Standards | What You Need To Know
We ask Alison Scotland, National Sector Manager at Standards Australia, some of the basics.
Standards Australia is the nation's peak non-government, not-for-profit Standards organisation. It has a responsibility for the development and adoption of standards in Australia, as well as facilitating Australian participation in international standards development.
Alison Scotland is a National Sector Manager at Standards Australia. In this role, Alison is responsible for stakeholder engagement and standards development work in Building and Construction, and the Consumer Products, Services and Safety sector. She is a member of ISO’s Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) Chairs Group and is Secretariat for the Australian COPOLCO mirror committee. In addition to her sector duties, Alison is also responsible for coordinating and managing the organisation’s Young Leaders program.
Standards are a voluntary, consensus solutions. They document an agreement on how a material, product, process, or service should specified, perform or be delivered.
Standards provide a common and repeatable basis for doing things and help bring ‘order’ to the world.
What is a standard, & why do they exist?
There are both. As a signatory to the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT), Australia should utilise international standards and conformity assessment procedures (where they meet our needs) to the extent possible. Standards Australia is responsible for ensuring Australia’s viewpoint is heard and considered in the development of international standards (e.g. ISO or IEC), and their subsequent adoption as Australian Standards. For this we work with the Commonwealth Government to fund the attendance of Australian participants at international meetings. We also facilitate the development of local or national standards, depending on the topic.
Are they global or local standards?
No. Australian Standards are voluntary, but many because of their rigour are called up by Governments into legislation and become mandatory. This is a decision made by governments, not Standards Australia. Roughly ¾ of Australian Standards remain voluntary. In addition, Australian Standards are sometimes incorporated into legal documents, are considered a ‘benchmark of acceptability’, and are sometimes referred to in law courts as part of case law.
Are they all mandatory?
Standards Australia has an exclusive publishing licence arrangement with SAI Global. You can search for and purchase standards here: http://www.standards.org.au/SearchandBuyAStandard/Pages/default.aspx.
How can I access standards?
You can watch a short video here or visit ‘Developing Standards’ for a full description of the process. Basically, Standards Australia receives proposals from the public to develop or revise a standard. Selection is based on a range of factors, most importantly being the net benefit to the Australian community. Approved proposals then become projects assigned to a relevant technical committee. Standards Development projects may take from 6 months, up to 4 years depending on complexity.
How is a standard developed? How long does it take from start to finish ?
Standards Australia brings together more than 9000 technical, business, academic, government and community experts to form technical committees. Committee members are representatives of their industry, consumer associations, government, scientific or academic institutions. They are nominated by their organisations to represent their interests. We work with over 1500 nominating organisations to develop standards based on consensus.
Who is involved?
Can I get involved? How? What are the demands of involvement?
You certainly can. Members of technical committees are referred by nominating organisations such as the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries. You, as a member of the public, can also be involved in any standards development project by commenting on a draft standard when it becomes available for Public Comment. For a full list of drafts available for public comment, you can click here.
Some More Resources:
In case you missed our Friday Afternoon Session with Alison, we also have a copy of her presentation below:
Part of membership with the Council of Textile & Fashion means that you have opportunity to join working groups specific to the standards that are relevant to your business, and, have input into committee decisions impacting our industry. If you are already a member, or would like to join, and want to get more involved in Standards let us know.