The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) is a statutory body established by the Standards Act of 1968. The Bureau of Standards is controlled by a Standards Council, which is responsible for policymaking and general administration. Standards are developed by standing committees representing varied interests, such as consumer groups, the manufacturing sector, and the public in general. The Bureau’s main functions are formulating, promoting, and implementing standards for goods, services, and processes. It develops and enforces technical regulations for those commodities and practices which affect health and safety.
The Bureau also facilitates trade and protects Jamaican consumers with the timely development and promulgation of national standards. The Standards and Certification department seeks industry participation in the development of new standards and new markets both locally and regionally. The Bureau’s mandate includes preparing standards for particular products, practices, and processes and checking products against claims of conformity to published standards
The BSJ is the main standards development organization in Jamaica. At the BSJ, the preparation of standards is authorized by the Standards Council following representations from national organizations or from committees and staff of the BSJ. When the final draft of the standard is ready, it is sent to the responsible Ministry for approval after which it is made available to the public for comment. After consideration of the comments, a final document is prepared and the Standards Council recommends the document to the Minister for approval. The declaration of the standard is published and copies are made available for sale. Standards are revised every five years, while the Catalogue of Jamaican Standards is updated every six months. It includes a listing of all standards published to date as well as those approved by the Minister awaiting publication. The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET), private companies, and government agencies and ministries also have a limited role in standards development. The BSJ restructured its operations in 2018 to maintain standards setting, but created a separate enforcement entity, the National Compliance and Regulatory Agency (NCRA) to enforce the standards.
The BSJ is responsible for issuing licenses to use the Bureau’s Certification Mark (Mark of Conformity). A number of laboratories carry out tests in such areas as food analysis, chemistry, metallurgy, microbiology, building materials, furniture, packaging, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and weights and measures. Private companies involved in conformity assessment are Technological Solutions Limited and SGS Limited.
The National Certification Mark issued by the BSJ is a mark of quality awarded to products, processes, and practices, which conform to relevant standards. The BSJ encourages consumers to purchase products which bear this mark, as it guarantees consistent product quality. All manufacturers have the right to apply for the mark. The BSJ’s team of analysts and specialists examines the manufacturers’ processes, equipment, records, raw material, quality control systems, and the finished product to ensure good quality.
The Product Certification offered by the BSJ is voluntary (and at a cost to the applicant). Plans are being developed for the establishment of a National Certification body. Also being planned is a Compliance Sticker Program, which will allow local products of a suitable standard to bear a Compliance Sticker. The program will also extend to compliant imported products. There is a mutual recognition agreement between the BSJ and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and Jamaica has adopted more of ASTM’s standards than any country in the Caribbean.
The BSJ offers laboratory accreditation to Chemical and Microbiological Laboratories, which apply for this recognition. Accreditation services may also be obtained from International agencies. Plans are in place for the development of a National Accreditation Body (separate from the BSJ), which will take over this function.
The BSJ’s Technical Information Center is the only national standards library in Jamaica. It is the center of the international standards information network and serves as:
- The National Enquiry Point under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).
- Contact Point for Codex Alimentarius Commission in Jamaica
- Local Agent for International Organization for Standardization (ISO), British Standards Institution (BSI), and American National Standards Institution (ANSI)
- The Bureau has membership in the following regional and international organization
- International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC)
- Caribbean Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)
- Inter-American Metrology System (SIM)
- Pan-American Standards Commission (COPANT) (an ISO Commission)
- Caribbean Metrology Sub-Region (CARIMET).
Additionally, the Bureau cooperates with several other regional and international standards and metrology institutions such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), National Center for Metrology-Mexico (CENAM), Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME), National Office of Standards-Cuba (NC), Columbian Institute of Certification and Technical Standards (ICONTEC), Barbados national Standards Institute (BNSI), Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), and the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS).
In 2013, a Hazardous Substance Regulatory Authority (HSRA) was established to administer the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act and ensuing regulations. The Act applies to the possession, acquisition, production, manufacture, processing, transfer, development, handling, storage, import, export, or disposal of natural and artificial radioactive material, nuclear material, ionizing radiation apparatus and devices emitting ionizing radiation.
Testing, Inspection and Certification
The Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) is the national accreditation body. JANAAC, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce was incorporated in March 2007, and began operations in April 2008. They are mandated to facilitate trade between Jamaica and its trading partners by enabling Jamaica’s Conformity Assessment System to meet international standards and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. JANAAC is a member of the International Laboratory Accreditation Corporation (ILAC) and the Inter-American Accreditation Corporation (IAAC).
Test certificates from foreign laboratories are accepted if the laboratories are ILAC mutual recognition agreement (MRA) signatories. U.S. testing laboratories can also operate in Jamaica and provide testing once there is compliance with domestic regulatory requirements and the laboratories are ILAC MRA signatories.
Publication of Technical Regulations
Proposed technical regulations are available for public comment and a 30-day period is allowed before publication. Any entity, including U.S. companies, can comment on proposals before they are published. The BSJ has a Technical Information Center, which has information on standards being developed. Final technical regulations are published in the Jamaica Gazette Supplement - Proclamations, Rules, and Regulations.
Product labeling is one of the more important, if not controversial matters handled by the BSJ. The Catalogue of Jamaican Standards lists requirements for over 30 different commodities. The list is wide and varied and includes items such as footwear, precious metals, household appliances, panty hose, thread, animal feeds, toys, furniture, and various packaged goods.
Labeling requirements are contained in a series of mandatory standards for the Labeling of Commodities (JS 1: Part 1 through to JS 1: Part 30). Adherence to these requirements is closely monitored by the BSJ. Monitoring entails verification of labels against the specifications outlined in the particular labeling standard.
To increase efficiency and effectiveness with respect to compliance of compulsory standards (technical regulations), a Label Registration Program was proposed. The program is intended to prevent labeling violations at ports of entry and in the domestic market. This registration program is voluntary and can assist the speedy processing of goods through Customs (using a database) for importers who have their labels registered with the BSJ.
The steps required for this process are the:
- Completion of the Label Registration Form.
- Submission of the form along with the labels of the products to be registered (preferably online) to the Bureau of Standards.
- Payment using either the e-commerce facility or the other means available and showing proof of payment.
- Assessment and report on the label.
If the label is in conformance with the standards, the registration will be approved, a registration number assigned and the label added to the compliant list.
In the event of a labeling non-conformance, a report is generated to indicate the areas of non-conformity, and to make recommendations for corrections.
The applicant will be required to implement the recommendations prior to re-submission . The new registration can then be utilized to process imports at Jamaica Customs. Routine verification is conducted by BSJ Inspectors/Officers to identify continued compliance and if breaches are identified, registration can be withdrawn and the distributor advised to re-register the label(s).
Use ePing to review proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures
The ePing SPS&TBT platform (https://epingalert.org/), or “ePing”, provides access to notifications made by WTO Members under the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), distributed by the WTO from January 16, 1995 to present. ePing is available to all stakeholders free of charge and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive customized e-mail alerts. Use it to browse notifications on past as well as new draft and updated product regulations, food safety and animal and plant health standards and regulations, find information on trade concerns discussed in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees, locate information on SPS/TBT Enquiry Points and notification authorities, and to follow and review current and past notifications concerning regulatory actions on products, packaging, labeling, food safety and animal and plant health measures in markets of interest.
Notify U.S., operated and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2003 to distribute and provide access to notifications (and associated draft texts) made under the WTO TBT Agreement for US stakeholders, has reached its end of life. Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national TBT (and an SPS) Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies on notifications to the WTO TBT Committee should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point. Refer to the comment guidance at https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/guidance/guidance.cfm for further information.
Bureau of Standards Jamaica
6 Winchester Road, P.O Box 113
Tel: (876) 632-4275 or (876) 618-1534; Fax: (876) 929-4736