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Underwriters Laboratories UL Meaning Overview History

Underwriters Laboratories UL Meaning Overview History

Underwriters Laboratories (UL): Meaning, Overview, History

What Is Underwriters Laboratories?

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is the largest and oldest independent testing laboratory in the United States. It tests 22 billion different products annually, ranging from consumer electronics to medical devices.

Founded in 1894, Underwriters Laboratories offers services in five strategic areas, including product safety, environment, life and health, university, and verification services. The company employs over 14,000 people in 40 countries and is led by CEO Jennifer Scanlon.

Key Takeaways

  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a global not-for-profit safety science company.
  • UL is funded by grants, document licensing, and fees from manufacturers for product certification.

Understanding Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

Underwriters Laboratories is a non-profit organization funded by fees from manufacturers for product certification. UL charges initial evaluation fees and ongoing maintenance fees for follow-up service.

UL’s operations are global, with customers in more than 143 countries. UL Marks appear on 22 billion products annually, and safety messages reach 8.5 million consumers in Asia, Europe, and North America.

History of Underwriters Laboratories

The start of Underwriters Laboratories can be traced back to the 1890 World’s Fair in Chicago. UL’s founder, William Henry Merrill, Jr., proposed the idea of creating an electrical testing laboratory to insurance underwriters at the fair. With funding from Western Insurance Union and the Chicago Underwriters Association, Merrill, Jr. formed the Underwriters Electrical Bureau.

Eventually, the Bureau became the Electrical Bureau of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, with a mission to promote safe working and living conditions. In 1895, the organization hired its first employees and later became Underwriters Laboratories in 1901.

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Under the leadership of Henry Clay Eddy, UL began establishing its first set of safety standards in 1903, starting with tin-clad fire doors.

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