DEVICE INSPECTIONS and CONDEMNATIONS What every operator should know? By Steve Galvan, Field Metrologist Michigan Dept of Agriculture and Rural Development Weights and Measures Program
Weights and Measures Inspectors from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are charged with protecting consumers and businesses while maintaining equity in the marketplace. The Program monitors all consumer products sold by weight, measure or count, as well as ensuring the accuracy of commercial devices used in the marketplace.
Device inspections range from retail motor fuel dispensers to large capacity truck scales, as well as many other types of commercial devices. When a device is determined to be correct and accurate, it is sealed by Weights and Measures with an approval seal.
However, in the event large errors, leaks or other serious equipment failures are observed, a red condemnation tag is placed on the device to indicate that the device cannot be used until repaired.
Red condemnation tags are very important for state weights and measures officials to ensure repairs are done correctly and in a timely manner. For that very reason, condemnation tags can only be removed by a registered serviceperson or with the authorization of an Inspector. While repairs such as worn hoses and illegible display digits generally do not impact the device accuracy, and may be repaired by the operator, authorization to remove the red tag still must be obtained before removing the tag.
What should I do when one of my devices has been removed from service? First, be aware that the department’s inspector will leave detailed reports explaining what was found and what needs to be repaired. This is important for both the operator and their service agent to better understand what needs to be done. Maintain all service records to serve as proof the proper repairs were completed.
Secondly, ask questions and call either the inspector or their supervisor to ensure you do not inadvertently create a more serious situation.
Lastly, follow the instructions you have been given. If you are going to attempt to enact repairs yourself, make sure you know all the rules that apply. Using a service company that is registered in Michigan is generally the best advice for a commercial device operator/owner.
What if the red tag is removed without approval or authority? Red tags are securely affixed to the device in question, they do not fall off, and under the law the operator is accountable. The unauthorized removal of a red condemnation tag is a violation of State Law, and penalties for the illicit removal of the tags is punishable by criminal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies and civil fines ranging from $1,000.00 to $10,000.00 for misdemeanors and $1,000.00 to $20,000.00 for felonies. The removal of red condemnation tags without permission is strictly prohibited.
The continued cooperation of operators and registered service technicians is critical to the Weights and Measures Program’s ability to ensure the best service possible to our stakeholders and industry professionals, while maintaining equity in the marketplace and protecting consumers.