Columnists Features

Verification for accuracy of weighing and measuring instruments

ZWMA

ZAMBIA WEIGHTS & MEASURE AGENCY
THE Zambia Weights and Measures Agency (ZWMA), a statutory body under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, is mandated to protect consumers in relation to buying pre-packaged commodities of correct quantities, approve the use of all types of weighing and measuring instruments used in trade and verification for the accuracy of the measuring instruments at prescribed intervals.
As mandated by the Weights and Measures Act No. 12 of 2003, ZWMA gives consumers confidence that accurate weighing instruments have been used in the measurement of the goods they purchase in retail outlets.
Similarly, ZWMA enhances sustainability of businesses by ensuring that verified weighing and measuring instruments that are used in the packaging of produced commodities by manufacturers do not overweigh. Use of verified accurate measuring instruments by manufacturers and traders helps them to minimise incurring avoidable losses.
Verification for accuracy is a precautionary measure through which weighing and measuring instruments used in trade such as scales, weighbridges, baggage weighers at airports, fuel dispensers at filling stations etc. are examined or tested for the following reasons:
i. To determine if they comply with the requirements of the Weights and Measures Act, which requires that trade scales and all other measuring instruments used in business transactions are accurate.
ii. To check if they are type approved instruments; and
iii.    To determine if they are within the prescribed limits of error.
Once an instrument has been verified, it is sealed or locked and a mark of verification in form of a sticker is placed on the instrument. The sticker has features that are of interest to a consumer and help them to identify measuring and weighing instruments that are accurate.
These features include the ZWMA logo, the period of validity of the verified instrument and the colour of the verification sticker which changes annually. In the year 2015, verification stickers are royal blue in colour.
There are essentially three types of stickers namely:
a)  The General Sticker;
b)  H1 and H2 Stickers; and
c)  Rejection Sticker.
a) The General Sticker is placed on instruments such as weighbridges, baggage weighers at airports, abattoir and butchery scales, bakery scales and all other trade scales used to measure pre-packaged commodities in retail outlets. The validity of the General Sticker is one year. This means that the accuracy of all the measuring and weighing instruments with a General Sticker is valid for 12 months before they are due for re-verification.
b)    The other type of Sticker is the H1 and H2 Sticker which is valid for six months. This is used after a verification for accuracy has been done on measuring instruments used in the petroleum industry such as the fuel nozzles of pump dispensers at filling stations. The verification of fuel pumps is done twice in a year, January and June, hence the use of the coding H1 and H2 to represent the first half and second half of the year respectively. During the first half of every year, a verification sticker at a filling station dispenser will show that a fuel nozzle is valid up to June of that year. In a like manner, during the second half of the year, the verification sticker on the fuel dispenser will show that it is valid up to December of that year.
c) The Rejection Sticker is placed on a measuring and weighing instrument which fails the test of accuracy. Consumers ought to be alert and refuse to be sold commodities that have been measured with an instrument stamped with a Rejection Sticker. As a matter of fact, traders with inaccurate instruments run the risk of having such instruments locked so that they are not used for trade. The owners are then given time to have their instruments corrected by technicians who are certified by ZWMA. Once an instrument which was rejected has been corrected, ZWMA reverifies that particular instrument to be certain that it measures accurately. Upon reverification and complying with the requirements, the instrument is issued with the appropriate sticker.
Even after verification is done and instruments are provided with valid stickers, ZWMA still conducts spot checks on valid instruments to monitor compliance and deter traders from tampering and adjusting verified instruments to cheat unsuspecting consumers.
It is a criminal offence punishable by law for a trader to use weighing and measuring equipment that have not been availed to ZWMA for verification for accuracy. Therefore, ZWMA is the sole body responsible for conducting verifications and inspections on all weighing and measuring instruments used for trade purposes in all sectors of the economy in the country.
For queries, complaints and clarifications on this article or dissatisfaction of quantities of products you buy, please do not hesitate to contact:
The Chief Executive
Officer Zambia Weights and Measures Agency
Plot 2387 Longolongo Road P.O Box 30989
Lusaka
Tel: +260 211 222294
Fax: +260 211 222297
Email:info@zwma.org.zm
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Zambia Weights and Measures Agency:  FOR CONFIDENCE IN MEASUREMENTS!

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