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February 3, 2010
Canada Versus United States
 
 


I had two very interesting phone calls on Monday with both CSA (Canadian Standards Association) and UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) that I wanted to share with my readers.

Background

There is a longtime OptiFuse OEM customer who uses both fuses and fuseholders in their products.  At one time, they used a snap-in panel-mounted fuseholder which allowed them to save production  time. 

The OEM is required to submit their product to UL an CSA and all of the components used in their manufacturing process must meet UL and CSA standards.

After several years of using our fuseholder with no reported problems, a CSA inspector came to their factory and told them they were in violation because the fuseholder they were using was only tested by UL and that CSA does not accept the safety testing performed by a competitor.

The OEM customer was forced to switch to a more expensive and labor intensive fuseholder that was certified by CSA as meeting their standard (as well as meeting UL’s standard).  This occurred, we quickly submitted our snap-in fuseholder to UL to be tested not only to the UL standard but also to the Canadian standard as well acquiring the CUL label.

Phone Call Number 1...the OEM

After delivering new snap-in fuseholders to the OEM (the new fuseholders were the same as the old one but now they carried a CUL stamp on the part), I received a call from the OEM..."Jim, our CSA inspector will not accept CUL...he told me that the fuseholder must be tested and certified solely by CSA...can you please call him to see if you can talk some sense into the inspector?"

Phone Call Number 2...CSA Inspector

I immediately called Manuel Murga of CSA.  He explained to me as a policy, CSA does not accept any UL testing of Canadian Standards even though UL is an independent safety testing organization. 

The reason, as it was explained by Mr. Murga, was that UL’s testing to Canadian standards was different than that of CSA’s testing to Canadian standards and therefore does not qualify the part to be actually certified as safe by CSA.

He told me point blank that since UL does not accept CSA’s testing of UL standards, CSA in turn will not accept UL’s testing of Canadian standards.  Tit for tat...

He also went on to explain that UL knows this fact but still markets the CUL testing to its clients (like OptiFuse) who mistakenly believe that their product is now certified to Canadian standards.

Phone Call Number 3...UL

I then placed a phone call to UL and spoke with several people who confirmed with me that UL does test the product to actual Canadian standards and the CUL marking is accepted by most if not all Canadian municipalities and agencies...of course with the noted exception of CSA!!

When I asked further about why CSA does not accept the CUL testing...it was summed up in one word...POLITICS. 

Lessons to be learned

UL and CSA are competing "for-profit" agencies who are hell-bent at extorting the very last dollar out of their customers and have the absolute power to do so. 

Without a UL Listing and/or CSA Certification, it is illegal to sell electrical products in North America (most states and cities have adopted local ordinances that prohibit by law any product that is not tested to these standards).

It is very apparent that the electronic (and electrical) industry is now caught in the cross-fire between these two competing companies who are more concerned with power and money then they are with public safety.

It’s very unfortunate that these two companies can’t put aside their differences in order to better serve the public that they are entrusted to protect...but I guess that’s the true essence of politics...just look to Washington if you need a further example of a disfunction system...

Thanks to everyone for you continued support of OptiFuse where we fight each day on behalf of our customers.


Jim Kalb
President
OptiFuse
jimk@optifuse.com
 

 
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