Safety Concerns Regarding Electronics & IT Products – How Far Are We ?

Dr. Bharat Kumar Yadav has more than 21 years of experience in standards. Presently he is working on safety standards in electronics & IT including matters related to “Electronics and IT Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012 (CRO)” at Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

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The aim of the article is to spread safety awareness among consumers, manufacturers, importers, and traders of electronics and IT goods. Moreover, it is indented to provide a brief overview on the world of standards, national/international markings which ensures safety and quality of products, their origin, and their significance in the era of globalization.

Global scenario

The world of electronics and information technology is growing very fast and dynamic changes are taking place in the world arena. Like India, all over the world, the market is being flooded with different type of electronic goods (cheap as well as quality products). However, there is a considerable difference in mindsets of the consumers of developed and developing countries. In developing countries, mostly price of the product remains one of major deciding factors during any purchase over the safety and quality concerns. On the other hand, in developed countries, usually consumer pays more attention on safety and quality of the products than other relevant parameters. Moreover, the manufacturers and governments are also quite pro-active to maintain standard and take safety measures for all types of gadgets and home/industry appliances. Such type of sentiments usually remains major dominating factors behind the momentum of market and the game of demand and supply becomes concentric around it.

Indian market scenario

Safety awareness regarding electronics and IT products is at inception stage among Indian consumers. Once in a while, electronic Medias or featured articles in newspapers/ magazines draw attention and sometimes people use to think around and discuss over general aspects of safety-related issues, like, what should be safe distance to watch TV; safe conditions to use Desk Top/Lap Top for a long time; precautions regarding the use of mobile etc. Notwithstanding, the large Indian market is driven by prize cautious consumers rather than safety and quality cautious peoples. It is well experienced that even, so-called well-educated smart people do not pay much attention towards safety aspects of the most popular electronics gadgets, like mobile, laptop, microwave oven, TV, etc.

However, the situation is slightly different for electrical home appliances. For example, whenever you go to buy an immersion rode or electric iron, apart from required power ratings, you might have been searching for “ISI mark over it, why? Perhaps, it is because that many of us sub-consciously believe that if any electrical home appliance is bearing an “ISI” mark over it, means, it is much safer than the stuff with no mark. We even get ready to pay slightly more money for the product bearing the ISI mark. So, what it indicates? It reveals that we are cautious and have safety concerns regarding “electrical appliances”, which is forcing our mind to think over it. Interestingly, the change has not occurred overnight, rather, it took a long time to educate people about the importance of “ISI” mark and now the consumer know that the mark is a symbol of safety. It is because, anybody cannot use the mark voluntarily; instead, a manufacturer/importer can affix “ISI” mark on his product only after getting a license from BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards).

Safety concerns at a glance

Apart from the normal electronics gadgets, the craze of wearable electronics is gaining momentum; hence, the safety concerns of electronic gadgets become more important. Although, the trend is influencing all age groups children are being more vulnerable than others.  The use of electronic gadgets among children has been reached a revolutionary stage. As a result, children are suffering from various health issues, like back pain, weak eyesight etc. There are several things, which may affect our body considerably including, safety hazards like electric shock, electromagnetic emission, UV emission, blue light hazard etc. Such parameters need to be checked critically before allowing the product into the market.

The footsteps towards change

A bright part of the gray story is that an ecosystem has been developed during last few years. During parching of home appliances and electronic gadgets, the Indian consumer now sometimes may be seen wandering and asking for standard marks like ISI mark (for electrical safety and performance), BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) star rating (for performance) and BIS Registration No. with Standard mark (for safety standards in electronics & IT). Apart from the aforementioned markings, there are certain international standard markings on products. Their markings are well established and trusted across the globe. We will discuss these international standard marking in next section.

Standards and their significance

A word “standards” has been used at many places in this article which may be rising many questions, like what is standards? What is their requirement? How are they influencing our day-to-day life? etc. Let us examine the things step-by-step.

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