Standards

Standards Matter

With more than 125 years experience developing 1,500+ standards, Underwriters Laboratories continues to break new ground in its mission to help create a safer, more sustainable world.
Father and son in kitchen with tablet, surrounded by technology and appliances

The Power of Standards

The world thrives on innovation, but with every new product or service come new dangers or risks associated with the technology. In order to ensure that new products, systems and services operate safely and effectively, Underwriters Laboratories develops standards that address these risks while guiding the safety, performance and sustainability of new and evolving technologies.

Our safety standards outline the processes in which products are tested to help mitigate risk, injury or danger. In developing these standards, and in revising existing standards, we combine extensive safety research, stakeholder input and scientific expertise with an uncompromising focus on quality.

In addition to ensuring safety, standards can also measure and validate performance, environmental health and sustainability. They can help ensure a smartphone effectively communicates with a smart appliance, or that a life-saving device, such as an automated external defibrillator (AED), is intuitive enough for first-time users. When these procedures are built into the manufacturing process, they can provide consumers, manufacturers and retailers with confidence that their products will operate correctly and effectively.

With more than 125 years of experience and the development of more than 1,500 Standards, Underwriters Laboratories continues to break new ground in its mission to help create a safer, more sustainable world. We certify to international standards-setting bodies and we work closely with other organizations and committees, both inside and outside the U.S., to better unify safety in all industries. If you are interested in partnering with Underwriters Laboratories and taking part in standards development, please connect with us by filling out an STP Application.

Our History

Our work in this area began in 1893, with the showcase of electric lights at the Chicago World’s Fair. With a single switch, President Grover Cleveland lit 100,000 incandescent lights at once, inaugurating the festival and illuminating the entire fairground. Behind the scenes, Underwriters Laboratories founder William Henry Merrill, Jr. had been working to assess fire risks as an electrical inspector. Electricity posed a major fire and electrocution hazard, but through science-based research, Merrill and his team were able to help guide the technology and mitigate these risks. Read more about the history of Underwriters Laboratories on our interactive timeline.

Fast Facts

  • Safety standards are written documents that outline the process in which a product is tested to help mitigate risk, injury or danger.

  • UL Standards is a standard-setting organization that combines extensive safety research and scientific expertise, and brings an uncompromising focus on quality to help create a safer world.

  • UL Standards development covers more than just products — it also includes testing of systems and services.

  • While we’re widely known for our work with safety standards, Underwriters Laboratories develops a wide variety of standards to measure and validate performance, environmental health and sustainability.

  • Underwriters Laboratories also certifies to international standards-setting bodies. We are closely involved with other organizations and committees inside and outside the United States to better unify safety in all industries.

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