International Accreditation Services (IAS) has accredited G&M Compliance as a Field Evaluation Body (FEB). Our accreditation status can be found at: https://www.iasonline.org/services/field-evaluation-bodies/.
This gives G&M’s field label a broader acceptance, allowing us to better serve our customers.
What is a Field Evaluation?
A Field Evaluation is an inspection of equipment that has been installed in the field, but does not bear the listing mark of a Nationally Recognized Test Lab (NRTL), e.g. UL, CSA, TUV, etc., or that has been modified from its originally listed configuration. A Field Evaluation is conducted to nationally recognized standards as applicable in the field.
What is the Difference Between Field Evaluation and NRTL Listing?
Also known as UL Re-Certification or Third Party Approval, Field Evaluations often get confused with NRTL Listings/Certifications. So what is the difference?
An NRTL Listing is an ongoing, factory level certification type where the evaluation of a representative test sample is conducted in a laboratory setting. Once the listing is issued, the manufacturer is permitted to apply the NRTL label on equivalent products at the factory. The factory is subsequently subject to periodic surveillance inspections. NRTL Listings are commonly known as UL Certifications. Although UL is one of the most well-known NRTLs, they are not the only game in town. An NRTL listing process requires the following:
- NRTL must be accredited by OSHA to conduct listing certifications;
- Product is to be tested at an approved laboratory;
- Full testing of the product under all foreseeable conditions is required;
- A detailed report of the evaluation and construction is generated;
- Quarterly (or sometimes semiannual) factory inspections are conducted
- NRTL certification label must be applied at the factory.
A Field Evaluation is a one-time, installation level approval, where the evaluation of the product is intended to be conducted at the installation site. If the product is found to be compliant with applicable requirements a Field Evaluation label is placed on the evaluated product. A Field Evaluation requires the following:
- Field Evaluation Body (FEB) must be approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ);
- Product is tested in the field;
- Testing conducted depends on conditions encountered in the field;
- Report describing critical features and install location is generated;
- Field Label is applied in the field.
Who Requires Field Evaluations?
A Field Evaluation is generally required by an AHJ e.g., city inspector, utility, or other government agency. If the AHJ requests an outside evaluation, they will generally refer to the outside entity as a third party, so if they ask for a third party approval, that is equivalent to a Field Label. A Field Evaluation could also be a customer requirement to confirm that equipment in the workplace meets a minimum level of safety. This last type of requirement would generally be part of the product’s purchase agreement.
Can a Field Label be Used in Lieu of an NRTL Certification Label?
An NRTL Listing can take several months to complete and be up to 10x the cost of a Field Evaluation, so this question is worth asking. As previously mentioned, many people are not clear on the differences between Field Evaluations and NRTL Certifications. We find that most of the time the intent of customer driven requirements is to have a credible, recognized, certification entity confirm that the product or limited production run meets basic safety requirements. In these cases, a field type of certification will generally suffice.
Does it Matter Who Performs a Field Evaluation?
Even though all NRTL Listing agencies are accredited by OSHA, one NRTL mark may be more acceptable to or recognizable by target customers than another, thereby giving some marks a greater marketability. In comparison, a Field Evaluation is conducted when a product is already installed or about to be installed. At this point, the players are generally fixed: The customer, the building department, and the utility are all known. When it comes to selecting a Field Evaluation Body (FEB), the main question is are they acceptable to the requesting party? This is generally easy to confirm. Once an FEB is confirmed to be acceptable, the remaining decision-making factors become more familiar: cost, availability, easy to work with, etc. Don’t limit yourself to the brand name options; smaller FEBs can be more flexible and cost effective.
G&M Compliance’s Credentials
G&M is accredited for Competency of Field Evaluation Bodies (FEBs) outlined in NFPA 790, and we follow the Recommended Practices for Equipment Evaluation specified in NFPA 791. Most importantly to our customers and local jurisdictions alike, G&M is a team of seasoned field evaluation veterans, with experience to understand the intent of the specifications, and apply the concepts across a variety of equipment and installation conditions.
G&M field engineers have the experience and expertise to competently assess equipment in the field, and to quickly ascertain if it meets the intent of applicable safety standards. G&M specializes in the following areas:
- Re-certification of UL Listed Switchgear
Almost all switchgear installed in the U.S. is UL Listed. Modifications made to an existing UL certified piece of switchgear invalidates the original listing. As a result, both utilities and local electrical inspectors will require a field inspection or re-certification of panels where bus taps are made on the line or load side of the main circuit breaker. G&M has evaluated many different types switchgear modifications. We will assist during the planning stage, so as to avoid surprises during the power shut-down.
- Third Party Approval of Factory Equipment
Machinery and industrial equipment generally do not carry NRTL certifications even if they are made here in the states. This is due to the limited production and the expense of listing large, complex equipment. This type of equipment is often “Red-Tagged” by building inspectors when moved into a new facility, even when it is brand new. We have worked on equipment from all over the world and always try to use a common-sense approach in evaluating the safety of these products.
- Field Evaluation of Products from Asia
Industrial products built in Asia, and particularly China, often are not NRTL Listed or designed to meet U.S. safety requirements. Unlisted products are frequently Red-Tagged by local electrical inspectors which prevents their use until a safety evaluation is performed. To avoid expensive delays and the costs of retrofitting and customization of equipment on site, it is best to have a compliant product delivered from the factory. G&M has an office in China with engineers that can perform preliminary safety assessments. Our local field inspection experts in the U.S. work with our engineering team in China to communicate mandatory U.S. requirements and bring products into compliance before they ship.
For more information, additional questions, or to request a quote – Please submit an online RFQ, request for information, or call.