NRTL FAQs

So What exactly is an NRTL?

Read our frequently asked questions below to gain a comprehensive understanding of TÜV SÜD's recognition as an NRTL

What Is an NRTL?

A Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) is an independent laboratory recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to test products to applicable product safety standards. An NRTL's function is to provide independent testing and certification of devices that may pose a risk to the user. TÜV SÜD America and Canada are NRTL's.

True or False; NRTLs are government agencies.

FALSE. Many in the U.S. believe that OSHA testing facilities or other government agencies conduct the testing and certification of products and equipment for use in the workplace. This is false. The fact is that this testing is done by independent third-party testing and certification organizations. OSHA only operates the program that "recognizes" these independent third-party organizations.

Why does the NRTL program exist?

The NRTL Program is run by OSHA to ensure that products are safe for use by US workers. OSHA's recognition of an NRTL confirms the organization's ability to perform product safety testing and certification within a preapproved scope.

True or False; OSHA dictates to manufacturers which NRTL they must use.

FALSE. While OSHA "recognizes" organizations as NRTLs under 29 CFR 1910.7, it does not dictate to manufacturers which NRTL they must use. In fact the opposite is true. OSHA "recognizes" multiple organizations as NRTLs to create a competitive environment so that the manufacturers have a choice of which NRTL they utilize. Manufacturers can choose any NRTL, with the appropriate "scope", to show compliance with US, UL, ANSI and other OSHA recognized standards. OSHA considers all NRTLs recognized under 29 CFR 1910.7 to be equivalent in their "capability" to certify to the standards in their scope of recognition. OSHA does not dictate to manufacturers which NRTL they must use.

Are NRTLs recognized in Canada?

Not automatically, but TÜV SÜD is recognized in both markets. In Canada, a similar and largely equivalent program is in place although the regulatory jurisdiction is at provincial and territorial level. Regulators accept accreditation via the SCC (Standards Council of Canada) as a means for electrical products to be certified for the Canadian market.

What products require NRTL approval? And why?

OSHA safety standards are part of US law and specify requirements for "approval" (i.e., testing and certification) of certain products by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). The original intent of these requirements was the safety of workers, but market forces and fear of litigation have moved safety certification into the mainstream for all electrical devices used or sold in the US. Mass produced products can be Certified while unique systems or installations may be approved via an on-site Field Evaluation.

The OSHA Product Catalog can be found here: http://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/prodcatg.html

Beyond mandatory approval of products used in the US workplace, NRTL approval is “market driven”, meaning that any electrical device that will be sold or distributed in the US will need an NRTL approval for open acceptance in the marketplace. Without NRTL approval most retailers will not distribute a product.

In Canada, all electrical devices that connect to the electricity supply must be approved by law. Approval can be via formal certification or field evaluation (Special Inspection). This is documented in the Provincial and Territorial Electrical Codes that reference the Canadian Electrical Code.

Will retailers accept the TÜV mark?

Yes. All NRTLs must follow the same rules in support of common acceptance. Under OSHA’s NRTL program TÜV SÜD certification includes the same testing, listing, labeling, and follow-up inspection services as competing certification marks (such as UL, ETL, CSA, and others). TÜV SÜD also works closely with Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) county and local inspectors or regulators to ensure acceptance.

Is the TÜV SÜD mark better than the UL, ETL or CSA marks?

The marks are just symbols of adherence to the certification requirements. The difference is in the quality of the organization delivering that certification mark. TÜV SÜD can provide you with fast responses and quality service at a competitive price.

What products can TÜV SÜD approve?

We are qualified to a specific scope of standards covering a very wide variety of products. If you are not sure what standard is appropriate to your device, as this can often be confusing, contact us for free guidance.

Our scope of accreditation can be found here: NRTL Safety Certification Scope

Are factory inspections mandatory for the TÜV NRTL safety mark?

Yes. Per OSHA all NRTLs shall perform ongoing audits of production.

True or False; Underwriters Laboratories Inc., commonly known as UL, is a government agency.

FALSE. Many in the U.S. believe this to be true. In fact, UL is a private, non-profit organization and not a government agency. UL is recognized as an NRTL by OSHA under 29 CFR 1910.7 and has exactly the same status as the 18 NRTLs recognized by OSHA under the NRTL Program

Since UL writes the safety standards, don’t products require UL?

No. While UL participates in standards development along with many other parties, a manufacturer can choose any of the NRTLs recognized by OSHA such as TÜV SÜD. UL operates two unique entities, one being an NRTL capable of issuing a US product certification much like all other NRTLs, and a second independent body focused on standards development.

Can we switch from UL to TÜV SÜD?

Yes. The process of moving a customer’s existing files from one NRTL to another is called a “Rollover." Pricing for a rollover is unique per customer based on the number of products and what existing test data they have available.

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