Product Safety Isn't a Choice… Or is it?

Gaining proof of product safety is important, but so is getting innovative products quickly into the hands of people who save lives. How do manufacturers balance the two?

14 June 2013

Gaining proof of product safety is important, but so is getting innovative products quickly into the hands of people who save lives. Today, achieving both is not only the target—it's obtainable.

In no other industry is the determination to "get it right" more inherent in the product development process than in Life Safety & Security. Medical, maybe. Aerospace, perhaps. But Life Safety & Security products have life or death consequences to them on a daily basis. They MUST work. Therefore, the design and development cycles are at the mercy of product integrity.

Now, let's say a new innovation comes along that has the potential to save more lives or protect more property from harm. The drive to see this technology in use is significant. It needs to be in the field, not in the lab. And new innovations are in the pipeline immediately behind it at all times. The pressure to bring this new product to market is extraordinary, and it comes from the industry, the first responders, and the public.

Manufacturers today are at a crossroads like no other time in history.

The OSHA NRTL program is designed with this scenario in mind. It created competition in the testing and certification world so that qualified 3rd party agencies can assist manufacturers with quality, expertise, and, yes, even turnaround time. Manufacturers have a choice in who they partner with for product safety testing and certification, such as Intertek for the ETL Mark, or Underwriters Laboratories for the UL Mark, or other NRTLs for their own proprietary certification marks. Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) recognize these different certification programs and accept the products that bear their labels.

Whether it's directly at the product level, or if it's a system-level certification such as a Central Station alarm company listing, having choice is good for business and the benefits can be realized by everyone. When every second counts, you want the right product with the right technology and the right certifications to be there for you.

Do you have a question or a comment regarding the OSHA NRTL program or the different options that are available in testing and certification? Post your thoughts below and I'll be happy to reply.

Today's expert blogger is Tom Connaughton. Tom is the Global Director for Life Safety & Security Services at Intertek, as well as the Middle East Liaison for Intertek's Electrical Business Line. He sits on multiple technical committees and association boards and is a frequent presenter at industry events. Tom is based in our Fairfield, New Jersey office.