Weights and Measures Act 1985: A guide for inspectors and manufacturers of weights and measures equipment.
Enforcement of the Weights and Measures Act
Weights and measures legislation is enforced by Local Weights and Measures Authorities (LWMAs). Details of your LWMA can be found by entering your post code at the following link on the Chartered Trading Standards Institute website.
Local authorities’ trading standards departments deliver the local enforcement of most of the UK’s weights and measures legislation. To promote consistency and best practice, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (Safety & Standards) works closely with the national co-ordinating body, local government and the professional institute for inspectors of weights and measures - CTSI - as well as with regional groups of local authorities and individual inspectors.
For consumer/general public enquiries contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or visit its website.
In the case of weights and measures, consumers have no way of verifying the quantity of product they have purchased, such as the weight of some purchased vegetables or the volume of fuel put into a motor vehicle. The current legal protections ensure that the goods offered for sale by quantity can be trusted because the amount has been determined by a legally controlled (prescribed) measuring instrument, independently monitored according to risk by local enforcement authorities. By regulating measuring instruments used for trade, both consumers and business can be confident the quantity declared is accurate. Safety & Standards has produced guidance on regulation for the types of equipment regulated under the Weights and Measures Act for both manufacturers and inspectors of weights and measures equipment.
New Legislative Framework
The New Legislative Framework (NLF) introduces common administrative requirements and clarifies the duties of those in the supply chain. Read more about the relevant regulations and guidance documents by statutory instrument.
Under the Weights and Measures act 1985 LWMAs have statutory obligations:
- under section 72 of the act each LWMA shall appoint a chief inspector of weights and measures who holds the section 73 qualification certificate
- under section 70 of the act LWMA have a statutory requirement to report to the Secretary of State the level of local weights and measures enforcement work conducted over a twelve month period
- under section 4 of the act LWMA shall maintain standards (local standards) of the measures and weights set out in schedule 3 to this act
Section 70 return and reports
Every LWMA in the UK is required to report the level of local enforcement work conducted over a 12 month period under section 70 of the Weights and Measures Act 1985. This information is then collated into an annual report by Safety & Standards which is used to create a risk matrix which identifies the risk of equipment failing and the level of consequences of that risk. This then enables LWMAs to identify which areas their resources should be prioritised towards using targeted inspections. This is the format as agreed by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 70 of the Weights and Measures Act 1985. Read this publication of our reports and returns on enforcement work carried out.
National metrology projects
For a number of years, LWMAs have taken part in national metrology projects, organised to add value to the inspectional work done by individual trading standards services as part of their local responsibility. These have been undertaken across the UK, focused on a particular subject and nationally collated.
Safety & Standards, along with the British Standards Institution (BSI), the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), also oversees standardisation, testing, measurement, certification and accreditation in the UK as part of the UK’s National Quality Infrastructure (UKQI).
Market surveillance projects
Safety & Standards has a statutory duty under the Non-Automatic Weighing Instruments (NAWI) and Measuring Instruments (MID) directives to carry out market surveillance activities. This is to ensure instruments that do not comply with the provisions of the directive are neither placed on the market or put into use. In order to achieve this statutory requirement Safety & Standards co-ordinates yearly market surveillance projects.
Safety & Standards has policy (legislative) responsibility for the hallmarking of precious metal articles. We are responsible for implementing UK legislation and any subsequent amendments to allow growth and development in hallmarking.
We are also the sponsor group of the British Hallmarking Council (BHC), a non-departmental public body set up by the Hallmarking Act 1973 to oversee hallmarking activities within the UK.
For further information on the BHC and hallmarking please visit the BHC website.
Measuring container bottles
Measuring container bottles (MCB) are containers (normally bottles) used for the storage, transportation and delivery of liquids and are designed to be stoppered. They are made of glass or any other substance having such rigidity and stability that it has the same characteristics as glass. MCBs are required to display a manufacturer’s mark, their nominal quantity and (if not filled to the brim) the distance between the fill level and the brim. They are regulated though Directive 75/107/EEC and the Measuring Container Bottles (EEC requirements) Regulations 1997.
Packaged goods and food information
This guidance provides a detailed explanation of the Packaged Goods Regulations and how to comply with the weights and measures law.
Approved manufacturers under MID permit manufacturers to place equipment on to the European market under the control of an approved quality system. Approved manufacturers under NAWI permit manufacturers to seek approval to allow them to undertake self-verification of their EC type approved instruments. Read this guide to find out how to apply to become or identify an approved manufacturer authorised to carry out conformity assessment.
Approved verifiers in possession of an approval issued by the Secretary of State, may conduct their own testing, passing and stamping (verification) of weighing and measuring equipment which they manufacture, install, adjust or repair, as the case may be, as fit for use for trade. Read this guide to find out about the approved verification guidance, access the application form and how to obtain stickers for weights and measures equipment.
A notified body provides services for conformity assessment on the conditions set out in the new approach directives in support of Conformity European (CE). Read this guide to find out the co-ordination and appointment of notified bodies.
International legal metrology
Safety & Standards co-ordinates input into international forums including the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) and the European Cooperation in Legal Metrology (WELMEC). We aim to positively influence European Union (EU) and international legal metrology forums in order to benefit the UK businesses, their customers and consumers. Read this guide to find out more about the working groups Safety & Standards attends and the regulations we influence.
The assessment of weight or measure is an essential element in the process of commerce. Standardisation of those weights and measures is the duty of every government across the globe. Every assessment of weight or measure from the informal to international contracts relies on a common understanding of a reference point and unit of measurement. In the UK today the primary units of measurement are clearly defined and are accepted across the world. However, the dissemination of those units from the ‘perfect’ kilogram held in Paris or the ‘perfect’ metre defined by the use of a specified laser down to the measures used in trade transactions has posed questions of government for as long as standards have existed. This page is designed for use by LWMAs to report the status of their standards holding and any approvals they have or wish to apply for from Safety & Standards for nil or partial holding of local standards.
Weights and measures bulletins and guidance
In many instances Safety & Standards is asked for an opinion on particular circumstances that have an impact on a wider group of organisations or equipment. These documents contain technical opinions from Safety & Standards on Weights and Measures equipment.
Weights and measures identification numbers
Safety & Standards produces documents that are listings of the numbers allocated to LWMAs and approved verifiers for identification purposes on items of weighing or measuring equipment. These are known as National and EEC stamp numbers. Read the latest set of numbers given to local weights and measures authorities and approved verifiers for identifying items of weighing or measuring equipment.
Certificates issued by Safety & Standards for EC and EEC type examination, and for UK national type approval
Safety & Standards provides copies of the following examination and approval certificates:
Several old approach directives were revoked under the MID. EEC certificates, which have been issued under these old approach directives, continue to be valid until their date of expiry but cannot be renewed. These certifcates continue to apply to instruments that have been verified and are in use.