LEGAL METROLOGY OVERVIEW
The Legal Metrology Act was promulgated in August 2014 and expanded the scope of Legal Metrology to include measurements made in the fields of health, safety, and the environment. The promulgation of the Legal Metrology Act places South Africa on par with many developed countries and well in advance of many developing countries especially some of our trading partners.
Legal Metrology is responsible for the implementation of a regulatory and compliance system for legal metrology and for the administration and maintenance of legal metrology technical regulations to promote fair trade and to protect public health, safety, and the environment. Legal Metrology further provides market surveillance inspections to ensure compliance with legal metrology technical regulations. These activities are performed under the authority of the Legal Metrology Act, 2014 (Act 9 of 2014).
Legal Metrology contributes to the orderly conduct of commerce, the protection of all participants in the market of goods and services, and the promotion of consumer and international confidence in trade and legal measurements, by ensuring equity and correctness in all dealings where measuring instruments are used as a basis for the transaction.
Legal Metrology Activities
The following is a list of activities undertaken to give effect to the requirements of the Legal Metrology Act and Regulations:
Type Approval of measuring instruments used in trade; health; safety and Environment.
Is the evaluation process to ascertain whether measuring instruments are compliant or not with applicable national standards and technical regulations. A Type Approval certificate shall be issued on successful completion of the evaluation of the measuring instrument submitted. Based on trends over the last 20 years and an analysis of the available staff as well as available man-hours all submissions for type approval projects will be completed within an average processing time of 120 working days per application.
Type evaluation of Gaming Equipment
Legal Metrology is also responsible for evaluating test reports from NGB licensed test laboratories to determine compliance with the requirements of the compulsory specifications with the view of issuing a LOC for compliant gaming and gambling equipment under the authority of the National Gambling Act, 2004 (Act 7 of 2004). Issuing of a Letter of Certification, after evaluation of test report to specific requirements in relation to hardware and/or software of gambling machines. From Gaming analysis, it is evident that all applications for LOCs will be issued within an average processing time of 21 working days per application.
Market surveillance is conducted to ensure compliance with the prescribed requirements of the Legal Metrology Act, 2014 (Act 9 of 2014) and Regulations; prepacked goods and measuring instruments are inspected for compliance to the requirements for the sale of goods, approval, and verification status of measuring instruments.
o pre-packaged goods to prevent non-complying in terms of short measured or/and incorrect labeling to entering the market.
o measuring equipment to prevent the use of false, defective, or inaccurate measuring instruments.
o Application of sanctions in instances of non-compliance through embargoes/rejection, warnings, and recommendations for prosecution
Designation of verification and repair bodies
This is a process of ascertaining compliance to legislation through performing accreditation assessments against policies and processes as well as their compliance to regulatory requirements. Private organizations can be designated as a verification and repair body. A letter of designation is issued to competent/accredited laboratories to verify or repair measuring instruments under the control of Legal Metrology. Certificates of Designation will only be issued to all successful applications that met all prescribed criteria. In the monitoring of the designation, the Legal Metrology unit and SANAS conducted annual assessments at verification and repair laboratories. o Provide lead and technical assessors expertise to the SANAS Verification and Repair Laboratory Accreditation Program
Verification is the process of determining whether instruments are in compliance to type approval requirements and accurate within the tolerances as prescribed by the Legal Metrology Act.
Assess and certify the competence of Verification Officers and that of repairer through written and practical examinations by NRCS assessors. The Verification Officer and repairer Certificate will be issued to all successful candidates once the following has been completed. o Evaluation and registration of verification officers working in accredited verification bodies/laboratories. o Evaluation and registration of repairers working in accredited repair bodies/ laboratories
To provide calibration service to our verification laboratories (client), market surveillance inspectors, and type approval with the aim of ensuring traceability to National Standards (Physical) of the working standards used to do verification and inspection. On completion of the calibration process, the client or regional office will be issued with a calibration certificate. It is a requirement of the Legal Metrology Act that all working standards be calibrated 12 monthly. Legal Metrology further provide calibration service for to industry to ensure accurate, traceable to International and National standard on the following: o Masspieces and o volumetric measures
Quantity control registration scheme
Quantity control registration scheme to pre-packers facilitating smooth trade both national and international. o e-mark for importers and local manufacturers o € for Measuring Container Bottle manufactures
Quality Management Systems
Legal Metrology adopted and maintains a number of Management System to ensure the level of confidence in operations through consistent application and interpretation of requirements. o The type approval and calibration laboratories are accredited under ISO 17025, o Market surveillance function is accredited under ISO 17020
Harmonizing of International, Regional and Local Standards
This is achieved through participation in strategic Structures and Technical Committees on an International, Regional and National level. This process includes hosting of the secretariat in some committees, commenting, and voting in the interest of South Africa. In response to demands for goods that are safe and environmentally friendly, governments and their regulators are adopting various approaches when imposing technical regulations. These technical regulations may involve product standards, conformity assessment such as product certification, testing, and inspection, pre-or post-market requirements as well as sanctions if the products fail to meet the technical regulation. As a result of the multiplicity of approaches used by governments and their regulators, it is difficult for enterprises, specifically enterprises from developing countries, to meet requirements in both the domestic and the export market. Access to the appropriate underlying technical institutional capacity, through a strategy supported by Government, is therefore crucial to realizing and maintaining market access for South Africa. The adoption of OIML recommendations is crucial for growth initiatives and sector-specific expansion as they will ensure compliance to international standards as well as to WTO/TBT agreement obligations and will ensure easier market access to foreign markets.
In pursuing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in SADC the member countries finalized a Technical Barrier to Trade Annex to the Trade Protocol in 2008. The aim of the annex is to create a framework in terms of which Southern African Development Community countries can identify, prevent and eliminate unnecessary technical barriers to trade amongst themselves. The focus of the Annex is on harmonizing standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures with a view to facilitate and increase trade. The work of these committees has mostly been reactive over the past years. The opportunity however exists for a more proactive approach that will respond to the SADC Program on Industrial Upgrading and Modernization once it is finalized. Legal Metrology represents South Africa in the Cooperation of Legal Metrology forum called SADCMEL. South Africa further hosts the secretariat and a technical committee on the sale of goods.
There is a need for co-ordination of the technical infrastructure at an African level in order for the infrastructure to be able to respond to the needs of Africa’s industrialization efforts. The objectives of the coordination will be to promote cooperation and collaboration between the sub-regions of Africa in the area of quality infrastructure, the provision of a suitable environment for the production of quality goods and services, thus contributing to industrial development in Africa and the progressive elimination of TBTs amongst the African sub-region.
South Africa is a founding member of the Intra Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS) through its participation in SADCMEL.
International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML)
The International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) is an intergovernmental treaty organization whose membership includes the Member States, countries that participate actively in technical activities, and Corresponding Members, countries that join the OIML as observers. The OIML was established in 1955 in order to promote the global harmonization of legal metrology. Since its inception, the OIML has developed a worldwide technical infrastructure that provides members with metrological guidelines for the elaboration of national and regional requirements concerning the manufacture and use of measuring instruments for legal metrology applications as well as the sale of goods.
South Africa, a member state and is represented by the General Manager of Legal Metrology and continues to play a pivotal role in enhancing South Africa’s competitiveness by ensuring effective participation in various technical committees of the OIML. Legal Metrology also hosts the Secretariat for OIML TC 6 dealing with pre-packaged products.
The OIML Mutual Acceptance Arrangement ("MAA")
The purpose of the MAA is to introduce protocols in the OIML Certificate System which can increase confidence in OIML Certificates and to establish a worldwide multilateral agreement, which offers a wider scope than bilateral or regional agreements. The MAA, which is a framework document, allows for DoMCs which will be signed for categories of instruments in the OIML Certificate System. By signing these DoMCs, participants will declare confidence in the test results issued by other participants.
Participants will be of two kinds:
- Those who issue Test Reports (they will provide evidence of competence, impartiality, and quality);
- Those who utilize Test Results to issue national type approvals
To date, South Africa has signed the MAA as utilizing a member of this scheme. The Legal Metrology unit has the following agreement in place:
Legal Metrology has an MOU with SANAS which addresses all accreditation matters on the relevant regulatory matters relating to verification and repair bodies.
Technical Co-operation Agreement with Namibia
Legal Metrology has a technical co-operation agreement with Namibia dealing with matters of type approval and the recognition of training for Namibian Standards Institute (NSI) employees and for repairers registered by the NSI.
SABS Agency Agreement
Legal Metrology has an agency agreement with the SABS to sell national standards in Bloemfontein on behalf of the SABS.
APPROVAL AND INSPECTION
LISTS OF VCs AND REGULATED PRODUCTS
LEGAL METROLOGY - POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
LM- Type Approval: Evaluation of Measurement Standards General Process
Type Approval: Gambling Section General Process for Submissions
LM- Type Approval: Type Evaluation Section General Process
DATABASE OF APPROVED PRODUCTS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is Legal Metrology?
A. It is the science of measurements divided into three branches namely: scientific, industrial, and Legal Metrology
Legal Metrology is measurements controlled by law concerned with the accuracy of measurements where they have an influence on the transparency of economic transactions, health, and safety.
Q. What does Legal Metrology do?
A. In every transaction, an impartial unseen third party watchdog is an essential element to ensure fair and honest play;
Legal Metrology Business Unit is mandated to ensure that consumers receive the correct measure of goods declared by the importer, manufacturer, or retailer on pre-packaged goods or, where a measuring instrument is used to conclude a transaction, it remains accurate within prescribed limits. In short, both industry and consumers are protected, which ensures fair trade. This is achieved by doing the following:
Ensuring that prescribed measuring instruments used for trade are type approved for proper design, construction and accuracy taking into account South African climate and environment before they are allowed to be sold into the market for trade purposes
Conducting inspection on goods and measuring instruments to ensure that importers, manufacturers, and retailers use approved and accurate measuring instruments for trade and that where there is pre-packing of goods, there is no short measure
Through our calibration laboratory we are providing traceability of accuracy to National Standard for verification and inspection standards, also standard used to approve measuring instruments
Under the National Gambling Act, we are mandated to evaluate and approve gaming hardware and software by issuing a Letter of Certification
Providing technical input into national, regional, and international standard development in the metrology domain. e.g. International Legal Metrology Organization (OIML) SADCMEL and AFRIMETS. The NRCS represents South Africa on the Legal Metrology matters on the forums mentioned above.
Q. What does the e-mark mean?
A. The e-mark is a voluntary registration scheme in terms of SANS 1841, underwritten by NRCS Legal Metrology to ensure a consistent implementation of quantity control measures and gives consumers a guarantee that prepackaged goods bearing the mark are compliant with the average packing system. The scheme is also a mechanism designed to enable Industry to regulate themselves, to instill consumer confidence in pre-packaged goods, and promote international and cross border trade.
Q. What is the registration process for the e-mark bearing importer?
A. Local Packer: The packer must submit an application for assessment of the packer’s quantity control process to the Legal Metrology. The application shall include the complete documentation of the system to be implemented as well as an application form, on which the packer shall include the range of products to be registered under the quantity control scheme. The documentation submitted shall at least include the elements of the quantity control guidelines and the applicable standard.
Importers: Importers must submit an application form, a product list, and proof of compliance of the product(s) as required by the three packing rules to Legal Metrology.