Viagra is the most frequently counterfeited product on the market. Running a close second – and of far more concern to workplace safety experts – come electrical components. The Electrical Safety Foundation International has identified more than 1 million fake parts that can easily fail, putting workers at risk of serious injury or death from electrical accidents.
To protect your employees against this danger (and make sure that you’re getting the parts you’re paying for), manufacturers offer these guidelines:
- Buy from an authorized dealer whenever possible. However, bear in mind that counterfeit parts are often mixed in with the genuine article, making them difficult for reputable dealers to detect. Also, a broker might be your only source for discontinued items.
- Examine the packaging. Check for such obvious discrepancies as logos that are missing or don’t look right, misspelled or badly edited text, etc.; and make sure that shipping documents and parts numbers on the packaging match.
- Check the product. To make sure that a part looks and feels right, lay it next to a genuine component and see if they match. If they don’t, have an expert examine the product using a microscope, X-ray, or ion chromatography technology that can detect tampering.
- Test the part. Because many counterfeits can pass basic functionality tests, it makes sense to send any suspicious products to an independent lab for testing under a variety of conditions. This is the best way to detect actual manufacturer components that were discarded because of damage or quality control failures. Don’t choose a lab based strictly on price; ask for a detailed listing of its procedures and inspect the facility in person.