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Coffee Break Bulletin

How to Identify and Contact a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory

Updated: Nov. 5, 2021

Fire and building officials are confronted from time to time with the need for professional product, equipment, process or chemical testing inspection and evaluation services. The model codes refer to the term “nationally recognized” testing laboratories but give little selection guidance.

Requirements for listed and labeled products and systems

Model building and fire codes often require fire and life safety products and systems for use in the built environment to be “listed” and “labeled.”

The model codes provide a definition for listed that incorporates 3 key elements:

  1. An independent, third-party testing organization acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
  2. The tested products are subject to a periodic inspection.
  3. The testing and evaluation are done in accordance with a specific product safety standard.

When labeled, such products or systems have a confirmation of compliance with the definition of listed.

Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories list

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains a list of nationally recognized testing laboratories (NRTL) that meet specific OSHA program requirements. Some code authorities use the NRTL list to determine whether labs demonstrate compliance with the model code definition to list and label products and systems regulated by model fire, building, electrical and life safety codes.

The OSHA NRTL list has specific information about each lab in the recognition program, including the recognized lab-approved testing sites and the specific standards for which each lab is recognized under this program. The labs on the list may be retained to determine that specific equipment and materials meet consensus-based safety standards, providing assurance that these products and systems are safe for use in the U.S. workplace.

Testing laboratories selected from the NRTL list are used to evaluate products, equipment, processes, materials or chemicals to verify compliance with model building and fire codes and standards. The codes official has the authority to approve a testing laboratory from this list or other test facilities not on the list.

Action step to learn more about testing laboratories

Some OSHA regulations require NRTL certification of products and systems. OSHA's NRTL Program also recognizes private sector organizations that can perform certification as an assurance that products and systems meet the requirements in OSHA standards. For additional information on how OSHA recognizes testing laboratories, visit the OSHA website.

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