Overview of the Division of Standards

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Division of Standards

Table of Contents


Chapter 350 of the Acts of 1919 established the Office of the Commissioner of Weights and Measures as a division of the Department of Labor and Industries. Subsequently, Chapter 704 of the Acts of 1969 formally established the Division of Standards (DOS) in its current form and placed it under the administration of the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs (now known as the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation).

DOS is responsible for enforcing standards for weighing and measuring devices used in the sale of items such as food and fuel. It also regulates the sale of gasoline and sets standards for lubricating oils, antifreeze, and other items and practices; tests and approves coin-operated devices; licenses auctioneers, transient vendors, promoters, and sellers; registers car-repair shops; inspects price scanners in retail stores and tests them for accuracy; offers training for town and city inspectors; enforces item-pricing laws and regulations; and oversees grants for enforcing legislatively enacted price and scanner requirements. To fulfill its responsibilities, DOS has promulgated regulations under Title 202 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR).

As of June 30, 2018, DOS had 17 employees: 10 inspectors certified in accordance with 202 CMR 6, as well as 7 managerial and clerical employees. DOS had a fiscal year 2018 budget of $1,582,101, consisting of $870,674 from retained revenue,1 a general appropriation of $551,055, and a $160,372 appropriation for item-pricing inspections.2 DOS maintains a laboratory in Needham to certify all state and local weights and measures that meet the standards set forth by the federal National Institute of Standards and Technology. In addition, the laboratory provides calibration services for various industries, including the aerospace industry.

Inspection of Weighing and Measuring Devices

Chapter 98 of the Massachusetts General Laws regulates the use of weighing and measuring devices in commerce in the Commonwealth and requires the annual inspection of such devices to ensure that they weigh and measure goods accurately. The inspections can be conducted at any time during the calendar year. Under Section 34 of Chapter 98 of the General Laws, towns and cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants must appoint inspectors to annually inspect all weighing and measuring devices therein. Under Section 35 of Chapter 98 of the General Laws, cities and towns with populations between 5,000 and 20,000 have the options of appointing their own inspectors, hiring and sharing inspectors to perform the inspections in multiple municipalities, or contracting with DOS to have the agency perform the inspections.

Section 33A of Chapter 98 of the General Laws states that the deputy director of DOS and their deputies must perform the inspections for towns with 5,000 or fewer inhabitants as of the most recent federal census, rather than requiring those towns to appoint inspectors to perform them (see Appendix).

Certification of Inspectors of Weights and Measures

Section 29 of Chapter 98 of the General Laws establishes a DOS advisory committee whose members comprise the director of DOS or their designee, as well as designees from the Massachusetts Weights and Measures Association, the Eastern Massachusetts Weights and Measures Association, the Western Massachusetts Weights and Measures Association, and the City of Boston’s Department of Inspectional Services. This committee is required to develop and amend certification and continuing education requirements for inspectors working throughout the Commonwealth at the local and state levels.

The standards for certification are codified in 202 CMR 6. According to 202 CMR 6.02, people applying to be certified inspectors of weights and measures must be at least 18 years old, must possess a high school diploma or equivalent, must pass the certification exam (which covers various aspects of the requirements for weights and measures outlined throughout the General Laws), and must be “of good moral character.” Furthermore, certified inspectors of weights and measures must comply with continuing education requirements to maintain their certifications. DOS is responsible for administering the exam and certifying inspectors of weights and measures.

Standards Used to Inspect Weighing and Measuring Devices

Section 29 of Chapter 98 of the General Laws states that all testing of weighing and measuring devices must follow guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s NIST Handbook 44—Specifications, Tolerances, and Other Technical Requirements for Weighing and Measuring Devices.

1.    Retained revenue is a type of budget line item where an agency is authorized to spend a designated portion of its revenue for a specific program or purpose.

2.    Section 56D of Chapter 98 of the Massachusetts General Laws requires DOS to examine all retail establishments with three or more cash registers to verify that the establishments are charging the advertised price for goods at checkout. This examination must be performed once every two years.

Date published: January 31, 2019

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