Canadian Standards Association

Canadian Standards Association
Canadian Standards Association
CSA Standards Logo
Formation 1919
Type Non-Profit
Purpose/focus Standards organization
Location 5060 Spectrum Way, Suite 100,
Mississauga, Ontario L4W 5N6 Canada
Coordinates 43°38′58″N 79°36′28″W / 43.649442°N 79.607721°W / 43.649442; -79.607721Coordinates: 43°38′58″N 79°36′28″W / 43.649442°N 79.607721°W / 43.649442; -79.607721
The CSA certification mark

The Canadian Standards Association, also known as the CSA, is a not-for-profit Standards organization with the stated aim of developing standards for use in 57 different areas of specialisation. CSA is a provider of print and electronic standards, related training and elearning, as well as Advisory Services.

CSA is composed of representatives from government, industry, and consumer groups.

CSA began as the Canadian Engineering Standards Association(CESA) in 1919, federally chartered to create standards.[1] During World War I, lack of interoperability between technical resources led to frustration, injury, and death. Britain requested that Canada form a standards committee.

Today, CSA is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, a crown corporation mandated with promoting efficient and effective standardisation in Canada,[2] as a standards development organisation and as a certification body.[3] This accredition verifies that CSA is competent to carry out these functions, and is based on internationally recognised criteria and procedures.[4]

Their registered mark shows that a product has been independently tested and certified to meet recognized standards for safety or performance.



During World War I, lack of interoperability between technical resources led to frustration, injury, and death. Britain requested that Canada form a standards committee.

Sir John Kennedy, Chairman of the Civil Engineers' Canadian Advisory Committee, led his committee to ask itself two questions: First, was such an organisation required, and if it was, should it be an extension of the British committee?

As a result of the meetings, the Canadian Engineering Standards Association (CESA) was established in 1919. CESA was federally chartered to create standards.[5] At the beginning, they attended to specific needs: Aircraft parts; Bridges; building construction; electrical work; and wire rope.

The first standards issued by CESA were for steel railway bridges, in 1920.

In 1927, CESA published the Canadian Electrical Code, a document which is still CSA's best seller. Enforcing the code called for product testing, and in 1933, the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario became the sole source for testing nationwide. In 1940, CESA assumed responsibility for testing and certifying electrical products intended for sale and installation in Canada.

CESA was renamed the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) in 1944. The certification mark was introduced in 1946. In the 1950s, CSA established international alliances in Britain, Japan, and the Netherlands, to expant its scope in testing and certification. Testing labs were expanded from their first in Toronto, to labs in Montreal, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.

In the 1960s, CSA developed national Occupational Health and Safety Standards, creating standards for headgear and safety shoes.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the CSA began to expand its involvement in consumer standards, including bicycles, credit cards, and child resistant packaging for drugs.

In 1984, CSA established QMI, the Quality Management Institute for registration of ISO9000 and other standards.

In 1999, CSA International was established to provide of international product testing and certification services while CSA shifted its primary focus to standards development and training. In 2001, these three divisions were joined under the name CSA Group.

In 2004, OnSpeX was launched as the fourth division of CSA Group.

In 2008, QMI was sold to SAI-Global for $40 million.

In 2009, CSA purchased SIRA.[6]

Standards development

CSA exists to develop standards. Among the fifty-seven different areas of specialization are climate change, business management and safety and performance standards, including those for electrical and electronic equipment, industrial equipment, boilers and pressure vessels, compressed gas handling appliances, environmental protection, and construction materials.

Most standards are voluntary, meaning there are no laws requiring their application. Despite that, adherence to standards is beneficial to companies because it shows products have been independently tested to meet certain standards. The CSA mark is a registered certification mark, and can only be applied by someone who is licensed or otherwise authorised to do so by the CSA.

CSA developed the CAN/CSA Z299 series of quality assurance standards, which are still in use today. They are an alternative to the ISO 9000 series of quality standards.

Laws and regulations in most municipalities, provinces and states in North America require certain products to be tested to a specific standard or group of standards by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). Currently forty percent of all the standards issued by CSA are referenced in Canadian legislation. CSA's sister company CSA International is an NRTL which manufacturers can choose, usually because the law of the jurisdiction requires it, or the customer specifies it.

Product certification

CSA is a division of CSA Group which also includes CSA International, a global certification and testing organization, and OnSpeX, a provider of consumer product evaluation services.


OnSpeX is a division of CSA Group. OnSpeX is a provider of global product performance evaluation services for the consumer product and retail markets with expertise in product design consulting, product specifications, product evaluation, inspection and data analytics.

OnSpeX provides various evaluation, inspection and advisory services designed to help organizations accelerate supply chains, increase product sales, build customer satisfaction and lower product return rates.


Counterfeit marks are a growing problem, and are becoming a significant enough problem that the CSA has launched aggressive anti-counterfeiting initiatives to combat it.[7] Products improperly bearing certification markings may not be built to proper safety standards, and can be hazardous.[8] Because manufacturers of counterfeit products can use inferior materials or designs, and don't need to pay for product testing, products bearing counterfeit certification markings are often priced far lower than legitimately labelled products[9]


External links

Further reading

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