Functional Safety - A New "Mark" From UL

UL offers functional safety certification.


JB TitusUL has added functional safety certification services. Automation suppliers, systems integrators, engineering firms, OEM’s, end-user’s, etc. all have something in common. Their management and design engineers now have a choice regarding the direction they take to obtain safety certifications for hardware and software based products intended for safety applications. One of the market leaders offering these services for the past several years has been the TUV organization. Since around 2002 TUV has been building a U.S. presence with very strong roots in Europe.

UL has historically been one of the market leaders in the U.S. for product certifications as required by various standards, requirements, and/or regulations. However, until recently, UL was not offering services to review, analyze, and certify hardware and software based products for safeguarding applications per the standards, requirements, and/or regulations. Check out the following link at UL’s web site for additional information if this is of interest to you:


This new service from UL, in my opinion, is both needed and confusing. It’s needed because competition is always good in a free market system because it will help drive quality improvements in the services as well reductions in time lines and the costs for these services. On the other hand, some suppliers and end users have already approached me for advice regarding what this means to them? They ask:

  1. Do I have to get safety certification marks from both TUV and UL?
  2. Is one of the two marks more important?
  3. If there’s an “incident” on my machine, will one mark be sufficient in arbitration?
  4. How do I determine which mark for my product?
  5. As an international supplier of safety products, do I need to invest in both marks for a given product? 

In my opinion, we need to start a discussion on this subject to gather comments from across industry. Anything new always causes a stir in the market so let’s see if we can build a US “competitive advantage” around this one!



As a side note – The 2011 updated NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, was previously expected for release this month. The schedule was recently modified and the current expected release date is June, 2011.  

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