U.S. Government Supports Improving Appliance Safety in ASEAN

Fifty ASEAN electrical safety regulators and private sector representatives came together in Cambodia this week in an effort to boost safety standards for electrical and electronic equipment manufacturing in ASEAN. The U.S. Government supported Applied Safety Science and Engineering Techniques(ASSET™) workshop for electrical and electronic equipment focused on the adoption of a safety management process that will improve and bring greater consistency of standards to appliance manufacturing across the region.

The ASEAN region is an important player in global electronics. Currently the world’s fifth largest producer, ASEAN serves as a significant global manufacturing hub for electronic and electrical goods with a global production share of about 10 percent.  Likewise, in 2010, electrical and electronic products accounted for 13.6 % of ASEAN total exports (valued at US$ 145 billion) and 13.8% of ASEAN total imports (valued at US$135 billion).  These numbers are all likely to rise, as ASEAN’s burgeoning middle class demand more high-tech products and as the region’s reputation for quality manufacturing continues to grow.

The workshop, which was conducted by an expert from Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL), was held back-to-back with the annual meeting of the ASEAN Joint Steering Committee on Electrical and Electronic Equipment (JSC-EEE).  The ASSET process was developed by UL.

“This workshop is part of the U.S. Government’s continuing effort to support ASEAN in its community building program,” said Ms. Jennifer Wilson, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Development Mission for Asia, in her welcoming remarks at the workshop. She also noted that, “As a collaboration between USAID, ASEAN and Underwriters’ Laboratories, this event is a prime example of public-private sector partnerships at work.”

Participants learned about the basic relationship between different types of hazards in electrical and electronic equipment – in particular, those which may cause exposure and harm to persons, property and the environment – and were presented with models and tools to help analyse risk and safeguard against such hazards.

The JSC-EEE Co-Chair, Mr. Steven Tan, noted that “improving the safety of electrical products has been a priority of ASEAN Member States. Incorporating standards and risk assessment techniques such as ASSET will enhance the safety of products and complement the end goal of compliance with international standards.”

Thomas Lanzisero, P.E., a Senior Research Engineer at Underwriters’ Laboratories Inc. who conducted the course, explained that “UL’s ASSET process is presented as a standard framework to address safety and its management, to support the development and use of published international or industry consensus standards, codes and regulations.  The objective of this process is to achieve, maintain and continuously improve safety. In this particular workshop, we are applying the process to electrical and electronic equipment hazards, but its guiding safety principles can be applied to virtually any industry and product segment.”

The technical knowledge imparted by the workshop will benefit manufacturers, product designers, and representatives from conformity assessment bodies and national standards bodies who are directly involved in the design, manufacture and testing of electrical and electronic equipment.

The Applied Safety Science and Engineering Techniques workshop was organized by the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility, in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and Underwriters’ Laboratories.  os. The program assists teachers living in rural areas to understand the principles of using information technology in the classroom for better learning. This includes developing effective lesson plans using IT and accessing online teaching materials suitable for the Lao curriculum in sciences and English language.

The ASEAN-U.S. Rural Connectivity for Education Grant Program was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the U.S. State Department and ASEAN Secretariat.