Everyone probably recognizes the Underwriters Laboratory or UL symbol. It appears on many products, from Christmas lights to fire doors, and it’s universally recognized as a symbol to trust. UL publishes safety standards for a wide range of products and anything that has a UL symbol has been tested and meets their standards. Unfortunately, counterfeiters use the trust placed in UL to their advantage by trying to copy the UL symbol and putting it on products without actually meeting the high safety standards of UL. Regrettably, this sometimes isn’t discovered until the product fails in some way, which can lead to tragic consequences.
Just a quick glance at the public notice section of UL’s website reveals many warnings of products using a fake UL mark or label. Recent warnings include counterfeit marks on motors, sprinkler heads, power cords, fire extinguishers, USB chargers, and cordless percussion massagers. If these products fail to work as intended, there could be serious and dangerous outcomes.
According to UL, any product with a true UL mark will have four elements: the UL symbol in a circle, the word “LISTED,” the product identity, and a unique four-character alphanumeric control number code assigned by UL. They offer the following warning signs that may indicate a product is using a counterfeit UL mark:
- The label doesn’t include the four elements listed above.
- The product or carton references UL, but doesn’t include a company name or address.
- The product references UL on the carton but not on the product itself.
- Cheap, low-quality workmanship and/or packaging.
- Marks with the letters “U” and “L” side by side instead of staggered, or the words “APPROVED” or “PENDING” instead of “LISTED” or “CLASSIFIED.”
Contractors or other employers utilizing UL products in any aspect of their work should be aware of the possibility of products with counterfeit UL symbols. Only authentic, UL approved products should be used.