Page 4: Testing
Testing is essential when bringing new products and services to market. Businesses need to know that the products they sell to customers meet all requirements for safety and functionality.
Testing and certification bodies can help British and overseas companies with pre-production testing. They have the capability to test a huge variety of industrial and consumer products, like fire extinguishers and medical devices. It can help companies test that the prototype or the initial production run meets requirements.
The idea of fitness for purpose is an important one. Products need to meet consumers' requirements. For example, a zip or other type of fastener should fasten a garment in the way expected.
It is important for companies to be aware of the technical requirements, pre-testing and certification that businesses need to compete in most countries in the world. For example, if a British company wants to sell fire alarms in China, Australia and India, certification bodies can outline and provide the necessary certification.
A product with a Kitemark means BSI has independently tested it and has confirmed that the product conforms to the relevant British Standard. At this stage a BSI license is issued to the company to use the Kitemark. The manufacturer pays for this service and their product is tested, and the manufacturing process is assessed, at regular intervals.
For most standards, compliance is voluntary. However, some standards are essential. Some products, like fire extinguishers, must meet the appropriate health and safety regulations. Without relevant certification, they cannot be sold legally. The CE marking attached to a product is a manufacturer's claim that it meets all the requirements of the European legislation. It is mandatory for some products like toys.
Many manufacturers and exporters need a third-party certification on their products from a Notified Body. A Notified Body provides an independent assessment of the quality of the products. Crash helmets are an example of a product which needs to be independently tested so that it can comply with this European Directive. Once a crash helmet has been tested and certified by a Notified Body, it can then be sold on the market to consumers.