What is a standard?
A standard is a document that has been prepared, approved, and published by a recognized standards organization, and contains rules, requirements, or procedures, for an orderly approach to a specific activity. Standards may include product design requirements, test methods, classifications, recommended practices, and other considerations.
Many standards define safety requirements intended to reduce the risk of personal injury due to electrical shock or fire. Some standards set levels of performance for products. Some address social concerns, such as how our environment is managed or how information is used.
Who sets the standards?
Standards are established by a number of nationally and internationally recognized organizations. Many of these organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and American Welding Society (AWS), for example, are associated with a specific industry or area of expertise. Some organizations, such as the Canadian Standards Association, develop regional and national standards in a wide range of subject areas.
Standards organizations work with interested parties—including industry representatives, consumers, and regulatory bodies—to define the requirements that become the published standard.
Are standards law?
Some standards are voluntary; others become mandatory in certain jurisdictions.
Standards organizations are not government bodies and so they do not have the power to make a standard mandatory. A standard only becomes law if a federal, state, regional, provincial or municipal government references it in legislation.
Even if a standard is not mandatory, many organizations choose to comply in order to demonstrate their commitment to quality, performance or safety