In accordance with OSHA Safety Standards, any product used in the workplace must be approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). This is needed to ensure that products can be used safely in the workplace. The NRTL approval applies to those products that are used in the workplace that are subject to OSHA’s jurisdiction. This includes many private employers in the USA. This also includes most Federal Government places of employment.
NRTL’s are qualified private organizations that meet the requirements of the OSHA regulations. The NRTLs perform independent safety testing and product certification. Each NRTL must meet the requirements as set for by OSHA in the NRTL program. NRTLs may be based in the USA or in other countries. A listing of current NRTLs may be found at the OSHA web site. The OSHA recognition process is the same for all organizations.
A NRTL performs several functions one of which is to provide safety testing on equipment. The safety testing by the NRTL will ensure that a representative unit of a particular product has met all the necessary safety features. The NRTL must also organize and operate a product certification program that includes listing, labeling, and follow-up programs. The NRTL must make sure that all manufactured units of a particular product have all the required safety features as was initially tested. It should be noted that OSHA does not perform any product approvals but relies on NRTLs to do this work.
A NRTL will work with manufacturers to test and certify products. After successful testing of a product, the NRTL will issue a certification certificate that permits the manufacturer to apply the NRTL’s registered certification mark or symbol on all the units manufactured. This certification mark on the product is important in that it will show to the user of the product that a particular NRTL has tested and certified the specific product. The OSHA web page shows the certification marks generally used by each NRTL. OSHA does not require that the “NRTL” term be use the certification mark. Some NRTL’s have voluntarily included these initials in their certification marks. The use of the NRTL mark does show that the product has been tested against a specific safety standard and the equipment conforms to that standard.
Each NRTL has a scope of accreditation, which will vary between NTRLs. The scope of accreditation is available from the OSHA web page. The NRTL must test and use a US based test standard that is development and maintained by a USA standards developing organization. International test standards may be used if they have been harmonized to USA requirements by a USA standards developing organization. NRTLs have been recognized for more than 600 product safety standards.
The European Union has the CE mark to indicate safety requirements as being met on equipment. The European Union CE mark is not related to the requirement for product safety in the United States. In the USA equipment that is used in the workplace is required to be safety listed and approved by a NRTL. The NRTL safety mark from one of the NRTL’s provides the recognition that the equipment has been tested and certified.
See the OSHA web site for more information on the various aspects of the OSHA NRTL program.