Accreditation

An accreditation is a type of recognition. For TÜV Hessen and other independent inspection service providers, accreditation means being certified and being able to conduct inspections. The accreditation is therefore a license to perform inspections, granted by public bodies or the authorities in individual states. TÜV Hessen has over 50 accreditations around the world, which must be constantly audited and renewed by external auditors. In Germany, responsibility for accreditation lies with the federal government, and is regulated by the German Accreditation Body Act. The German Accreditation Body in Berlin(www.dakks.de*)is responsible for this. The DAkkS is Germany’s national accreditation body. It is the only body of its kind in the country and supervises the independence and competence of TÜV Hessen.

In simple terms, an accreditation procedure checks whether inspection service providers are able to act correctly and in line with requirements. This “audit of auditors” is one of the conditions that allow governmental authorities to outsource public tasks to private service providers.

The trust in certificates, inspections and audits depends on the expertise of those who carry out these inspections and certifications. Organizations such as TÜV, which carry out conformity assessments, must be able to verify their expertise to an independent accreditation body. They must show that they perform their activities in a technically competent manner, in accordance with legal requirements and standards, and at an internationally comparable level. The accreditation process is regulated by the international standard ISO 17011.

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Audit

An audit is a type of inspection. The term audit refers to inspection procedures that aim to ensure that processes, certain procedures or management systems meet the relevant requirements and guidelines. Audits are carried out by specially trained auditors.

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Auditor

An auditor is a specialist who performs certain inspections. The TÜV Hessen auditors who assess management systems according to internationally recognized standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 must meet certain requirements. They must have a university degree or have completed a specialist apprenticeship. They must also have at least five years of professional experience following an apprenticeship, or four years following university. In addition, auditors must have worked for at least two years in the management system field for which they wish to be authorized, such as quality or environmental management. Once they have met these conditions, they must complete a special training course, followed by 20 days working as a trainee with an authorized auditor. Only then do they receive their written appointment as an auditor.

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Supervisory organizations and authorities of TÜV Hessen

A wide range of governmental authorities around the world check whether TÜV Hessen works correctly and independently. These checks are also carried out by the organizations which publish the standards to which TÜV Hessen works. In Germany, the bodies which monitor the work of TÜV Hessen include the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS), state-level authorities, and the Federal Authority for Safety Technology (ZLS) in Munich, which coordinates inspections of technical systems.

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CE mark

The CE mark can be found on countless consumer products. It is not a test mark, but a declaration provided by the respective manufacturer that they comply with European law. The manufacturer provides this declaration in the form of the CE mark to the market supervisory body, and attaches it to the product. CE is an abbreviation of the French term for the European Community “Communauté Européenne.” Product manufacturers are legally bound by European directives and regulations to attach the CE mark. CE marks are mandatory for toys, electrical devices, personal protective equipment, measuring equipment, and many other products.

Generally, the CE mark is a self declaration provided by the manufacturer. The inspection procedure, also known as a conformity assessment, is mandated by European law and can vary greatly from one product to another. Therefore, unlike the GS mark used in Germany, the CE mark provides little in the way of information and transparency for consumers. For certain products, EU directives require the involvement of an independent and accredited inspection organization. This is often the case with machinery or personal protective equipment, which are classified by lawmakers as having a high hazard potential.

 

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German Accreditation Body (DAkkS)

In Germany the responsibility for accreditation, or the certification of qualified inspection service providers, lies with the federal government, and is regulated by the German Accreditation Body Act. The German Accreditation Body in Berlin (www.dakks.de*) is responsible for this. The DAkkS is Germany’s national accreditation body. It is the only body of its kind in the country and supervises the independence and competence of inspection service providers like TÜV Hessen.

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Driving test

Driver’s licenses in Germany date back to the “Law on Transportation with Motor Vehicles of May 3rd, 1909.” Today, TÜV Hessen and other testing organizations allow would-be drivers to conduct the theory test on a computer. The test is available in eleven foreign languages and can be taken for cars, motorcycles, trucks or buses. If the applicant passes both the theoretical and practical sections of the test, they receive a valid EU driver’s license. The PC theory test aims to prepare young drivers in particular for real traffic situations. This helps reduce the risk of accidents among this age group. Applicants can familiarize themselves with the test by downloading a practice test at www.fahrerlaubnis.tuev-dekra.de* .

Staff at TÜV Hessen perform the driving tests on behalf of the federal states. This is regulated by the German Motor Vehicle Referees Act. There is no longer any link between the persons responsible for the technical, disciplinary and economic aspects at testing organizations in Germany. Disciplinary and economic responsibility lies solely with the respective region, while technical responsibility lies with the management of the entire area for an entire state. As part of their legally mandated accreditation, all organizations that carry out driving tests are assessed annually by the German Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), a subordinate authority of the Federal Transport Ministry.

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GS mark for products

The GS mark (German: “geprüfte Sicherheit” – tested safety) is a voluntary safety mark in Germany that is also recognized internationally. Although the GS mark is not a general seal of quality, it has a positive effect on product safety. Every year in Germany, approximately 50,000 applications are registered for GS marks for products. For approximately half of these applications, product safety must be improved before the GS mark can be granted.

A wide range of products can be given the GS mark, including everyday items such as furniture, electronic entertainment appliances, hammer drills, chainsaws, toys, fitness equipment, prams, mountain bikes, and household and kitchen appliances. It can also be used on playground equipment and technical systems such as special tools, lifting and conveying systems.

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Main inspection for vehicles

Vehicles in Germany must undergo a general technical inspection regularly to ensure that they are safe to drive and do not pollute the environment. Every registered owner must take their vehicle for a main inspection (German: “Hauptuntersuchung” or HU) at regular intervals that are set by law. Cars are usually required to undergo their first main inspection after three years, and every two years after that. The legal basis for these regular inspections is the German Road Traffic Approval Ordinance. TÜV Hessen, along with other test organizations, performs these inspections in order to reduce the burden on the state when it comes to the technical safety of vehicles. Since the end of the monopoly in vehicle inspections in the early 1990s, several different inspection companies have offered vehicle inspections in line with legal provisions. The inspection companies are subject to strict state supervision in order to ensure the independence and competence of the inspections. You can find 60 TÜV Hessen service centers at www.tuev-hessen.de/wunschtermin

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Conformity assessment

Conformity means compliance with standards, rules or laws. A conformity assessment determines whether an organization complies with set requirements for a product, process, procedure, service, system or person. The German GS Mark is a well-known test mark for product conformity in terms of safety.

Just like global norms and standards, conformity assessments are an essential part of modern business. The conformity assessment aims to objectively confirm compliance with standards, norms and regulations. Objective and comparable tests, measurements, inspections or certifications are becoming an ever more important part of the global trade in goods. This is because consumers demand reliable quality and safety that meet a minimum technical level.

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Norms

A norm is a standardized regulation containing a catalog of requirements. These requirements can be related to products or processes. The standardization process creates a generally accepted document by compiling the wishes and suggestions of various groups, such as manufacturers, consumer associations, research institutions, testing and certification organizations. Norms are not laws. Paper manufacturers, for example, do not have to comply with a norm such as DIN A4. But without these norms (or standards), the modern flow of goods would be unthinkable, as every product would be designed and tested according to individual benchmarks. Norms are therefore a means of comparison. They exist at several different levels with different scopes:

  • National standards, such as the DIN standards (German Institute for Standardization)
  • European standards, such as the EN standards in the European Union
  • International standards like the IEC and ISO norms, which are recognized by many countries around the world

Every norm has a certain scope in which it is valid. This scope describes the purpose of the norm or the area in which it applies. As a result, many products are subject to several different norms. A coffee machine, for example, must meet norms for safety, hygiene and electromagnetic compatibility. As norms provide means for comparison, they form the basis for all inspections that TÜV Hessen performs. They make it easier to understand the results of inspection. Further inspections of individual criteria are also carried out.

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Notified body

In Europe, TÜV Hessen is known as a notified body. This term refers to an independent testing and certification company that is certified by a governmental authority in line with European law. Several European directives prescribe that manufacturers of a product or technical system must have their product conformity assessed by a notified body before they are allowed to use the required declaration of conformity with the CE mark. Responsibility for notification lies with the national authority of the respective member state in which the notified body is based. EC directives that call for inspections by notified bodies contain aspects that are relevant in terms of safety or environmental protection

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TÜV Hessen test mark

TÜV Hessen issues test marks after positive inspections in several different areas. These test marks are issued after product inspections, inspections of certain technical systems such as elevators and escalators, and after the certification of management systems.

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Test mark forgery and misuse

TÜV Hessen issues test marks according to strict internal and external regulations, and has an excellent reputation as a result. In order to protect both its own reputation and the interests of consumers and compliant companies, TÜV consistently takes action against the incorrect use of its own test marks, whether through forgery or misuse.

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Certified experts

There are many types of certified experts for different tasks, with varying legal profiles. For vehicle inspections and driving tests, only officially certified experts or test engineers may perform the activities of the officially certified inspection organizations such as TÜV Hessen. The certified experts perform both vehicle inspections and driving tests. The mandatory qualifications for these experts are set out in law and include a degree in mechanical, automotive or electronic engineering. Alongside their university or college degree, would-be certified experts must also complete a special training course at TÜV Hessen that lasts several months, after which they must complete an exam set by the responsible state authority.

In other areas, the certified experts at TÜV Hessen are usually authorized to perform certain inspections as a result of their own personal qualifications and authorizations, as well the fact that they are employed by an accredited inspection organization like TÜV Hessen. In certain specialist areas, experts are personally appointed for certain inspection activities, for example by a governmental authority. As certified experts in their specialist area, they have proven that they have the necessary qualifications and professional experience, and must perform inspections in an objective, independent and impartial way. These experts are often commissioned by public authorities to assess complex technical matters, perform demanding inspections or create special assessments, and support public bodies with their expertise. Examples of those appointed by the responsible authority include certified experts for x-ray and radiation protection or those who work in the chemicals industry.

There are also publicly accredited and sworn experts for certain areas, such as fire protection for buildings. They enjoy great trust among courts and private clients due to their proven expertise and independence. Appointed for a limited period by chambers or the state council, these experts pledge to be objective and impartial, and often create reports for court proceedings.

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Safety of technical systems

Technical systems in Germany must be operated in a manner that does not pose a danger to people or the environment. If the facilities present high potential danger, they are known as “installations subject to mandatory inspection”. These include elevator systems, gas stations, chemical plants, boilers and pressure vessels, and storage facilities. These require regular inspection by an authorized inspection body (ZÜS) such as TÜV Hessen. The protection of employees, other persons and the environment is paramount here. Inspections must meet the highest standards. The result of inspection must be independent of the economic interests of the employer, operator or constructor of a system. It is therefore important to ensure that the organization performing the inspection (such as TÜV Hessen) is independent of the company that commissioned it. The independence, competence and inspection quality of TÜV Hessen is therefore monitored by governmental authorities.

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Transparency

At www.proficert.com, you can find product features, services, companies and systems that are inspected by TÜV Hessen, together with the corresponding trademark. This service is available to manufacturers, purchasers, retailers and consumers. You can also find information about the inspection and the TÜV Hessen certificate via an individual code. This allows you to find out in seconds whether a test mark is real, or whether the information is correct.

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TÜV

TÜV is one of the best-known brands in Germany. It is the calling card of the TÜV inspection organizations like TÜV Hessen. TÜV is an abbreviation of the German name Technischer Überwachungsverein (technical inspection association). TÜV is currently divided into six different companies that compete with each other on the market: TÜV Hessen, TÜV SÜD, TÜV Rheinland, TÜV Nord, TÜV Thüringen and TÜV Saarland. There is not one single TÜV. As time went on and new technologies were developed, the original organizations became international inspection companies with subsidiaries around the world.

In Germany, the term TÜV is often used colloquially to refer to inspections or audits, in ways that have nothing to do with the actual TÜV organizations or their activities. These include the “TÜV” for care homes, trains or canals. Another example is the “TÜV” for politicians, which returns around 600 hits when entered in an Internet search engine. This general use of the term causes confusion about what organizations like TÜV Hessen really do, which often leads to misunderstandings.

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Federal Authority for Safety Technology (ZLS)

The ZLS is an important supervisory body for TÜV Hessen. It is responsible for issuing authorizations to test centers that are allowed to issue the German GS mark and that are able and authorized to inspect the safety of products, devices, machinery and systems. It also authorizes organizations that conduct conformity assessments as notified bodies in line with European law. For more information, please visit www.zls-muenchen.de* .

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Certification

Certification is confirmation by an independent body such as TÜV Hessen.

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Authorized inspection body (ZÜS)

TÜV Hessen is one of the authorized inspection bodies (ZÜS) in Germany that are authorized by the Federal Authority for Safety Technology to perform inspections on various hazardous systems. Since 2006, these inspection bodies have performed technical inspections that were previously carried out by the officially certified experts of the supervisory organizations. As a result, authorization for inspection activities shifted from individuals (certified experts) to organizations. The legal basis for this is the German Product Safety Act. Authorized inspection bodies carry out mandatory and officially-mandated inspections on systems subject to mandatory inspection. These dangerous systems include refueling and gas stations, elevators, and pressure equipment in industrial facilities.

Before authorized inspection bodies are allowed to begin activities, their expertise and aptitude must be verified by the Federal Authority for Safety Technology in at least one area. An authorized inspection body must be approved by the respective authorities in every federal state in which they wish to operate. A list of all authorized inspection bodies is available at www.baua.de*.

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*Note: TÜV Technische Überwachung Hessen GmbH assumes no liability for the content and statements on the linked pages. In the event of complaints, please contact the creator of the respective site. Thank you for your cooperation.