Underwriters Laboratories

What Does Underwriters Laboratories Mean?

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a not-for-profit product safety testing, consulting and certification organization with a global reach and acceptance. UL provides safety-related testing, inspection, auditing, advising, validation and certification, as well as training services to a wide range of organizations including retailers, manufacturers, regulators, policymakers, service companies and even customers. UL provides the expertise and knowledge to help manage the increasing complexity across the supply chain from compliance and regulatory issues to market access and challenges inherent in trade.


Techopedia Explains Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories was founded in 1894 in the US by William Henry Merrill to address the growing need for safety and hazard testing and certification of emerging technologies. It originally only addressed electrical and fire safety concerns until it broadened its scope to cover all aspects of the supply chain regardless of industry such as:

  • Water quality
  • Food safety
  • Hazardous substances
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Performance testing
  • Safety and compliance education

Since its first Standard for Safety publication in 1903 regarding the specifications for constructing tin-clad fire doors, UL has created more than a thousand standards from sustainability of certain technology to standards for creating batteries and life safety standards to be followed in building and factory floors. End users rarely see the "Recognized Component Mark" issued by UL since these are usually placed on components that are intended to be a part of another UL-certified final product. For example, consumers generally do not find this mark on cell phones, but will most likely find it in the different components inside, such as the battery and various ICs.

Underwriters Laboratories currently has 64 laboratories that serve 104 countries.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.