, IT & CT Equipment are likely to be required to comply with an IEC 62368-1 based standard beginning around 2018.

Have additional questions about the change?  Ask Pat, our compliance expert.

Need testing for IT or A/V equipment?  Request a quote.

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Top 10 Compliance Today Blog Posts for Electrical Compliance Engineers in 2012

by on Jan.15, 2013, under EMC, Product Safety

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Top 35 Blogs for Electrical Product Manufacturers

by on Jan.02, 2013, under EMC, Product Safety

We received so much positive feedback on our blog posts for EMC Compliance Links and Product Safety Compliance Links, that we decided to dedicate a post to spotlight the top blogs for electrical product developers. 

With a few exceptions, these blogs are from independent sources, like industry associations, publishers or consultants. What are we missing? Leave a comment with a link to it.

Aerospace & Defense Blog  Military and aerospace electronics news and information.
ANSI  International standards and accreditation activities.
Buzzblog  Intelligence and insight for Network and IT Executives.
CertAssist Consulting  Product Safety information, especially regarding 60950-1 and 61010-1.
Circuit Advisor  Circuit design and troubleshooting.
Compliance Today  Electrical testing and certification news and information.
DfR Solutions Forum  Reliability design and testing.
Digital Dialogue  From the Consumer Electronics Association, sponsor of the Consumer Electronics Show. (Side note: You can meet with MET at CES next week)
EDN Network  59(!) blogs for the electronics community on various topics.
EE Life Blog  Electrical engineering topics from EE Times.
EleBlog  Frequently updated blog on the electrical industry.
Electronics Weekly Blogs  15 blogs, including Certification & Test and Directive Decoder.
EMC Zone  Issues affecting engineers working in the EMC industry.
Emergo Group  Global medical device regulatory updates.
EPN Automotive Electronics Blog  Automotive electronics issues from a European perspective.
EPN Industrial Automation Blog  Industrial automation and controls topics from a European perspective.
EPN Renewable Energy Blog  Info on electronic components and technologies related to solar power, wind power, and other renewable energy sources from a European perspective.
EPN RF & Wireless Blog  Updates on RF/microwave and wireless technology, systems, standards and events from a European perspective.
IEEE Spectrum  5 blogs on nanotech, robots, risk analysis, general tech, and energy.
IEEE Standards Insight  Promotes technology standards and their development.
Instruments for Industry  Information to help RF EMI and EMC test engineers, from an amplifier manufacturer.
Medical Electronics Design  A resource for medical electronics OEMs.
Microwave Journal  A handful of blogs concentrating on microwave and RF technology.
NEMA Currents  Information on electrical grid, safety, energy efficiency, smart grid, and regulation.
Nick’s Fire, Electrical Safety & Security Blog  Common sense security, fire & electrical safety.
OnSafety  Official blog of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pradeep’s Point  A resource for semiconductors, solar PV, telecom, electronics, infocom, components, nanotech, and IT.
Product Safety Blog   Product safety legal issues from Miles & Stockbridge.
Regulatory News Blog  Telecom regulatory news.
Reliability Blog  Electronics reliability engineering.
RFID Journal Blog  RFID industry news and information.
Smart Grid Sherpa  Information on smart grid technologies, from DNV KEMA.
Test and Certification Blog  Product test and certification from an EU perspective.
Test & Measurement World  14 blogs, including The EMC Blog and Eye on Standards.
WeMakeItSafer  Product safety regulations and recall information.

What are your favorite electrical product development blogs?  Please leave a comment with a link to it.

Need testing?  Contact Us.

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Five Tips for Avoiding Counterfeit Electrical Products

by on Dec.06, 2012, under Product Safety

Counterfeit electrical products are a huge and growing problem.  Counterfeit products worth billions of dollars enter the U.S. each year.  According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 13% of all counterfeit products seized are electrical products, ranking them second among all category totals.

The manufacture of counterfeit electrical products is popular because the profits are outsized, and it’s difficult to pinpoint where bad products are originally made, and who is responsible for exporting them.

Generally, counterfeiters don’t go to the expense of having products tested and verified by an approved third-party testing lab designated as a nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) such as MET Labs, but they will sometimes produce fake approval logos.

To lower costs, counterfeit products typically have substandard design, materials, and/or manufacturing quality.  Counterfeit electrical products present serious health and safety risks to consumers and to the electrical industry. These products can overheat or cause short circuits, leading to fires, shocks or explosions that can kill people and produce considerable property damage.

Manufacturers, distributors, and installers of electrical products also face legal risks for trading in counterfeit products — even if they are victims of counterfeiters.

To protect yourself from the purchase of counterfeit electrical products, observe these 5 guidelines.  If you are an electrical product manufacturer, encourage your customers to do the same – you never know when one of those bogus products will have your brand name on it.

  1. Buy from a reputable source.  Purchase products from the manufacturer’s authorized distributors or a known retailer.
  2. Examine labels, documentation and packaging.  Check for certification marks from organizations that certify the quality and performance of electrical products. Avoid products that lack any identifying branding label or have poor-quality labels, missing owner’s manual, out-of-date product codes, and suspect packaging.
  3. Verify authentication.  Use tools provided by the original manufacturer or certification organizations to verify electrical products are authentic. For a MET-safety-labeled product, verify authenticity in the MET Labs Online Safety Certification Database
  4. Examine the product.  Quality control is often lacking in counterfeiting operations, so you may be able to spot a counterfeit based on its workmanship.
  5. Avoid bargains.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If a product is suspected to be counterfeit, contact the brand owner and report your concern to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement: 1-866-347-2423.

Read about how the MET safety mark compares to UL.

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UL 1741 Safety Testing of Inverters Includes Anti-Islanding Requirement

by on Nov.28, 2012, under EMC, Product Safety

In the event of a power failure on the electric grid, it is required that any independent power-producing inverters attached to the grid turn off in a short period of time. This prevents the DC-to-AC inverters from continuing to feed power into small sections of the grid, known as “islands.”  Powered islands present a risk to workers who may expect the area to be unpowered, and they may also damage grid-tied equipment.

A single inverter operating independently can easily detect the presence or lack of a grid source.  However, if there are two inverters in a given island, things become considerably more complex. It is possible that the signal from one can be interpreted as a grid feed from the other, and vice versa, so both units continue operation.

Since 1999, the standard for anti-islanding protection in the United States has been UL 1741, harmonized with IEEE 1547. 

Test Requirements/Procedures
The requirement for a unit under test is to detect an island condition and cease to energize the area electric power

Anti-Islanding Test Setup

system (EPS) within two seconds of the formation of an island. This disconnection time is measured from the point that the switch is opened up disconnecting the grid but leaving the islanding circuit connected and the point that the unit ceases exportation of current to the grid.

The island load is adjusted to ensure a power quality factor (Q) of 1.0 (+/- 0.05) and the “central” balanced load condition.  In addition, the output current flowing to the grid through the switch (S3) is limited to a maximum value of 2% of the rated output current and the Q=1.0 balanced load condition of the unit under test.

In addition to testing at the balanced load condition of Q=1.0, The test is to be repeated with the reactive load (either capacitive or inductive) adjusted in 1% increments from 95% to 105% of the initial balanced load component value. If the unit’s shutdown times are still increasing at the 95% or 105% points, additional 1% increments shall be taken until trip times begin decreasing.

The anti-islanding test is repeated for 3 output power levels: 33%, 66%, and 100% of the rated output power of the unit under test.

Pass Criteria
The test is considered complete when one of two situations occur:

  • When disconnect times illustrate a pattern of decreasing times with respect to a balanced load condition yielding the longest disconnect time
  • When the resultant tank circuit frequency is such that it is past the frequency trip point of the unit under test such that the unit under test is tripping offline due to a frequency fault

UL 1741 has other performance requirements as well, including power quality, interconnect integrity, and operating voltage and frequency parameters.  For information about testing inverters to any of these requirements, contact us

MET Labs is a leader in renewable energy product testing.  Visit our Quote Center for a rapid response quote.

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Hazardous Location Product Safety Certification Requirements for EU, China, Russia, Korea & India

by on Nov.01, 2012, under Product Safety

This post is the second of two posts on hazardous location product safety testing and certification.  The first post explored testing for UL/CSA, ATEX & IECEx.

This post looks at certification requirements for particular markets/countries.

North America
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) program, and accredits laboratories like MET Labs to product safety certify products.  Hazardous location products must meet normal location and hazardous location requirements.

In Canada, Standards Council Canada (SCC) accredits labs to certify hazardous location equipment.

European Union (EU) Member Countries
The CE Marking, which includes the ATEX Directive and any other applicable Directives, is mandatory for equipment offered for sale or use within the EU.  Equipment must bear all applicable markings (EN 60079 Series) and must be accompanied by a Manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity.

Other Directives may also apply, such as PED for pressure equipment, Machinery Directive and EMC.

Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore
These countries require an IECEx Certificate of Conformity issued by an accredited IECEx Certification Body (ExCB), and equipment must bear the applicable markings outlined by the IEC 60079 series of standards.

Note also that for mining equipment, some jurisdictions within Australia require the IECEx Certificate of Conformity to be issued by an Australian ExCB. 

For above ground (non-mining) hazardous location equipment, China has an IECEx Certification Body and will accept an Ex Test Report (ExTR) and/or an ATEX Report as a basis for issuing Chinese national certification.  Generally, hazardous location equipment which is approved under the ATEX or the IECEx Scheme can be reviewed and issued a certificate by NEPSI (National Supervision and Inspection Center for Explosion Protection and Safety of Instrumentation) or CQST (China National Quality Supervision and Test Center for Explosion Protected Products).

Some products may also need metrology approval, MA mining certification, fire safety approval or CCC marking for general electrical safety.

Russia has an IECEx Certification Body and will accept an Ex Test Report (ExTR) and/or an ATEX Report as a basis for issuing national certification.

A GOST-R certificate is required for most electrical products shipped through Russian customs. For products intended for hazardous locations, the GOST-Ex certificate is required.  The IECEx or ATEX certificate and ExTR or ATEX Report can be used to obtain the GOST-Ex.  In addition, a permit for use from the Federal Ecological, Technological and Atomic Supervision Service (Rostekhnadzor) is required for the intended installation.

Korea accepts an Ex Test Report (ExTR) and/or an ATEX Report as a basis for issuing national certification.  There are three main certification bodies: KGS, KOSHA and KTL.  Applications must be made in Korean.

India is a member of the IECEx Scheme, but there are no Indian certification agencies currently accredited as ExCBs.  There are a number of certification agencies within India, and an ATEX or IECEx Certificate and Report will help in obtaining National Certification for India. 

Find out more about testing products for different world markets.

Get a quote for hazardous location product safety certification for one or multiple markets.

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Hazardous Location Product Safety Testing Explained for UL/CSA, ATEX & IECEx

by on Oct.16, 2012, under Product Safety

Safety testing and certifying products for hazardous locations is complicated, especially when a manufacturer is exporting to multiple markets. Following is a basic primer.  For more detailed information or questions, contact MET Labs

In countries with formal certification and a 3-zone system, the IEC60079 series of standards is commonly used, adopted as National Standards as they are written or with some National Deviations that ensure compatibility with local installation codes. 

Most all other countries that produce their own National Standards base them on the IEC 60079 series.   Some countries, like the U.S. and Canada, have dual standards systems: National Standards, plus adoption of the IEC60079 series as an alternate system. 

CE Marking/ATEX Directive
All EU countries require CE Markings, which involves the ATEX Directive for products used in hazardous locations.  The use of harmonized EN standards gives the manufacturer the “presumption of conformity” to the “Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs)” and a basis on which to issue a declaration of compliance for the ATEX Directive.

The ATEX Directive requires:

  • ATEX EC Type Exam Certificate, which documents the evaluation and testing of the subject equipment, performed to the applicable EN 60079 Standards, which are an adoption of the IEC 60079 Series with National Deviations for ATEX markings.  The certificate is issued by a Notified Body (NB). 
  • ATEX Quality Assessment Notification (QAN), which documents the suitability of the manufacturer’s QA system, performed to the EN13980 Standard.  The notification is issued by a NB.
  • Declaration of Conformity (DoC) stating compliance with all applicable Directives.  The DoC is issued by the manufacturer for Zone 2 certifications.  Zone 1 and Zone 0 DoC certifications are issued by the NB.

For certain types of equipment (non-electrical for Zone 1 or both electrical and non-electrical for Zone 2), it is possible to self-declare compliance.

IECEx Scheme
The IECEx Scheme is the CB Scheme for electrical equipment used in explosive atmospheres (hazardous locations).   It consists of three elements, all issued by an IECEx Scheme Certification Body (ExCB):

  • IECEx Test Report (ExTR), which documents the evaluation and testing of the subject equipment, performed to the applicable IEC 60079 Series Standards
  • IECEx Quality Assessment Report (ExQAR), which documents the suitability of the manufacturer’s QA system, performed to OD 005 (EN13980)
  • IECEx Certificate of Conformity (IECEx CoC), which can be issued to a manufacturer holding an ExTR and an applicable ExQAR.

In alliance with UK-based TRaC Global, MET offers testing, certification and product inspection services under the ATEX Directive and the IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme, via an innovative Harmonised International Ex Testing Program.  Read more about it.

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