Softdel’s Guide to Safety First: Demystifying ISO, UL, And IEC Standards

Softdel's guide to safety first:
demystifying ISO, UL, and IEC standards

Navigating the global market successfully hinges on more than just products—it’s about embracing safety standards. In our interconnected world, reputation is everything, and adhering to these standards isn’t just compliance; it’s a journey toward excellence, trustworthiness, and a distinct edge in a competitive market. Moreover, compliance assurance ensures rigorous product evaluation, meeting safety and quality criteria, forming the bedrock for credible, responsible, and legally compliant businesses. That’s where global standards like the UL, ISO, and IEC come in, to play a pivotal role in facilitating seamless global product acceptance, and creating a safer, more secure business future.

exploring common functional safety standards

While organisations provide the framework for crafting international standards, it is important to acknowledge the diverse safety landscape that exists from country to country. Numerous standardisation bodies operate on international, national, and regional scales, and while regional and national standards may align with international counterparts, a comprehensive safety strategy requires consideration of both global and local regulations.

At the forefront of this effort are esteemed organisations such as ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), and UL (Underwriters Laboratories INC.), all of which are dedicated to ensuring safety and quality standards for electrical and electronic products.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards

IEC, established in 1906, is a global organisation focused on developing international standards for electrical and electronic technologies. With over 10,000 experts, IEC addresses various areas such as energy access, technical innovation, urbanisation, transportation, climate change, infrastructure development, safety, and environmental protection. Their 10,000+ international standards, constituting about 80% of European electric and electronic standards, cover a wide range of sectors.

IEC 61508 - functional safety of electrical / electronic / programmable electronic safety-related systems

This standard adopts a lifecycle approach to functional safety and provides a foundation applicable across various sectors including automotive, chemical, energy, manufacturing, and healthcare, among others. It classifies safety functions into four Safety Integrity Levels – SIL1, SIL2, SIL3, and SIL4 – by assessing the risk, with SIL4 serving as the highest level of protection against severe risks.


Complying with this standard is not mandatory, but is highly recommended, especially as it addresses safety concerns in systems where failure of electronic components could lead to serious consequences.

IEC 60730 – safety standard for household appliances

IEC 60730 is an international standard ensuring safety and performance of automatic electrical controls in household appliances like ovens and HVAC systems. It establishes specific requirements and tests to verify these controls can shut down appliances in case of malfunctions or hazards, minimising risks to users and the environment.


The standard classifies controls into Class A (not for safety), Class B (preventing unsafe operation), and Class C (averting special hazards), with Class C controls designed for functions posing a substantial risk of severe injury or fatality in case of failure.


See how Softdel helped an award-winning enterprise develop a next-gen BMS platform aligned with the IEC 60730 and UL 1998 standards.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards

Founded in 1947, the ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organisation that develops and publishes standards covering various aspects of technology and manufacturing, excluding electric and electronic engineering. With 24978 international standards to date, ISO ensures the quality, safety, efficiency, and interoperability of products, services, and systems. It has 169 national standards bodies worldwide as members, and also publishes guides, technical reports, and technical specifications.

ISO 26262 – functional safety standard for road vehicles

ISO 26262 is a functional safety standard for electrical and electronic (E/E) systems in road vehicles, offering a comprehensive framework for development, validation, and verification to ensure safety and reliability. It employs a risk-based approach, assigning Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASILs) based on severity, hazard probability, and controllability. The standard, updated in 2018, introduces two new standards for semiconductors and motor vehicles, enhancing guidance in areas like model-based development, software safety analysis, fault tolerance, and more.


ISO 26262 is rooted in IEC 61508, the generic functional safety standard. However, it includes additional requirements specific to the automotive industry, such as the ASIL classification system. Although compliance is voluntary, it is increasingly demanded by automotive manufacturers and regulators. Certification to ISO 26262 demonstrates the safety and reliability of E/E systems in vehicles.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards

Founded in 1894, UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a global safety science company known for certifying, validating, testing, and inspecting products and systems to ensure their safety and reliability. As the oldest testing laboratory in the US, UL sets the gold standard for safety across diverse industries. Its international reach, accredited development of over 1,500 standards for the US and Canada, and collaborations with standard bodies worldwide make UL a key player in creating a safer and more sustainable global environment. For companies exporting to North America, UL (and CSA) certifications are essential, signifying product reliability and safety.

UL 991 – tests for safety-related controls employing solid-state devices

UL 991, known as the ‘Standard for Tests for High-Voltage Fuses,’ focuses on the safety and performance of high-voltage fuses in electrical systems. It specifically addresses the unique risks associated with solid-state devices, emphasising rigorous testing to ensure their safe handling of high voltages. The standard adopts a risk mitigation approach, requiring manufacturers to identify and assess potential risks in their products and implement safety measures. Compliance with this internationally recognised standard is crucial to prevent electrical failures, fires, and ensure the overall safety and reliability of electrical distribution systems.

UL 1998 – software in programmable components

UL 1998 is a safety standard for software in programmable components, providing guidelines for their development, validation, and verification, with a focus on safety-critical systems. Similar to UL 991, it outlines rigorous testing procedures to ensure safe and effective operation in real-world applications. Compliance ensures reliable, secure, and safety-compliant software. UL 1998 has two classes: Class 1 controls functions reducing operational and user safety risks, such as door lock control in laundry equipment. Class 2 manages functions mitigating special risks, like explosions, such as thermal cut-offs in closed water heater systems, crucial for preventing hazardous situations and ensuring safe equipment operation.


See how Softdel helped a prominent electronic vehicle manufacturer achieve UL 991 and UL 1998 certification for their range of electronic vehicles.

ISO, UL, IEC, and other safety standards are illuminating a path toward safer and more sustainable products and practices. These standards act as our invisible guardians, ensuring that whether it’s the circuitry in our homes or the machinery on the factory floor, safety and quality are at the forefront. Ultimately, adhering to these standards is a commitment to the safety and well-being of consumers, employees, and the environment.


Safety should always come first, and these standards help us achieve that goal.


Let Softdel assist you in demystifying these standards and support your compliance needs.

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