Certifying the Standard

Certification can increase consumer confidence in a product - as well as satisfy state and federal requirements.
Cicely Enright

What can SEI do for you? 

According to Tim Brooke, the answer to that question is: “Meet all your certification needs.”

Brooke recently took over the helm of the ASTM International affiliate on the retirement of Pat Gleason, who built the organization into a premier certification provider over the last few decades.

Certification, often needed to satisfy governing bodies or regulatory requirements at the state
or federal level, increases consumer confidence as well.

And whether it’s personal protective equipment (where SEI first made its mark); sports and recreation goods; or environmentally friendly products through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program called BioPreferred, SEI stands ready to do more of what it does best: independent, third-party certification. 

A Thorough Approach 

SEI provides independent, third-party certification programs for safety and protective products.

That approach means SEI staff work with qualified outside auditors as well as accredited laboratories that perform the quality audits and product testing. The labs that run the tests check whether the product meets the requirements of the relevant standard. 

READ MORE: Metal Detector Certification Program Launched

In each and every case, “We have products tested according to a standard developed by a consensus-based organization, and we perform quality audits at manufacturing facilities,” says Tricia Hock, SEI director of certification operations.  “In fact, the audit process helps set SEI certification programs apart from our competition.” The outside labs that test the products must be accredited, and SEI ensures that the lab has the capability to perform the necessary tests in a particular standard. 

“SEI can be an independent voice and say, here’s what the manufacturer says it should do, and here’s what the standard says it should do, and SEI says we have taken that product and tested it independently,” says Bradley Sant, senior vice president of safety and education for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, as well as a member of the SEI board.

Another board member, Karen Lehtonen, vice president of innovation and product development at Lion Group Inc., agrees: “To those who utilize certification services for their products, it also shows a level of quality and consistency. From an end user perspective, it is a way to identify products undergoing additional levels of scrutiny. Even for the unassuming user who does not know what that symbol means, there is peace of mind behind the mark.”

As a result of SEI certification, businesses, consumers, and others can see the mark and know that a product meets the performance requirements of a particular standard. As a result, these certified products support the safety and wellbeing of those who use them.

Program Samples

Sports and athletics form one category of SEI certification programs. 

For example, SEI runs an equestrian helmet program, ensuring that riding headgear meets requirements of the specification for protective headgear used in horse sports and horseback riding (F1163). The U.S. Pony Club states that helmets must meet F1163 and be SEI-certified for participants in U.S. Equestrian Foundation activities. The standard calls for conditioning the helmet (with regard to temperature and moisture) and evaluated with an impact attenuation (head acceleration limitation) and strength/stability tests.

Similarly, US Lacrosse — the sport’s national governing body — this year announced that all women’s lacrosse eyewear must be SEI-certified to the specification for eye protectors (F3077). The safety gear, which helps protect the eyes, must meet certain optical and mechanical requirements to be certified. 

For sports equipment, according to Hock, consumers are looking more and more for the SEI mark when shopping in big box stores.

Industrial and occupational safety is another area with SEI programs. The latter includes safety eyewear and face protectors as well as head and body equipment such as helmets, boots, gloves, and garments. One category — required to claim compliance with National Fire Protection Association equipment standards — covers firefighting equipment, emergency medical garments, HAZMAT suits, fire service ropes,
even self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). 

“We’re the only organization that provides certification for self-contained breathing apparatus,” Hock notes.

The Environment Too

SEI has also become involved with certifying products that can become part of the BioPreferred program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program, which promotes products from renewable materials, is administered by SEI. 

The BioPreferred program takes in 14,000 products in more than 100 categories:

  • Household and industrial cleaning products
  • Bath and personal care products
  • Fertilizers
  • Inks
  • Paints and coatings

The process of measuring biobased content depends on an ASTM International standard: the test method for determining biobased content of solid, liquid, and gaseous samples using radiocarbon analysis (D6866). Products are submitted to a laboratory that can test according to the standard. And products meeting the requirements can be labeled accordingly.

Through the U.S. government’s purchasing power, BioPreferred helps increase the demand for biobased products. Today, more than 3,000 products feature the Biobased product label.

Consider Certification

If your industry could benefit from third-party, independent certification, contact SEI. Hock says they are ready to explore possible programs. That’s what they’re already doing with technical committees such as security systems and equipment (F12) and homeland security applications (E54), which have developed standards used in certification programs.

Lehtonen notes, “SEI’s value has always been their level of involvement in the industries they serve. They are not just offering certification to a standard, they are involved in the industry groups helping to address their needs and also helping to educate why certification is valuable to the user.”

“People depend on SEI to help ensure that the products they buy are safe, not just here but around the world,” Sant says. And SEI is ready to provide guidance.

“We have staff available to work with the various ASTM technical committees, to guide them, and to help them with certification programs if they deem them necessary,” adds Hock. “There are a lot of components for third-party certification, and we’re here to help.” 

For more information, contact Tricia Hock at thock@seinet.org.

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