The Electrical Testing Laboratories mark, ETL, originated with Intertek, a global company that inspects and certifies products to ensure they meet standard safety requirements. Mechanical and electrical products that bear the ETL mark meet set minimum safety requirements. The ETL mark also indicates that the manufacturing company follows a set of compliance measures that include regular inspection processes to verify continued safety measures.
Intertek’s ETL certification covers a broad range of products. Certification indicates that products are safe for consumer use and are in compliance with regulating government regulatory agency requirements. Products from multiple markets and industries can gain the ETL mark, including household appliances, chemicals and textiles. ETL certifiers also test IT products, medical appliances, toys and games and building products such as fire safety and weathering. To receive the ETL mark, products must stand up to rigorous testing, including a “slip and flex cracking resistance” for footwear development in textiles and protein analysis in pharmaceuticals.
Inchcape Testing Service, the ETL testing laboratories, is recognized by Occupational Safety and Health Administration and, as such, bears the distinction of a nationally recognized testing laboratory. The labs are accredited by the American National Standards Institute, which means that you can have confidence that an NRTL laboratory tested your product bearing the ETL mark and that your product passed government safety requirements. Note, however, that the laboratories issuing the ETL mark are not governmental agencies; they are independent laboratories.
Many companies across Canada and the United States accept the ETL standards. An ETL mark that displays “us” on the bottom right of the logo indicates the compliance measure is applicable in the U.S. Similarly, a “c” on the bottom left of the ETL logo means that the standard is applicable in Canada. Other countries use the ETL certification marks for safety standards. For example, the ETL “GS” serves as safety and quality recognition for Germany and EU countries, and the "NOM-GTL" mark indicates that the product meets safety requirement for export into Mexico.
Comparison to UL
The ETL and UL marks hold the same minimum requirements for product safety commonly outlined by OSHA and ANSI. When a product receives an ETL or UL certification, the manufacturer agrees to periodic inspection sessions to verify continued conformance to safety requirements. The only point of distinction between these marks may be the customer service that the laboratories offer. Intertek claims that it helps customers “improve performance, gain efficiencies in manufacturing and logistics, overcome market constraints and reduce risk.”