Importance of legal metrology
Legal metrology, or the science of measurement, is an essential requirement which underpins the sale at both retail and wholesale level of food, petrol and many other goods, a sector of trade which accounts for more than 10% of the UK’s gross domestic product.
Legal weights and measures are fundamental to a sustainable trading economy, the concept of sale and purchase cannot exist without them. In our everyday lives people make many purchases that rely on their confidence in the system that ensures correct measures, and likewise businesses need to know they are trading in a fair marketplace where no one company has an unfair competitive advantage.
In the UK, a legislative and practical enforcement programme is in place to ensure this. All new weighing and measuring equipment at the design stage has to be type approved by National Measurement Office to examine and test that it is fit for use. Before it is used, it is verified to ensure its accuracy by a notified body, approved by National Measurement Office. While it is in use the trader will be responsible for its ongoing maintenance and accuracy and correct use. On an ad hoc basis Local Authority Trading Standards Services will independently inspect weighing and measuring equipment to ensure customers are receiving correct measures.
To ensure that consumers and businesses alike have confidence in the system of Legal Weights and Measures in the UK, National Measurement Office works closely with Local Authority Trading Standards Services and collaborates with manufacturers and suppliers. To ensure that legal weights and measures is practised consistently throughout Europe and the World, National Measurement Office also plays an active part in coordinating with WELMEC, the European cooperation in legal metrology and OIML, the International Organisation of Legal Metrology. This is so that UK consumers and businesses also have confidence in legal measurement when they trade or travel abroad.