Safer entertainment and work - IEC TC work ensures audio-visual, IT, and communication equipment is safe to use for all

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Issue 48 – April 2013

Audio-visual and information and communication technology equipment can be found in virtually all homes and working environments. The widespread existence of such electrically powered devices means they have to be safe to install, operate and maintain for users and technicians alike. IEC technical committee (TC) 108, Safety of electronic equipment within the field of audio/video, information technology, and communication technology, prepares international Standards to ensure this is the case.

For entertainment and work

Households use more and more electronic goods. Smartphones and tablet computers are expected to push worldwide consumer electronics spending over 1000 billion dollars in 2013, according to data released at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Computers, first introduced in the work environment decades ago, are also in homes in many countries.

Preparing safety Standards for devices and systems used by billions of people and the need to merge the activities of two separate IEC TCs that covered, respectively, data processing equipment and office machines, and electronic equipment for household and similar use, led to the creation of IEC TC 108 in 2001.

Worldwide use

Audio-visual (AV) and information and communication technology (ICT) equipment is manufactured and traded across the world. Global acceptance of safety Standards is essential to guarantee the production, trade, and use of such equipment worldwide. TC 108 prepares international Standards that form the basis for many national and regional Standards around the world and, as a minimum, are used and referenced by most world's countries. IEC60065 Audio, video and similar electronic apparatus – Safety requirements and the IEC60950 Information technology equipment – Safety series that cover safety requirements for, respectively, AV and ICT equipment, are among the most widely used of all IEC Standards.

TC 108 also developed IEC 62368-1, Audio/video, and information and communication technology equipment – Part 1: Safety requirements, with a view to simplifying the problems created by the merging of AV and ICT technologies. TC 108 recommended that the first edition of this new international Standard, destined eventually to replace IEC 60065 and IEC 60950, be 'considered as an alternative to these at least over the recommended transition period'.

Global expertise, extensive scope

Reflecting the global nature of the AV and ICT industries, 111 experts from 27 participating countries and 14 observer countries take part in TC 108's work.

To develop and update international Standards, TC 108 also has two working groups (WGs) and two maintenance teams.

  • WG 5 is in charge of maintenance and proposals for IEC60990, Methods of measurement of touch current and protective conductor current.
  • WG hazard-based Standard development team (HBSDT) works on IEC 62368-1 Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment – Part 1: Safety requirements and IEC/TR62368-2 Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment – Part 2: Explanatory information related to IEC 62368-2. Its task is to develop a new safety publication covering requirements for equipment within the described scope. IEC 62368-1 is meant to replace eventually IEC 60065 and IEC 60950.
  • MT 1 leads the maintenance of IEC 60065and IEC/TS 62441, Safeguards against accidentally caused candle flame ignition for audio/video, communication and information technology equipment.
  • MT 2 deals with the maintenance of four international Standards from the IEC 60950 series as well as maintenance of another international Standard, a technical report, and a technical specification on safety aspects of equipment connected to a telecommunication network and to ICT networks.

Collaborative work and medium term objectives

As AV and ICT equipment contain many components, such as cables, circuit-breakers, connecting devices, transformers, fuses, and semiconductors, to name only a few, TC 108 is a customer of IEC TCs and subcommittees preparing international Standards for all these and others (so-called component committees).

TC 108 objectives for the next 3 – 5 years have been set as:

  • continuing to develop and maintain Standards necessary for manufacturers and the safety of users, for national authorities responsible for such equipment safety, and for bodies responsible for certifying such equipment. Monitoring market trends and developing the necessary requirements
  • finalising the transfer of all non-safety related Standards activities to TC 100, Audio, video, and multimedia systems and equipment
  • engaging with IEC component committees identified under the IEC systems approach aspect to ensure that component Standard safety requirements are compatible with the safety requirements in the Standards maintained by TC 108.

Wide scope, fast-evolving industry

The extensive range of equipment relying on IEC TC 108 work for safe operation and the fast moving nature of AV and ICT technologies mean that experts from this TC are set to have a very busy agenda for the foreseeable future. Their work will continue to underpin the development of new AV and ICT products safe to operate and maintain for hundreds of millions of users and technicians.

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Summarised from IEC's e-tech, March 2013.


Published in business and ICT.

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