State and local jurisdictions throughout the country are celebrating Weights and Measures Week which takes place the first seven days of March every year. Weights and Measures Week commemorates the signing of the first United States weights and measures law by President John Adams on March 2, 1799. The evolution of a uniform system of weights and measures has had a profound and necessary impact on society and government. It provides uniformity and confidence in the marketplace for both consumers and businesses. All participants in an economy are more likely to engage openly in trade if they are assured of fairness in transactions. Weights and Measures programs contribute greatly to economic development by promoting equity in the marketplace to all stakeholders.
The inspections conducted by Vermont Agency of Agriculture Weights & Measures field staff provide equity in the marketplace and consumer protection by testing and inspecting commercial devices used in commerce. Each year the Vermont program inspects over 6,000 gas pumps, 425 fuel oil truck meters, 225 propane truck meters, and thousands of scales and packages. Inspectors conduct hundreds of price verification inspections, testing the accuracy of laser scanning systems in retail outlets. This work promotes consumer protection by ensuring that these devices are accurate and by monitoring pricing integrity and weighing and measuring practices where commercial transactions occur.
In 2021, the VAAFM Weights & Measures program acquired a new Large Capacity Scale Truck which arrived at the beginning of the year. This new vehicle will be used to test and inspect large capacity scales used in industry and service applications. Inspectors test and inspect these devices located at mines, feed plants, transfer stations, asphalt plants, recycling locations, and scrap metal yards. The scales tested are designed to weigh trucks, and the capacities may reach 200,000 lbs. The new testing vehicle is a state-of-the-art unit which contains a calibrated 4,000 lb. weight cart that can hold 20,000 lbs. of certified weight. The testing unit has a hoist and the ability to carry and unload the weight cart and certified weights for each inspection. The Weights and Measures Metrology Laboratory has also expanded its scope of operation to include the calibration of weight carts giving the program total integration and traceability of all standards as well as test procedures.
In addition to the calibration of weight carts, the Weights and Measures Metrology Laboratory staff maintain the state standards, conduct calibrations on weighing and measuring artifacts, provide calibration traceability, and submit annual audits for laboratory certification. Each year the laboratory tests thousands of hydrometers utilized by the maple industry, weights ranging in size from 1,000 lbs. to 0.001 lb. and numerous test measures used in the inspection and calibration of thousands of fuel pumps.
Weights & Measures inspectors work to ensure accurate and correct devices are used for sales of goods and services to consumers, ensure pricing accuracy in retail stores, and address many consumer concerns that are brought to the office’s attention. Weights and Measures Week serves as a reminder of the great value consumers receive from Weights and Measures programs. The next time you purchase gas, take a trip to the grocery store, or receive a delivery of fuel at your home, remember that dedicated staff members from the Weights and Measures Program are working diligently to ensure accuracy, fairness, and protection to all.
For more information about the Agency of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures program, contact Marc Paquette, Weights and Measures Chief, Marc.Paquette@vermont.gov 802-828-2426.