History of Metrology in Belize
Belize’s Measurement System has long been deeply rooted in legal metrology. By strict definition, the International Organization for Legal Metrology (OIML) defines Legal Metrology as “the practice and the process of applying regulatory structure and enforcement to metrology.”
Simplified from its definition to its application, it serves to ensure that a measuring device or instrument used in daily trade performs in such a way so as to guarantee accuracy in the measurement. While measurements impact every aspect of our daily lives it is easier to think of them for the things that are most easily relatable. A pound of rice, sugar or beans at your local convenient store should weigh no more and certainly not less than the stated amount, so should a gallon of gasoline at your regular service station not be less than the stated volume at the pump. While it serves to ensure value for money for good social and economic reasons in daily transactions, it also is equally and critically important for health. A sphygmomanometer, an instrument commonly used by your family doctor to measure your blood pressure is required to perform accurately to ensure a reading for a proper diagnosis to be given, so should a thermometer, or any other medical device used to diagnose patients, perform in similar fashion. Perhaps often taken too lightly, measurements can be a life or death situation. Stopping to reflect for just a moment one can safely say that measurements are part of our daily lives. It impacts at the individual or personal level and at the macro or wider level as we go about transacting.
As a former British Colony, the accuracy of weighing devices such as a scale was verified by the Police Department. This responsibility entailed routine inspection of scales in the marketplace. To perform this task each department was equipped with a set of calibrated test weights that were used to verify the accuracy of scales. It is important to note that legal metrology is a regulatory responsibility particularly for the reasons previously given. The law that afforded the exercise of this regulatory responsibility was at the time written into the Weights and Measures Act. Over time this responsibility would graduate to the National Standards Bodies as there were established.