The first time you ride a roller coaster, you’ll experience thrills and uncertainties at the same time. The ride starts with a smooth ascent to the top. Upon reaching the apex, a mixed feeling of both fear and happiness drives in. And then all of sudden, the coaster drops at lightning speed, which engulfs your brain with question marks on what to expect next.
Just like a roller coaster ride, the product safety industry at times faces similar uncertainties. We are never certain of when we will reach the bottom or conclusion of what some may deem has been a 40-year ride on bumpy surfaces.
The 1871 Chicago fire was one of the hard-hitting tragedies experienced in the city. It killed 300 people, destroyed over 2112 acres of land, thereby leaving 100,000 people without shelter. A local publisher created a story claiming that the fire had been started by a cow kicking over a kerosene lantern in a barn. Nonetheless, it was later established the story was a hoax. Up to date the real cause of the tragedy hasn’t been established yet.
While the devastation of the tragedy cannot be downplayed, it acted as an eye-opener on the importance of instituting lighting product safety standards. Since then, safety standards have been created, reviewed, and published to prevent such tragedies.
Evolution of the Safety Lighting Risks
The lighting industry experienced exponential changes. New lighting inventions have been created over the years, some of which come with many threats. We should therefore try to understand these threats and develop ways to protect ourselves.
Interestingly, many people deem cybersecurity as being completely safe. Well, that may not be the case. Cybersecurity and electronic devices have vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are listed in the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) and can be accessed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) website.
Underwriters Laboratories, which is a company that tests and evaluates the safety of products, has been active in the formulation of lighting product safety measures. They recently issued a new safety standard to be used with the NIST NVD in accessing the risk potential of various products. This UL2900-1 standard is labeled Software Cybersecurity For Network-Connectable Products, Part 1: General Requirements.
According to Micheal Ritto, the business development manager for lighting at UL, product safety transcends protection against electric shock and fire hazards. The safety standards should also incorporate interconnected devices which are prone to cyber threats.
NIST NVD standards are approved by both ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and SCC ( Standards Council of Canada). Products that pass the NIST in the NVD per UL 2900-1 description can be categorized as safe. Moreover, there is an annual re-evaluation of a product to assess its vulnerability to the updated NVD threats. These strict safety measures are an indication that lighting safety is taken seriously, thus, there will be fewer cases of misfortunes related to it.
We must be on the lookout for the new threats that crop up with new lighting inventions. One way of achieving this is by undertaking an active role in the formulation of lighting products policies. However, we should ensure that the regulations put in place do not hinder the creative process of formulating new lighting products.
If you deem yourself brave enough, then hope on to this new roller coaster model, and let’s ride to the future.
Reference: LD+A Magazine – March 2018