Intertek is an international corporation whose business is testing, evaluation and certification of products and their manufacturing processes for safety, performance, and verification of claims. According to it’s history goes back about 130 years to Milton Hershey’s chemical testing laboratory in Montreal, Quebec (1888), Caleb Brett’s marine surveying business in the United Kingdom (1885), and Thomas Edison’s Electrical Testing Laboratory for testing electric lamps (1896).
These companies grew and merged with others. They were acquired in the 1980s by Inchcape, which began as an agent for shipping companies and established Labtest in Hong Kong in 1973. Through other acquisitions and mergers, it has become the world’s largest consumer goods testing firm. It has offices and laboratories in most nations. Intertek NA based in Arlington Heights, IL, has 12 testing laboratories in the United States and Canada, one in Hong Kong, and one in Sweden.
What Is Tested for in Mattresses?
Mattresses fall into the Intertek category of Furniture & Bedding Testing and Certification. Within this category are six areas of testing and certification: Performance, Electrical Safety, Flammability, Environmental/Sustainability, Consulting and Regulation —
• Performance: Meet market demand and requirements by ensuring your product meets industry standards and will perform as intended.
• Electrical Safety: We ensure products like height adjustable tables, panel systems, furniture power distribution units, and integrated electrical into furnishings meet the applicable safety standards and to the National Electric Code.
• Flammability: Test your product to the relevant flammability standard for local and national requirements.
• Environmental/Sustainability: Whatever your needs or goals maybe Intertek has a solution in place to help you with the triple bottom line people, planet, and profit.
• Consulting: Get on-demand expertise to better facilitate your business. Whether it is designing for compliance, extra resources, or overcoming a problem we can clear a path for you.
• Regulation: Whether you need to meet a regulatory requirement or to better understand a regulation.
As to testing mattresses, electrical safety is addressed for powered adjustable beds and for mattresses which have electrical components, such as adjustable airbeds (e.g. Air-Pedic, Sleep Number, and Comfortaire), and with in-the-mattress massage (Night Magic Sleep Massage Therapy Unit by Innomax and the Amazing Bed by Innovative Standards).
Three key areas of testing for mattresses are Performance, Flammability, and Regulation. In the U.S. Flammability also is included in meeting regulations.
One chief concern of mattress manufacturers and consumers alike is durability. Manufacturers want to know how long a warranty on their products should be and be assured that their mattresses will last that long. Consumers, of course, want the mattress to be good long enough to be worth the cost, as well as knowing that they will have the stated level of firmness and comfort.
The standard test for mattress durability consists of rolling a heavy weight back-and-forth over the mattress for at least the expected lifetime. Most mattress companies do this during development and test marketing, but testing by a third party not only assures them of the results, but makes their claims more credible.
Intertek also tests for the presence of specified chemicals in mattress components. This is to meet not only federal standards, but also the standards of several states, especially California.
Flammability standards in the United States are defined as meeting several burn tests. Intertek perfoms these tests, certifying the results.
One Hot Demo
In 2006, just before the International Sleep Products Association Expo, delegates to the convention were invited to witness burn tests of mattresses at Intertek’s Elmendorf, TX testing center. This was in anticipation of the release of new federal flammability standards for mattresses. The demos showed the difference between a mattress with a fire barrier and one without it.
Since then, there has been increasing concern over toxic chemical fire retardants. This resulted in a search for non-chemical means to keep fire from reaching foams in a mattress. Among these are silica-infused rayon and certain varieties of wool. Intertek tests the effectiveness of the non-chemical fire retardants as well as for the absence of the toxic chemicals.
Some North American bed and mattress manufacturers have their mattresses tested by Intertek. A couple of notable ones are Classic Brands and Reverie. A few others are Secure Beginnings, Customatic (ETL for adjustable beds), Sleep Number (for the FlexFit adjustable base), and Drive Medical (long term care beds).
Reverie, whose Dream Mattress was the first mattress to earn Intertek’s Quality and Performance Mark (QPM) Certification, makes the Oso Mattress, which is also certified. Reverie’s adjustable beds were already tested and certified by Intertek.
Most of Intertek’s mattress manufacturing clients are overseas, but that could grow in North America if more of their clients here display their seals.