ISO STANDARDS AND THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION
What is ISO?
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization,
a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from more than 140 countries..
It is a non-governmental organization with the mission of
"promoting the development of standardization and related activities in the
world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and
services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual,
scientific, technological and economic activity". It was established in
Its work results in international agreements which are
subsequently published as International Standards.
At time of web site publication, ISO comprised: 146
national standards bodies, 2937 technical bodies and an equivalent full time
staff of over 500 persons. Around 30 000 experts participate in meetings each
year. It is clearly a substantial body.
What are Standards?
Officially (BSI) a standard is defined as "a document, established by
consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and
repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their
Standards areof course varied. They can exist for physical items and
for 'making things happen' (services). They often represent an indispensable
level of knowledge/expertise in any specific area. In the context of public
contracts or international trade, standards are often essential to simplify and
clarify contractual relations.
Committees of manufacturers, users, research organizations, government
departments and consumers work together to create standards that evolve to meet
the demands of society and technology. Staff (eg: BSI) act as secretaries to
these committees and project manage the production of the standards.
BSI is the oldest national standards body in the world and a major
contributor to internation standards. Last year, for instance, 1400 new
standards were published and some 3000 technical committees and working groups
covering 16,000 standards were supported. BSI's library has access to over
500,000 different standards
Types of Standard
Standards are sometimes prefixed by different codes - which can be confusing.
However, the following may help:
- All British standards use the product identifier "BS"
- All British adoptions of European Standards are identified with "BS
- All International standards are identified with "ISO"
- All International standards adopted as British standards are identified
with "BS ISO".
Why have Standards?
A common question! However, consider the following:
These are just a handful of issues that are covered by standards - standards
designed to create a common framework to ensure both widespread usability and
safety. You can see just from these examples how they help facilitate
consistency and therefore benefit both suppliers and consumers.
- what if credit cards were different sizes?
- what if light bulbs didn't fit into lamps?
- what if railway lines were different widths?
- what if microwave ovens emitted large amounts of harmful radiation?
Finally: What's in a Name?
We started by stating that ISO is the International
Organization for Standardization. But should this not be IOS? Well... no!
ISO is actually a word. To quote ISO themselves, it is:
derived from the Greek isos, meaning "equal", which is the root of the
prefix "iso-" that occurs in a host of terms, such as
"isometric" (of equal measure or dimensions) and "isonomy"
(equality of laws, or of people before the law).
The rest of this web site provides information and background on a selection
of the most popular standards. It also provides an official source (BSI) from
which to obtain the standards themselves.
IF YOU NEED
A STANDARD THEN VISIT US AT