Leveling the Playing
Rick Curkeet, PE
• Documentation Validation
• Monitoring or Auditing
– Follow-up Inspections
– Identification of certified products
– Standards, Classification, Rating
Codes & Regulations
Products Body – Test
Consumer & Product
Standards Are Critical
• Almost all are voluntary consensus standards.
• “Nationally Recognized”
• Recognized Standards Development Organizations
• ASTM, NFPA, UL, ISO, CSA, ASCE, etc.
• OMB Circular A-119 –
– 6. What Is The Policy For Federal Use Of Standards?
All federal agencies must use voluntary consensus standards in lieu of
government-unique standards in their procurement and regulatory
activities, except where inconsistent with law or otherwise impractical. In
these circumstances, your agency must submit a report describing the
reason(s) for its use of government-unique standards in lieu of voluntary
consensus standards to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Life Safety Standards in Building Codes (>500 Standards)
Conformity Assessment Standards
• ISO/IEC 17025 – Testing and Calibration Laboratories
• ISO/IEC 17020 – Inspection Agencies
• ISO/IEC 17010 – Accreditation
• ISO/IEC 17030 – Third-party Marks of Conformity
• ISO Guide 65 – Third-party Product Certification
Why do we need “Third-Parties”?
“Second-Party” “First-Party” =
= BUYER SELLER
(Consumer, Regulator, AHJ) (Manufacturer, Importer,
Third-Parties provide independent assurance of a product’s
quality, performance, safety, or suitability for end use.
Why Trust a “Third-Party”?
Their only marketable commodity is:
To demonstrate CREDIBILITY Third-Parties obtain
If buyers feel the 3rd-Party favors the seller he/she
can complain to accreditors.
Likewise, if sellers feel the 3rd-Party favors buyers.
Lose ACCREDITATIONS = Lose CREDIBILITY =
OUT of BUSINESS.
• All major third-party certifiers obtain numerous
accreditations required by various authorities.
• Federal Government
– OSHA “NRTL” Program
– DoD, Navy, Coast Guard
• Canada – Standards Council of Canada
• Model Code Agencies - ICC-IAS
• Some Cites and Counties
• Insurance Companies
• Accrediting Agencies
THIRD-PARTIES ALSO MUST COMPLY WITH STANDARDS
• ISO Guides & Standards
– 17025 Testing and Calibration Laboratories
– Guide 65 Third-Party Certification Programs
– 17030 Third-Party Marks of Conformity and Their Use
– 17020 Inspection
– 27 Guidelines for corrective action in the event of misuse
of the certification mark.
– Others (39, 40, 53, 56)
• ICC-ES - Acceptance Criteria and Rules.
What do “ACCREDITORS” do?
• Verifies that the Certification agency conforms to standards.
• Most require copies of operating procedure documents,
personnel résumés, calibration records, etc.
• Most conduct regular audits of agency’s testing and inspection
• Generally publish lists of “Approved” or “Recognized” agencies.
Levels of Certification:
• Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (least stringent)
– Supplier (mfgr., dealer) does testing, validation, and auditing.
(Assumed to be biased.)
• Affiliated Certification (Trade Associations)
– Lab does testing. Association does validation and auditing.
(Requires autonomous independent administrator to prevent bias
• Third-Party Certification (most stringent, unbiased)
– Independent agency does testing, validation, and auditing.
(Usually required where life safety and public welfare are the
Examples of Third-Party Certification
Underwriter’s Laboratories - UL (1894)
Canadian Standards Association - CSA(1919)
Intertek - Warnock Hersey (1888), ETL (1890)
National Sanitation Foundation – NSF (1944)
Certification Flow Chart
Sample Production YES
Selection Meets Authorize
STEP 1: Identify Product
• What is the product to be certified?
• What standard(s) is it to be judged by?
• What are the minimum requirements for acceptance
of the product?
• USE OF NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED STANDARDS
– ANSI, ASTM, NFPA, etc.
Step 2: Document Design/Process
• Compare product to design
specifications and drawings.
• If the production process or
procedure is critical, witness and
document production of samples.
• In some cases samples are randomly
selected from stock by the 3rd-party.
Step 3: Conduct Evaluation
• Sample(s) must be traceable to documented
• Testing and evaluation under supervision and control
• Full compliance with applicable standards required.
(Note: In some cases deviations may be allowed if
fully disclosed in product markings, literature, etc.)
Step 4: Create Inspection Documentation
• Test Reports.
• Design and process documentation.
• In-Plant Quality Assurance Procedures.
• Marking and Labeling Requirements.
• Listing and Labeling contract.
– Includes “Authorization to Mark”.
Step 5: Follow-Up Surveillance
• Regular and UNANNOUNCED visits to production
• Verify that products being “Marked” comply with
design, process and QA requirements.
• Document results and report any deficiencies or
• No product modifications without review and
verification of compliance.
Without an effective and meaningful
FOLLOW-UP SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
the other steps are meaningless! If the
producer can submit one product for
testing and evaluation and then make
and label something different, the point
of certification is lost.
If Variances* Are Found!
• 3rd-Party must investigate and determine
scope/severity of non-compliance.
• Determine appropriate remedial actions.
• If warranted will suspend or revoke authorization to
apply certification mark.
• Notification of Authorities of unsafe, hazardous or
non-compliant products bearing the “mark”.
• Because the process is governed by contract
between the manufacturer and certification agency,
resolution of non-compliance issues is quick and
*Variance – Any deviation from the certified design.
• 3rd-Party must have procedure to investigate non-
compliance allegations from any source.
• 3rd-Party must have appeals procedure to resolve any
issues arising from its compliance or non-compliance
• No “conflict-of-interests” that could influence the
objectivity of the 3rd-party.
• Must have procedure to protect client’s confidential and
• No affiliation or financial interest in producers,
vendors or suppliers of products it certifies.
• No stock ownership by employees in companies that
produce certified products. (Except through “blind”
• No involvement in design of products it certifies.
• Employment security of personnel is not subject to
influence of clients.
• Sufficient financial strength and diversity of business
that the loss or award and any single contract would
not affect ongoing operations.
• These are the Third-Party’s identifying symbol(s)
registered as “Certification Marks” with the US
patent office under “The Lanham Act”.
• Third-Party must enforce control of the mark and
allow its application only to products produced in
compliance with the certification program rules.
• Third-Party Certification is the dominant process that
assures safety, performance and fitness for purpose of
products and materials on a global basis.
• Virtually all building materials and many consumer
products are 3rd-party certified for:
– Fire safety
– Electrical safety
– Structural performance
– Energy Efficiency
• Areas where direct Federal Regulation has been required
are increasingly moving to third-party certification.
– Food and Drug Safety
– CPSC Consumer Products Safety Regulations
– FCC Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility
IT’S A GOOD FIT!
• Virtually all solid fuel appliances are required to be
third-party certified for compliance with safety
standards under state and local regulations.
• Most of the work is already done - adding emissions
and efficiency performance certification is therefore
adds very minimal cost for manufacturers and
• Regulators have a very simple and reliable method of
verifying that products comply with specified limits.
Just look for the label.
• Third-Party certification does not usurp the regulatory authority
to APPROVE or DISAPPROVE products.
• It merely provides an efficient, effective and reliable mechanism
to allow the “Authority Having Statutory Jurisdiction” to identify
products which comply with standards and performance limits
established by the applicable regulation.
• Third-Party Certification uses the terms “Certified”, “Classified”,
“Listed” and “Labeled” which are all defined within various
conformity assessment systems. But Third-Party Certifiers do
not use the term “Approved” to describe their services.
(Although the term is frequently misused in the media and
advertizing – e.g. “UL Approved”.)