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  • Feature Story

How UL Develops Standards for a Safer, More Sustainable World

A man in a burgundy shirt holds a light bulb in his left hand, which is placed over a smart pad.

May 14, 2019

What do you do when a new technology comes along for which a Standard has yet to be established? We spoke with Joseph Musso and Deborah Prince, both of whom are Standards program managers for Standards Development, UL’s non-profit arm of the organization, to learn more about the Standard Process.

Infographic showing how we make a standard

What is a Standard?

Standards function as a benchmark for products, services and new technologies. A UL Standard is built on the scientific testing of a product’s materials, systems, components and performance. A Standard sets the guidelines around how a product is made, the materials used, the sourcing of materials and other relevant considerations to help ensure the safe use of a product, service or technology.

How is a Standard developed?

The process first starts with a proposal to create a new Standard or revise an existing Standard. Proposals for UL Standards are submitted through our online portal, the Collaborative Standards Development System (CSDS).

The proposal is then shepherded through the development process which includes oversight by the Standards Technical Panel (STP). STP panelists and public review participants can comment on the proposed Standard with the possibility of several iterations occurring during the Standard’s drafting period. Once a consensus has been achieved, the Standard undergoes final processing and publication.

Who can submit a proposal?

Anyone, at any time, can submit a proposed change to the standard using UL’s Collaborative Standards Development System.

What is an STP?

An STP is a group of individuals, representing a variety of interests connected to the UL Standard, formed to review proposals for new Standards or revisions to existing Standards.

Who can sit on an STP?

Anyone can apply to join an STP, but the panels are a carefully organized mix of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, consumer groups, commercial and industrial users, supply chain, manufacturers and general interest groups, such as academia.

UL strives to have no interest group make up a third of panelists, and UL has no interest group over 50% or more.

What is UL’s role in the development of Standards?

UL’s not-for-profit parent serves as a Standards Development Organization and drives the Standards Development Process.

How many votes does it take to pass a Standard?

Two-thirds of the STP returning a ballot must approve the Standard, and a majority of the STP must return a ballot.

Who oversees UL Standards?

Approximately 80% of UL Standards are approved by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). UL also has the ability and accreditation to develop Canadian National Standards (CNS).