Industrial Safety vs. Consumer Safety for Wireless Power27 May 2020
A laser printer is a safe product. You could use it at home – even place it in a baby’s room – and you can also use the printer at the office or on the factory floor. The fact that it is safe both at the home and at the factory is sometimes referred to as cross-environment safety.
A chain saw is a safe product when used by a person with appropriate skills and training. But it is not safe enough to be placed in a baby’s room, or given to a 6-year-old child.
It follows that there are different safety standards depending on the intended environment and the intended user.
Modern safety standards, differentiate between an ordinary person, an instructed person, and a skilled person:
- A Skilled Person is a person with technical knowledge or sufficient experience to enable her to avoid dangers which the use of the product may create. For instance, a car is meant to be used by a skilled person: it can’t be used without a key and may kill the user or others if used improperly.
- An Instructed Person is a person adequately advised or supervised by skilled persons to enable her to avoid dangers that using the product may create. An adult using a food processor in the kitchen might be an instructed person. One might assume the adult was shown how to use the food processor, took the time to read the instructions, takes heed of safety warnings, and tries to employ common sense.
- An Ordinary Person is everyone else. These are persons that are neither skilled instructed person.
Consumer products should be safe for use by ordinary persons. Consider an alarm clock. It is designed to be safe for everyone. It does not assume the user is of a certain weight, or that the user maintains a certain distance from the clock, or that the clock is not installed under a baby’s crib. It might not make sense to install a clock under a crib, but installing it in such a way does not make it unsafe.
Industrial products enjoy more lenient safety standards. It could be assumed that they are used by an Instructed or Skilled person. It might be assumed that people are exposed to them only 8-10 hours a day as opposed to 24-hours a day. It might be assumed that people keep some distance from the product.
The same is true for wireless power. For instance, RF products that are used in industrial settings are allowed to transmit about 5 times more energy than in home environments.
When you hear that a product is “safe”, ask to clarify in what environment it is safe, under what usage limitations are attached to it, and so forth. For instance, does the safety certificate assume a minimum or maximum distance between the wireless power transmitter or receiver? Does it assume that there are no people or objects in the energy path? Does it assume that humans are not too close to the energy source? This ‘fine print’ may make a product impractical in your particular environment and thus should be looked at closely.
Fortunately, Wi-Charge products are certified as safe consumer products as well as safe industrial products, meaning that ordinary people can use them without requiring special precautions, training, distance limitations, or other ‘fine print’.