Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
) is an independent product safety certification organization. Established in 1894, the company has its headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois
Northbrook is a village located at the northern edge of Cook County, Illinois, which is also a North Shore suburb of Chicago. The population was 33,170 at the 2010 census....
. UL develops standards and test procedures for products, materials, components, assemblies, tools and equipment, chiefly dealing with product safety. UL also evaluates and certifies the efficiency of a company’s business processes through its management system registration programs. Additionally, UL analyzes drinking and other clean water samples through its drinking water
Drinking water or potable water is water pure enough to be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually...
laboratory in South Bend
The city of South Bend is the county seat of St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, on the St. Joseph River near its southernmost bend, from which it derives its name. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a total of 101,168 residents; its Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 316,663...
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...
and evaluates products for environmental sustainability through its subsidiary, UL Environment.
UL is one of several companies approved for such testing by the U.S. federal agency Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. It was created by Congress of the United States under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed by President Richard M. Nixon, on December 29, 1970...
(OSHA). OSHA maintains a list of approved testing laboratories, known as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories
A Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory is a testing facility recognized by OSHA as primarily private sector organizations that provide product safety testing and certification services to manufacturers. The testing and certification are done, for purposes of the Program, to U.S. consensus-based...
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. was founded in 1894 by William Henry Merrill
William Henry Merrill was an American electrical engineer who founded Underwriters Laboratories in 1894.-Biography:...
. Early in his career as an electrical engineer in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...
, a 25 year old Merrill was sent to investigate the World Fair
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...
’s Palace of Electricity. Upon seeing a growing potential in his field, Merrill stayed in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...
to found Underwriters Laboratories.
Merrill soon went to work developing standards, launching tests, designing equipment and uncovering hazards. Aside from his work at UL, Merrill served as the National Fire Protection Association’s secretary-treasurer (1903–1909) and president (1910–1912) and was an active member of the Chicago Board and Union Committee. In 1916, Merrill became UL’s first president.
UL published its first standard, “Tin Clad Fire Door
A fire door is a door with a fire-resistance rating used as part of a passive fire protection system to reduce the spread of fire or smoke between compartments and to enable safe egress from a building or structure or ship...
s,” in 1903. The following year, the UL Mark made its debut with the labeling of a fire extinguisher
A fire extinguisher or extinguisher, flame entinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations...
. In 1905, UL established a Label Service for certain product categories that require more frequent inspections. UL inspectors conducted the first factory inspections on labeled products at manufacturers’ facilities—a practice that remains a hallmark of UL’s testing and certification program.
UL has expanded into an organization with 64 laboratory, testing and certification facilities serving customers in 98 countries. It has also evolved from its roots in electrical and fire safety to address broader safety issues, such as hazardous substances, water quality, food safety, performance testing and environmental sustainability.
On August 28, 2007, the nonprofit and tax-exempt UL announced that its Board of Trustees had resolved to develop a for-profit testing and certification subsidiary.
The parent nonprofit company will continue to develop safety standards—with the for-profit subsidiary intended to generate money to be used for this work. The for-profit part of the business promotes the sales of standards developed by the nonprofit part.
- Boxes-Junction and Pull (BGUZ)
- Cabinets and Cutout Boxes-Sheet Metal (CYIV)
- Industrial Control Panel Enclosures (NITW)
Industrial Control Panels
- Industrial Control Panels (NITW)
- Flame Control Panels
- Power Press Control Panels
Industrial Control Equipment
- Auxiliary Devices (NKCR)
- Solid State
- Combination Motor Controllers (NKJH)
- Float and Pressure-Operated Switches (NKPZ)
- Magnetic Motor Controllers (NLDX)
- Manual Motor Controllers (NLRV)
- Motor Controllers-Miscellaneous (NMFT)
- Miscellaneous Apparatus (NMTR)
- Switches, Industrial Control (NRNT)
- Programmable Controllers (NRAQ)
- Proximity Switches (NRKH)
High-Voltage Industrial Control Equipment
- Motor Controllers, Over 1500 V (NJHU)
- Motor Controller Accessories, Over 1500 V (NJIJ)
- Medium Voltage Power Conversion Equipment (NJIC)
Power Conversion Equipment
- Power Conversion Equipment (NMMS)
Locks for Safes
- Mechanical Dial Combination Locks (Group I and Group II)
- Electronic Locks
- Biometric Locks
Baseefa is a British certification body for equipment intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. It is based in Buxton, Derbyshire, England...
— a similar organization in the UK
- Canadian Standards Association
The Canadian Standards Association, also known as the CSA, is a not-for-profit Standards organization with the stated aim of developing standards for use in 57 different areas of specialisation...
a similar organization in Canada; also serves as a competitive alternative for USA products
- ETL SEMKO
ETL SEMKO is a division of Intertek Group plc specialising in electrical product safety testing, EMC testing, and benchmark performance testing. ETL SEMKO operates more than 30 offices and laboratories on six continents...
— a competing testing laboratory, part of Intertek; based in London, UK
- IAPMO R&T
IAPMO R&T was started in 1936 as a third-party listing agency specializing in plumbing and mechanical products. IAPMO R&T is accredited to certify products that meet the criteria of the Uniform Plumbing Code, Uniform Mechanical Code, Uniform Solar Energy Code, Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub...
— a competing certification body, based in Ontario, California, USA
- MET Laboratories, Inc.
MET Laboratories, Inc is an independent electrical testing and certification lab, recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration...
— a competing testing laboratory based in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
- NTA Inc
NTA Inc is a nationally recognized testing laboratory and third party certification agency headquartered in Nappanee, Indiana, USA.- About NTA :NTA evaluates and certifies products for the residential and commercial building industry....
— a competing certification agency based in Nappanee, Indiana, USA
Sira is a UK-based Notified Body, specialising in ATEX, IECEX and North American product approvals. It began life as the British Scientific Instrument Research Association in 1918 and was once part of a larger group of British engineering companies, based in south London, that designed test...
— a similar organization for the UK/Europe
TÜVs are German organizations that work to validate the safety of products of all kinds to protect humans and the environment against hazards. As independent consultants, they examine plants, motor vehicles, energy installations, devices and products TÜVs (short for Technischer...
— a similar German approvals organisation
Ansi is a village in Kaarma Parish, Saare County, on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia....
- Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is an American magazine published monthly by Consumers Union since 1936. It publishes reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services based on reporting and results from its in-house testing laboratory. It also publishes cleaning and general buying guides...
- Consumers Union
Consumers Union is a non-profit organization best known as the publisher of Consumer Reports, based in the United States. Its mission is to "test products, inform the public, and protect consumers."...
- Fire test
A fire test is a means of determining whether or not fire protection products meet minimum performance criteria as set out in a building code or other applicable legislation. Successful tests in laboratories holding national accreditation for testing and certification result in the issuance of a...
- Good Housekeeping Seal
- National Sanitation Foundation
Norges Elektriske Materiellkontroll is a Norwegian private organization that supervises safety testing for electrical equipment manufacturing....
- Product certification
Product certification or product qualification is the process of verifying that a certain product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests or qualification requirements stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications...
- Quality control
Quality control, or QC for short, is a process by which entities review the quality of all factors involved in production. This approach places an emphasis on three aspects:...
- Safety engineering
Safety engineering is an applied science strongly related to systems engineering / industrial engineering and the subset System Safety Engineering...
UL 94 is a plastics flammability standard released by Underwriters Laboratories of the USA.The standard classifies plastics according to how they burn in various orientations and thicknesses...
, a flammability standard