What are standards bodies/standards development organizations? Definition and examples
What is a standards body or organization?
A standards body or organization is an organization that develops, maintains, or applies technical standards in its industry. Even though most standards from these organizations are voluntary (not mandated by law), standards bodies are important in ensuring standardization of expectations across relevant parties. It should be noted that certain standards are incorporated into law, making them mandatory. This is a significant challenge for organizations. Another critical issue is that many standards remain copyright protected and to gain access, you must purchase a copy from the appropriate standards body.
If you are interested in tracking changes to standards, both voluntary and mandatory, please contact Nimonik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article lists and describes some of the most important standards bodies that may affect your business’ operations.
3 Types of Standards Organizations
There are three major levels or types of standards organizations- international standards bodies, national standards bodies, and standards developing organizations (SDOs).
International Standards Bodies
International standards bodies develop international standards. The three most well-established international standards organizations are the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
National Standards Bodies (NSBs)
There is usually one ISO-recognized national standards body in each country. These organizations typically do not develop the technical standards themselves but rather act as supervisors and accreditors. For example, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredits standards, organizations, and procedures of standards developed by standards developing organizations. Some of these standards, though National, can be adopted internationally due to commercial reasons. This is the case for many US and EU standards, which are used worldwide to facilitate business transactions across a supply chain.
Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs)
A standards developing organization is a standards organization that develops and publishes industry-specific standards. Unlike national standards bodies, there are thousands of SDOs that specialize in specific fields. The Canadian Standards Association Group (CSA Group) is one such example.
Examples of Standards Bodies
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
The International Organization for Standardization is the largest and most well-known of the three major international standards bodies that collaborate with each other. The organization publishes standards in all topics other than electrical-related fields and has developed over 24,000 standards since its establishment in 1947. ISO is made up of 167 total member NSBs, with one representative per country.
Here are a few of the most widely used ISO standards in EHS and other related fields:
- ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems)
- ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems)
- ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems)
- ISO 19600 (Compliance Management Systems)
- ISO 50001 (Energy Management Systems)
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
The International Electrotechnical Commission is another one of the major three international standards bodies that collaborate with each other. IEC makes up for ISO’s topic gap and publishes standards for all electrical and electrotechnological-related fields.
IEC standards cover all electrotechnologies, including office equipment, solar energy, batteries, medical supplies, and so on.
Some examples of IEC standards include:
- ISO/IEC 27001 (Information Security Management) – jointly developed by the ISO and IEC
- IEC 63000 (Technical documentation for the assessment of electrical and electronic products with respect to the restriction of hazardous substances)
- IEC 60364 (Low-voltage electrical installations)
- IEC 63110 (Protocol for the management of electric vehicles charging and discharging infrastructures)
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
The International Telecommunication Union, along with ISO and IEC, are the three major international standards bodies that collaborate with each other. ITU is a specialized UN agency and deals with matters related to information and communication technology.
The ITU also has its own Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T). The ITU-T coordinates and assists the development of technical standards.
Here are a few examples of ITU standards and recommendations:
- X.509 (Information technology – Open Systems Interconnection – The Directory: Public-key and attribute certificate frameworks)
- H.264 (Advanced video coding for generic audiovisual services)
- Y.3173 (Framework for evaluating intelligence levels of future networks including IMT-2020)
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
The American National Standards Institute is a national standards body and official ISO member representing the United States. ANSI oversees the development and usage of standards but does not publish them. The institute also accredits procedures of standards-developing organizations to ensure they meet relevant requirements.
Standards Council of Canada (SCC)
The Standards Council of Canada is the national standards body that represents Canada in both ISO and IEC. SCC’s primary role, like ANSI, is to ensure standardization of the country’s standards. They may do this through processes such as accrediting standards-developing organizations and reviewing standards for approval.
American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)
The American Society of Safety Professionals is an organization composed of occupational health and safety professionals around the world. ASSP aims to reduce workplace-related risks such as worker deaths and injuries.
ASSP is entrusted with the administration and maintenance of multiple ANSI projects related to occupational health and safety.
Some examples of standards maintained by ASSP include:
- ANSI/ASSP Z117 (Confined Spaces)
- ANSI/ASSP Z359 (Fall Protection and Fall Restraint)
- ANSI/ASSP Z490 (Safety Training)
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
According to the National Fire Protection Association website, NFPA is a standards-developing organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.
NFPA currently has over 300 codes and standards that are designed to reduce the risk and effects of fire. Their procedure for developing these standards is accredited by ANSI.
Some examples of NFPA standards include:
- NFPA 1 (Fire Code)
- NFPA 10 (Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers)
- NFPA 99 (Health Care Facilities Code)
- NFPA 484 (Standard for Combustible Metals)
- NFPA 1142 (Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Firefighting)
International Automotive Task Force (IATF)
The International Automotive Task Force is composed of various vehicle manufacturers (BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and others) and their National Automotive Industry Associations (AIAG, ANFIA, FIEV, SMMT, and VDA). The group aims to improve and ensure consistency in the quality of automotive products internationally.
Though IATF is not a standards-developing organization, it created the IATF 16949 (International Standard for Automotive Quality Management Systems) standard based on ISO 9001. The group maintains close cooperation with ISO to ensure standards alignment.
German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)
The Germany Association of the Automotive Industry is Germany’s national automotive industry association and a part of the International Automotive Task Force. It publishes standards for the German automotive industry.
One of the most widely-used VDA standards is VDA 6.3. VDA 6.3 is a process audit standard for automotive production and manufacturing. In other words, the standard aims to provide a way to verify the effectiveness of parts production processes.
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Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International)
Formerly named the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE International develops engineering standards for various industries. The organization is individual membership based and currently has over 138,000 members internationally.
SAE International is the organization responsible for publishing the AS9100D Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space, and Defense Organizations standard. This standard includes the requirements specified in ISO 9001 and is widely-used in the aerospace industry.
Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
The Canadian Standards Association is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada and develops standards in 57 areas with over 3000 total standards and codes. Some topics covered by CSA include electrical, nuclear, healthcare, and so on.
Some examples of CSA standards include:
- CSA N299 (Quality assurance program requirements for the supply of items and services for nuclear power plants)
- CSA Z150 (Safety code on mobile cranes)
- CSA Z1003 (Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace)
- CSA Z8002 (Operation and maintenance of health care facilities)
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
The American Society for Testing and Materials is an international standards organization that develops and publishes technical standards for different materials, products, and related services. For example, this may include iron and steel, paints, plastics, and medical devices. With over 12,000 standards operating globally, ASTM is dedicated to “helping our world work better”.
Though ASTM standards are voluntary, some of those standards have been made mandatory by different organizations and governmental bodies. For example, the ASTM F963 standard (Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety) was adopted by the U.S. government as a requirement in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act signed in 2008. Toys must meet the requirements of ASTM F963 to be sold in the United States.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is an agency founded by the United States Congress in 1972. CPSC aims to ensure product safety and reduce the risk of injuries and deaths caused by cosumer products. To do this, CPSC takes actions such as issuing product recalls, researching product hazards, and developing voluntary/mandatory standards for consumer products.
International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA)
The International Safety Equipment Association is an association that develops ANSI-accredited safety equipment & technology standards. ISEA is made up of safety equipment manufacturer members such as 3M, Dupont, and Honeywell.
ISEA standards are recognized as American National Standards. Some examples of ISEA standards include:
- ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 (American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection Devices)
- ANSI/ISEA 105 (American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification)
- ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 (American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection)
National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOSCAE)
The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment is a standards-developing organization for protective athletic equipment. NOSCAE has 49 performance and test standards including standards for football helmets, baseballs, lacrosse face guards, ice hockey helments, soccer shin guards, and so on.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers develops voluntary standards for a wide range of engineering-related topics such as construction equipment, elevators, nuclear components, and more. With over 600 codes used in over 100 countries, ASME mission statement is to “advance engineering for the benefit of humanity”.
According to ASME’s website, some of the most commonly-used standards include:
- ASME B30.5 (Mobile and Locomotive Cranes)
- ASME B30.20 (Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices)
- ASME Y14.5 (Dimensioning and Tolerancing)
- ASME A17.1 (Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators with Addenda)
Chances are, your business is affected by technical standards. Standards can apply to all businesses big or small– from an automotive parts manufacturer ensuring quality standards through IATF 16949, to a vet clinic administering ISO-compliant microchips. The work done by standards bodies can be observed anywhere.