Buying weighing scales online can be a difficult thing to do, least of all when there are legalities to consider. In this article I will try to bust some of the myths surrounding trade approved scales and hopefully provide some insight into whether you need it for your business or organisation.
What is NAWI?
Firstly, we should start with the basics. The NAWI directive is what tells us what should and shouldn't be approved. NAWI stands for Non Automatic Weighing Instrument and essentially means a weighing scale that has human interaction at some point along its process.
The NAWI directive tells us that certain weighing scales do not require an approval. This would cover items for use at home, for instance a kitchen scale or a bathroom scale. Even scales used in Gyms do not need to be approved. Whether the gym chooses to use trade approved scales is entirely up to them, but trading standards would not have any control over this.
On an industrial level, scales that are used for internal processes are also not required to be approved. If, however, you are charging or buying by weight and you are declaring a weight for this purpose then your scales need to be checked and verified by a qualified person, organisation or company, in other words Trade Approved.
There are 4 separate classes that govern this directive. Classes I & II would normally be used for a very high accuracy scale, as an example this could be used for weighing precious metals at a jewellers.
Class III is what most approvals fall under in the U.K. and would be used for the following applications:-
- retail and industrial weighing machines
- supermarket checkout weighing systems
- laboratory and pharmaceutical balances and medical weighing machines
Class IIII is generally used in medical environments where a patient’s weight needs to be checked or monitored, but at no stage can medication be prescribed based on weight given by a Class IIII approved scale, this would need to be done on a class III machine.
In short, if you are prescribing by weight, selling by weight or even buying by weight then your scales should be class III approved at the very least. If, however, you are shipping parcels on a courier, doing a stock take or even weighing your pet dog then your scales do not need to be approved.
Are Approved Scales More Accurate?
Not necessarily. A scale being approved means that it has been checked and verified to fall within a certain set of parameters. These parameters are very strict so in theory you are buying an item where quality is a necessity. A non approved scale might be just as accurate, but unless it has been through those same strict tests, sealed and verified then it cannot be used for trading from.
Labelling and Marks
Approved scales will generally have a green M on them and a CE mark. This does not make them approved, though, and simply means they could be should all criteria be met. To be approved your scale will also require the relevant paperwork as well as a tamperproof seal on the instrument to stop the calibration being affected without a re-verification being completed along with other identifying labels and marks.
Don’t be Fooled!
Do not get taken in by cheaper scales for sale on the internet. Recently we have seen a rise on retail scales appearing for around £40 to £50 on various sites. These are not approved and therefore you cannot legally trade by the weight given on them. Should trading standards pay you a visit they will either fine you or shut you down for using illegal scales. It is a false economy to think that anything less than the correct tool for the job will do.
When in doubt, seek advice. Your local Trading Standards office will always offer assistance and information for free as will we. If you have any questions at all then please ask.