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IEC 62368-1 and HBSE

IEC 62368-1:2014 is Here – Time to Panic?

Written by Doug Massey on . Posted in Information Technology

Much has been made recently of the release and adoption of the latest edition of the Hazard-Based Safety Engineering (HBSE) standard, IEC 62368-1. Is it time for manufacturers to panic? We here at ACS don’t think so. There will be a long transition period before the new standard is mandatory in any region, and products which comply with the current IEC 60950-1 and IEC 60065 standards will, except in rare cases, also comply with the new standard.

Earlier this year, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) released Edition 2.0 of the 62368-1 standard. This standard covers hazards and hazard prevention in the domain of information technology (ITE) and audio/visual (A/V) equipment, including consumer electronics, musical instruments, office appliances, and telecom hardware, and is intended to replace IEC 60950-1 and IEC 60065 sometime in 2019.

HBSE is based on a three-block model for safety, and the new HBSE based standard is intended to allow for greater flexibility regarding compliance with requirements.

Three block model for pain and injury

Three block model for safety

The previous standards, 60950-1 and 60065, closely dictated product design, and were known as “prescriptive” standards. While still retaining many of these prescriptive design rules, the hazard-based safety concept also offers performance options, which may allow for greater design flexibility in some cases. The IEC Technical Committee responsible for publishing the standard, TC108, predicts that IEC 62368-1 will be technology-independent, allowing for greater design adaptability, and minimizing the need for regional and national differences to the standard.

This flexibility may open the door to more subjectivity in the compliance evaluation by the certification body when performance options are used to demonstrate compliance. For example, IEC 60950-1 allows for two methods for compliance with the requirements for flame ratings of materials. Method 1 is the “prescriptive” method, where compliance is achieved through the use of materials having flame ratings dictated by the standard. Method 2 is the “performance” method, where compliance is demonstrated through testing, by simulation of all possible fault conditions. While Method 2 allows for greater design flexibility, Method 2 is rarely used, for several reasons. Testing for all possible fault conditions can be time consuming and costly for complex products. The main reason that we recommend against using Method 2 is that engineers will have different opinions about what ‘all possible faults’ includes, and so application of Method 2 becomes very subjective, and can delay product certification.

IEC 62368-1 is a complete product safety standard, with specific requirements and compliance criteria. In this sense, the standard is not unlike IEC 60065 and IEC 60950-1. Finally, IEC 62368-1 is not risk-based. Unlike the third version of IEC 60601-1, no formal risk analysis is required.

We at ACS believe that while the new HBSE based standard will allow greater flexibility, most manufacturers will choose to apply the “prescriptive” route to compliance, continuing to use known safeguards such as properly rated polymeric materials, enclosure designs which limit the spread of fire in the event of internal ignition, and energy limiting circuits. Performance options should not be discarded, but should be carefully considered before implementation in the product design, and discussed with certification body engineers well in advance.

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Previously Certified Components

Many end-use products are assemblies of components that are already certified, often to the 60950-1 or 60065 standards. Power supplies, in particular, are typically certified to these standards, as well as hard drives, optical drives, motherboards, graphics cards, and the like.

IEC 62368-1:2014 recognizes that requiring all existing certified components to transition to the new standard would impose a tremendous burden on manufacturers and certification bodies alike, and so in clause 4.1.1 states that, “Components and subassemblies that comply with IEC 60950-1 or IEC 60065 are acceptable as part of equipment covered by this standard without further evaluation other than to give consideration to the appropriate use of the component or sub-assembly in the end product.”

This provision will ease the implementation burden.

International Adoption and Mandatory Compliance Dates

This second version of the standard is expected to be more widely adopted than the first, which was only adopted by the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, and South Africa. With the publication of the updated standard, member countries of the CB Scheme will be required to publish their national and regional differences from the IEC standard, as well as publishing their national standards based upon 2nd Ed.

In the U.S. and Canada, the 62368-1 Technical Harmonization Committee (THC) is finalizing proposed content, including national differences, of the next national versions of 62368-1 based on Edition 2.0. The UL and CSA versions of 62368-1 2nd Ed. are expected to be published in the third quarter of 2014.

In Europe, CENELEC is publishing EN 62368-1:2014, with a date of availability (DAV) in August and date of withdrawal (DOW) set for June 20, 2019. When these dates are accepted by the European Commission and subsequently published in the Official Journal of the European Union, the date of cessation of presumption of conformity of the previous legacy standards (60065 & 60950-1) with the low voltage directive will be the DOW. Manufacturers must demonstrate compliance to EN 62368-1 for all products placed on the market after the DOW.

The U.S. and Canada are expected to set mandatory compliance dates aligning with the EU; that is, mid 2019. New product certifications after this date will not be issued based on 60950-1 or 60065.

Products that are already certified in the U.S. or Canada under 60950-1 or 60065 at the time of the 2019 transition date will remain certified for quite some time (no firm date has been set by the certification bodies as of this publication).

Other countries are also working toward publishing national standards based upon IEC 62368-1:2013; however, we expect that adoption by other countries, particularly in the Asian region, will lag North America.

Should Manufacturers Be Early Adopters?

How soon should you adopt the new standard for your products? This, of course, is a decision that each compliance manager and design team must make. Until Ed 2.0 of IEC 62368-1 is widely adopted, manufacturers shipping to global markets who want certification to the new standard must maintain dual certifications (62368-1 along with 60590-1 or 60065), since not all countries and regions will adopt at the same time.

Given the short product life cycles in the high-tech field, certifying to the new standard today would make most products obsolete by the time compliance to the new standard is mandatory sometime in 2019.

One advantage to early adoption by manufacturers is that design teams will have ample time to learn the new standard, and adapt their design philosophies accordingly. A marketing advantage would be early adopter claiming rights.

ACS Recommends:

  • For products out of production in 2018: Compliance / certification to 60950-1 or 60065 standards, as applicable
  • For product in production in 2018 and beyond: Compliance / certification to 62368-1, along with 60950-1 or 60065 for regions not accepting 62368-1


Doug Massey

Doug Massey

Since 2002, Doug has been spearheading the entire product safety department at ACS into one of the world’s leading players. Thanks to him, ACS is one of only a handful of third-party laboratories recognized by Underwriters Laboratories to test Information Technology Equipment. READ MORE