Standards Update

Stakeholders sour on standards for managing
workplace safety

The idea of a world standard for managing occupational health and safety is
getting a rough reception in the United States. The American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) continues to get a deluge of negative responses to
questionnaires on the subject. The same attitude predominated at a workshop ANSI
held this spring on the health and safety proposals. Stakeholders from a wide
swathe of American sectors participated. Op-position has been much stronger than
that faced by international management standards for quality (ISO 9000) and
environmental control (ISO 14000). The main objection to adopting a worldwide
standard on health and safety management is the contention that it would add
cost but not value. Many maintain that world standards could be lower than those
already practiced in the United States. The few proponents of the idea say it
would support the movement toward a global economy. ANSI is presenting the
American viewpoint to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
What if ISO officials decide to pursue a health and safety standard anyway? Most
participants at the ANSI workshop felt that America then should become a leader
in developing the new standard. They want to prevent the undermining of U.S.
standards by the lowest common denominator of world guidelines.


Heavier consumer participation in writing guidelines pushed

An effort to let consumers have more say in drafting international standards is picking up steam. ISO's Committee on Consumer Policy launched a program this year for national standards bodies to encourage consumer representatives to join the standards-developing process. Also active is the Brussels-based Association for the Coordination of Consumer Representation in Standardization (ANEC). Formed last year, ANEC already has won associate membership in the European Committee for Standardization. ANEC played a part in ISO's recently announced strategy for 1996-1999. ISO says it plans to intensify cooperation with consumer organizations. ANEC is especially concerned with safety standards covering playground equipment, car seats, traffic hazards, and gas and electrical appliances.


ANSI, RAB to jointly accredit organizations under ISO 14000

American registrars for ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 programs will soon have "one-stop shopping" for their accreditations. That's the promise of officials at ANSI and the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB). After long, stormy negotiations, the two groups have agreed to abandon plans to run separate operations for ISO 14000 accreditations. Instead, they will offer a joint national program. It will accredit pro-viders of training courses in ISO 14000 as well as registrars who certify that organizations comply with the environmental management standards. ANSI and RAB already operate a similar program together for the ISO 9000 series of standards for quality management systems. The groups' next target is to work with international organizations so that all countries will accept ANSI-RAB accreditations.


Department of Energy posts technical standards on Net

Want to download technical standards of the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE)? The agency's Office of Scientific and Technical
Information has launched a project to post all of them on the Internet. More
than 100 already are available. Included are "Writer's Guide for Technical
Procedures," "DOE Fundamentals Handbook: Engineering, Symbology, Prints, and
Drawings," and volumes 1 and 2 of "Fundamentals Handbook, Mechanical Science."
The Internet address for DOE technical standards is http://apollo.osti.gov/html/techstds/techstds.asp


EPA imposes emission limits on outboard motors, jet-skis

For the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated emission standards for outboard motors and engines on small recreational craft. Beginning in 1998, a manufacturer of engines for motorboats and jet-skis will have to limit the average emission from its combined products. A formula, based on the power of the engine, determines the cap. During the next nine years the limits gradually tighten. After 2005, every new engine will have to emit 75% less nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbon than its current model does. EPA officials expect designers will be making major changes in engines during that period. They will have to come up with new systems for fuel injection. They may have to abandon notoriously dirty two-stroke engines. Manufacturers figure that engine prices will rise about 25%. But customers could recoup some of that, since the new engines should use 35% less fuel. The regulation falls under the Clean Air Act. It follows requirements for cuts in emissions from other "nonroad" engines, including those powering tractors and lawn mowers.

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