Well the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)1 Program is a managed by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)2. OSHA was created in 1970 by Congress with the mission of overseeing working conditions and training in the United States. The majority of OSHA’s regulations fall into the category of general requirements, so when it came to specific products, rather than regulate them directly, they decided to create the NRTL Program.
Under this program, OSHA approves private sector organizations to performs product certification. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is just one of these OSHA approved NRTLs. There are many others, each with their own range (or scope) of products that they have been authorized to oversee. Depending on the product category, there may be multiple companies with overlapping scopes of approval, meaning you may have more options than just UL.
Once a product has been certified, the NRTL authorizes the manufacturer to use their registered certification mark on the product. While each NRTLs mark is unique, they are all registered with OSHA. As a result their presence signifies compliance with appropriate safety standards.
So why should you care…well, because it means that there are usually more than one compliance company in the game. Sure UL is the biggest but there are plenty of other, sometimes better, options out there worth exploring. Take a look at the list below to see some of the options available.
The following organizations are currently recognized by OSHA as NRTLs:
FM Approvals LLC
Intertek Testing Services NA, Inc.
MET Laboratories, Inc.
QPS Evaluation Services Inc.
SGS North America, Inc.
Southwest Research Institute
TUV Rheinland of North America, Inc.
TUV Rheinland PTL, LLC
TÜV SÜD America, Inc.
TÜV SÜD Product Services GmbH
Underwriters Laboratories Inc.