The Importance of Certification on Electrical and Plumbing Products and Materials
When it comes to buying electrical or plumbing products and materials it may be tempting to look for the best deal but, it is very important that you ensure the items you are buying have a legitimate certification mark.
The dangers of using material that has not meet industry standards can put you or others at risk for injury, illness or even death.
WHY IS CERTIFICATION IMPORTANT?
While standards are not legal requirements but instead serve as guidelines they are completely voluntary. However, certification offers the consumer the peace of mind knowing that the product or material meets the standard set by the industry.
Those tools or materials that have been certified have been tested by a safety inspection organization and they have ensured that it is safe to work with in the environment the item will most likely to be exposed to.
Performance tests that are done on the products before they are certified have been seen as leveling the playing field and allowing suppliers to offer reliable products in a competitive market.
Certification can be verified by checking for a mark, which is printed directly onto the tool, or a sticker, which is added on after a safety inspection.
Ensuring that you are using certified materials in your electrical or plumbing workplace is crucial to the safety not only of your co-workers but also of your clients or any occupants of the building or home.
The safety labels on products confirm for consumers that the product has meet the standard level for a variety of organizations including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), CSA Group (CSA) and NSF International (NSF) among others.
CSA Group is one of the largest certification organizations and they have been accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They test and certify products like electrical, building and plumbing products. They also have a Certified Product Listing so that consumers can see if the item is certified.
Certification has also been important as many electrical goods are manufactured overseas where safety and quality are not monitored as well as in North America.
Different standards have also developed in different markets for example, CE marks can be found on tools that are made or sold in Europe but they are not approved for use in Canada. This mark is put on the tool by the manufacturers and not by a third party safety organization.
The CSA Group advises industry experts to avoid any tools that do not have the certification mark. It is also important to inspect any mark that is on it to be sure it is not counterfeit.
There are several products on the market that have certification marks on them but are actually counterfeit and thus pose a danger to the worker and those on the job site or in the building or home.
Because of the danger of fake products the CSA Group has a dedicated team to investigate reports of fraudulent products. They have even put effort into training law enforcement and custom officials to recognize counterfeit products.
Some of the tips they advise consumers to follow when it comes to spotting fake materials is to also examine any packaging the items comes with as fake products will come with poorly designed packaging. Read the printing on the box and any documents inside to see if there are misspellings or missing information.
If a safety label appears on the box but not the product itself, be wary, there is a change that the product is counterfeit.
Other tips from the CSA Group include examining the product for the brand name. If the brand name is missing that is a red flag. You should also be cautious if the price seems too good as most often it has been a sign of counterfeit goods.
CSA group also advises consumers and industry professionals not to buy from retailers that they are not familiar with.
Relying on certification for electrical materials is particularly important as fire safety and electrical safety will both be a concern with products that have not been certified.
There is also the risk that in the case of damage from an uncertified project an insurance company may sue, leading to costly remedies.
There are a variety of organizations that offer testing and certification for electrical materials, with CSA Group being one of the most recognizable names. There is SGS that works primarily in Canada. There are also many other organizations that can help in the certification process.
Products that are certified are always open to further inspections and it is often in the best interest of the manufacturer to keep certification marks up to date.
In the plumbing industry the IAPMO is the certification agency in North America. They have been accredited by the American National Standards Institute, the Standards Council of Canada and the entidad Mexicana de acrediacion, a.c.
There are a variety of marks that a product can have on it to identify it as a certified product.
A WasterSense Certification Mark means the product has been tested for water efficiency and performance.
An ASSE Mark indicates the product is in compliance with the American Society of Sanitary Engineering.
Plumbing tools also get an CSA certification mark, which also indicates whether the product has been approved for Canadian, United States or both markets.
There is also the UPC shield that appears on products approved by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials(IAMPO) and which complies with the performance standard and the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC).
There are other marks given by the IAPMO including the classified marking certification mark, which indicates the product has meet performance standards but has not been recognized by the UPC.
In 2012 new requirements from the International Plumbing Code meant that all plumbing products needed to be certified. Previously only certain third-party products needed certification.
The process of standardizing products in the electrical and plumbing industries has been developing for over 100 years but the importance of the idea has not changed.
Ultimately, consumer and workplace safety are the primary reasons for only using certified tools and materials. Certification for electrical and plumbing projects has been a way of leveling the playing field for all manufacturers and reassuring consumers they are getting industry standard products that they can trust.