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Different Types of Product Users & A New User Type

UL-CSA-EN-IEC Standards; 62368 Introduces New User Type

Different User Types? At first it sounds unusual – how can there be different types of users? But understanding the types of “users” of your product can be very important in determining compliance of the product with UL, CSA, EN, & IEC product safety standards. What types of product users operate your products? What type of user are you?

General User: Household products best represent the first group of users to consider. In most standards, especially household product standards, the product “user” is assumed to not be trained or otherwise educated in the use of the product. This type of user requires the highest level of protection from all potential hazards. Products intended for this type of user must not allow user access to any hazard (i.e. electrical shock or injury hazard) regardless of the level of warning provided. In most cases, this type of product must have an enclosure secured by means that requires tools to open. In addition, the instruction manual cannot instruct the user to enter the enclosure to any area involving a hazard.

Warning markings and instructions to turn off power are not suitable means to allow general users access to potential hazards. Additional safety measures must be provided for the general user such as an interlock switch to insure there is no hazard during access.

Professional User: Many highly complex and sophisticated products are intended to only be used by a “professional”. Product standards such as UL-CSA-EN-IEC61010 for Lab, Measurement and Control Equipment is one example of a standard that assumes an educated professional user for the product. Professional users may be exposed to an electrical shock hazard, if necessary, as long as the user is warned by markings and instructions. For example, a research scientist may need to utilize hazardous voltages as part of their research. Consequently, standards that include consideration for products where all users are trained professionals often allow more freedom in the product design.

A New Type of User: The widely used product safety standards 60950 and 60065 are in the process of being replaced by a completely new standard 62368. The new standard defines three types of users, adding an intermediate level of user. Complicating these user type definition is the fact that the current standards were based on protecting the user from 6 Safety Hazards, while 62368 protects the user based on a “pain and injury” model resulting from available energy sources – a topic that will be discussed in an upcoming whitepaper.

a) Ordinary Person: An “ordinary person” per UL-CSA-EN-IEC62368 is very similar to what other standards consider a general user. This standard expands the description to include all persons who may have access to the equipment or are in the vicinity of the equipment. Note that for products used in the home or in public places, children would fall under this expanded user definition. Ordinary persons must not be exposed to energy sources capable of causing pain or injury when the product is operated under normal or abnormal operating conditions. They must also be protected against injury during a single fault condition.

b) Instructed Person: An “instructed person” per UL-CSA-EN-IEC62368 is someone who is under supervision by a “skilled person”. Alternatively, an “instructed person” can be someone who has been trained by a “skilled person” to identify energy sources that can cause pain and to avoid unintentional contact with or exposure to energy sources. Instructed persons must be protected from injury during normal and abnormal operating conditions as well as single fault conditions.

c) Skilled Person: A skilled person per UL-CSA-EN-IEC62368 is someone who has been trained and has experience with the equipment technology (similar to the professional user described above). Skilled persons are expected to be able to recognize areas within the product that present a hazard to the user, and to take action to protect themselves and those they supervise. Skilled persons themselves are only required to be protected from unintended contact with or exposure to a hazard capable of causing injury.

Multiple User Types: Note that one product can have multiple user types. Be sure to consider all product applications and user types. For example, the operator may be an ordinary person, with routine maintenance performed by an instructed person such as facilities personnel, and servicing is conducted by a skilled person like an electrician or qualified service technician.

Summary: Be sure to fully understand what types of users are operating your products (and if you use 62368, those in the vicinity). Be sure to understand the level of protection required for your product based on your user types. This is especially important when determining the level of access into your products that you endorse with markings or instructions – some products have consumables that must be accessed for replacement or replenishment by the general/ordinary user. Make sure these areas are safe for general user access (i.e. no hazards present or use of an interlock switch to turn off the hazard before access).

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