Virginia weights, measures inspectors protect consumers, sellers
This week commemorates the anniversary of John Adams’ signing of the first weights and measures law on March 2, 1799, which required that each state receive a set of weights and measures standards. Weights and measures laws ensure that consumers get what they pay for, whether it is a gallon of gas, a pound of lunchmeat or the same price at the checkout scanner as the one on the shelves.
The VDACS Office of Weights and Measures is responsible for the inspection of all commercially used weighing and measuring devices in the Commonwealth. The office administers the state’s laws and regulations designed to maintain the integrity of transactions between buyers and sellers and prevent unfair competition in the marketplace.
Inspectors in the Office of Weights and Measures use highly accurate field standards and equipment to test commercial scales, meters and scanning equipment, and check the weight of packaged products. Inspectors are also responsible for testing the accuracy of fuel pumps and sampling of motor fuels. The office licenses individuals who certify the accuracy of weight tickets, called public weighmasters. In addition to its main office in Richmond, the Office of Weights and Measures operates three field offices and a metrology laboratory.
During fiscal year 2018, the office performed the following testing and inspection activities:
- Conducted more than 87,000 tests of weights and measures devices, rejecting more than 19,000 for inaccuracies.
- Collected and tested nearly 5,300 samples of motor fuels to verify octane ratings, percentage of ethanol and checked for the presence of water in the fuel.
- Conducted nearly 60,000 point-of-sale inspections to verify the accuracy of store checkout scanners.
- Verified the accurate weighing of more than 16,200 store-wrapped packaged items.
- Investigated 520 consumer complaints.
- Conducted more than 11,234 calibrations of standards of mass and volume (VDACS is the local resource for governments and industries calibrating to national standards), and police radar tuning forks.