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What is ETL Certification?


As we move into the future, a host of industries are laying out stricter and stricter safety guidelines for their manufactured products, as well as the specialized equipment they use in order to make them. Of course, this equipment is subject to a number of safety standards, from manufacturing to installation, all the way to use. For manufacturing equipment, specifically, the best way – and in some cases, the legal way – to ensure that OSHA compliance standards are met is to seek and receive a third-party certification.

While there are a handful of different certifications out there, one of the most widely-used is Intertek’s range of ETL certifications. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them so unique.

ETL Certification Definition

The ETL mark, short for Edison Testing Laboratories, is, in part, an equipment safety certification program operated by the laboratory, Intertek. Intertek is one of the few NRTLs (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories), a third-party testing program which is overseen by OSHA. The ETL Mark includes a number of different variations that are designed to fit within the safety and/or sanitation standards of the product, including the operating and purchasing regions.

In order to be awarded the ETL mark, the manufacturer must undergo an intricate certification process, which includes a photograph, description, and a design/optional prototype submission, a quote agreement, official follow-ups, facility assessments, and more. After the process is completed, the manufacturer and/or user of the certified equipment can then affix an ETL mark using a robust equipment label or tag that is built to last.

ETL Certification Benefits and Alternative Laboratory Options


Screenshot via OSHA.gov

Getting a product certified by a third-party laboratory is a compulsory step in guaranteeing that the user is compliant with any and all safety and sanitary regulations – but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t wiggle room when it comes to the selection of the third-party laboratory.

For instance, UL (Underwriters Laboratories) grants a competing certification to Intertek’s ETL. Both labs are OSHA-recognized NRTLs that offer similarly-tested marks that are accepted in many of the same regions. The availability of alternative options is great news for the party seeking the certification. As pricing and testing schedules can vary with demand, it’s not unusual for manufacturers to flip-flop between UL and ETL certification for identical products. That said, companies that are shipping equipment for international use are generally more likely to select the ETL certification when possible, as customs agents, code inspectors, and other officials based outside of the United States or Canada are more familiar with the ETL Listed mark (more on this next).

ETL Listed Mark Explained

ETL Listed

Screenshot via Intertek.com

As mentioned, there are several different ETL certification marks that may be granted based on the design of the equipment’s corresponding standards, as well as the region in which it will be installed. One of the more versatile marks is the ETL Listed mark, the fastest-growing safety certification mark in North America. The ETL Listed mark is currently the most adaptable certification granted by Intertek. The process is similar to its classic ETL alternative, except that ETL Listed is specifically designed for both the United States and Canadian markets. Because both countries have such stringent safety laws, the certification is also recognized by many other international markets, too.

For products that will be shipped to EU countries, ETL also has a variation of Listed called the ETL-EU Mark. This certification is the first of its kind and, like Listed, the mark is recognized in a host of other regions.

ETL Sanitation Mark Explained

Next is the ETL Sanitation Mark, which is designed to go hand-in-hand with the classic ETL certification as well as ETL Listed. The Sanitation certification has been established to ensure that both U.S. and Canada-based food, health, and beauty manufacturing sites are in full compliance with all measures relating to sanitation. To maintain this certification, the manufacturing site must undergo a series of future testing and inspections.

ETL Verified Mark Explained

The ETL Verified Mark is something of an anomaly as it has been established for two distinct purposes: 1) to indicate that the product is safe and in compliance with all applicable standards, and 2) to serve as a differentiator for products and brands in competitive markets. This means that products that are ETL Verified are tested for both safety and effectiveness.

For instance, ETL Verified ensures that:

  • Cabling products are verified for bandwidth
  • Dishwashers are verified for cleaning ability
  • LED Traffic Signals are verified for design qualification testing requirements of ITE specifications
  • Verification of NFPA 1851 Independent Service Providers (ISP) are verified organizations involved with repairing and maintaining firefighting garments

As illustrated, products and facilities that bear an ETL mark are made to undergo every OSHA-mandated testing standard. Additionally, some ETL-marked products also give companies a competitive advantage within their respective markets. Intertek, as well as all competing NRTLs, are here to provide the manufacturer with important testing processes and methods to acquire the certifications.

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