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FREQUENTLY ASK QUESTION

1. Explain terms "Accreditation" and "Certification".

Accreditation:

Accreditation is the recognition by an authority to the technical and organizational competence of a conformity assessment body to carry out a specific service in accordance to the standards and technical regulations as described in their scope of accreditation.

Certification:

Certification is the procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a product, process, system or person conforms to specified requirements.

2. What are the reasons for existence of these standards?

Its in the absence of these standards, we actually realize the importance of these standards. Its because of these standards we find a benchmark in the products we use. These standards ensure that the products manufactured are of good quality and safe to be used. We are usually unaware of the role played by standards in raising levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability – as well as in providing such benefits at an economical cost.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest authority of standards. Though its main area is the development of technical standards, ISO standards also have important economic and social repercussions. ISO standards make a positive difference, not just to engineers and manufacturers for whom they solve basic problems in production and distribution, but to society as a whole.

ISO standards contribute to making the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner. They make trade between countries easier and fairer. They provide governments with a technical base for health, safety and environmental legislation. They aid in transferring technology to developing countries. ISO standards also serve to safeguard consumers, and users in general, of products and services – as well as to make their lives simpler.

3. What is ISO?

ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 153 countries, on the basis of one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.

Unlike United Nation, ISO is a non-governmental organization: its members are not, delegations of national governments. Nevertheless, ISO occupies a special position between the public and private sectors. This is because, on the one hand, many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by their government. On the other hand, other members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations.

Therefore, ISO acts as a bridge between business and the broader needs of society ,where a consensus can be reached on solutions that meet the requirements of both, such as the needs of stakeholder groups like consumers and users.

4.What does ISO stands for?

Word ISO is derived from the Greek word is, that means “equal”. Though it stands for “International Organization for Standardization”, but it would have different abbreviations in different languages (“IOS” in English, “OIN” in French for Organization international de normalization). Therefore, to avoid any confusion, whatever the country, whatever the language, the short form of the organization’s name is always ISO.

5.How did ISO started?

International standardization began in the electrotechnical field: the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) was established in 1906. Pioneering work in other fields was carried out by the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA), which was set up in 1926. The emphasis within ISA was laid heavily on mechanical engineering. ISA’s activities came to an end in 1942.

In 1946, delegates from 25 countries met in London and decided to create a new international organization, of which the object would be “to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards”. The new organization, ISO, officially began operations on 23 February 1947.

6.What does ‘International Standardization’ mean?

A consensus agreement is signed between national delegations representing all the economic stakeholders concerned – suppliers, users, government regulators and other interest groups, such as consumers, when a large majority of products or services in a particular business or industry sector conform to International Standards, a state of industry-wide standardization can be said to exist.

7.How does ISO standardization benefit society as a whole?

For businesses

The widespread adoption of International Standards means that suppliers can base the development of their products and services on specifications that have wide acceptance in their sectors. This, in turn, means that businesses using International Standards are increasingly free to compete on many more markets around the world.

For customers

the worldwide compatibility of technology which is achieved when products and services are based on International Standards brings them an increasingly wide choice of offers, and they also benefit from the effects of competition among suppliers.

For Governments

International Standards provide the technological and scientific bases underpinning health, safety and environmental legislation.

For trade officials

Negotiating the emergence of regional and global markets, International Standards create “a level playing field” for all competitors on those markets. The existence of divergent national or regional standards can create technical barriers to trade, even when there is political agreement to do away with restrictive import quotas and the like. International Standards are the technical means by which political trade agreements can be put into practice.

For developing countries

International Standards that represent an international consensus on the state of the art constitute an important source of technological know-how. By defining the characteristics that products and services will be expected to meet on export markets, International Standards give developing countries a basis for making the right decisions when investing their scarce resources and thus avoid squandering them.

For Planet Earth

International Standards on air, water and soil quality, and on emissions of gases and radiation, can contribute to efforts to preserve the environment.

8.What are the Hallmarks of the ISO Brand?

Equal footing: Every participating ISO member institute (full members) has right to participate in the development of any standard which it judges to be important to its country’s economy. No matter what the size or strength of that economy, each participating member in ISO has one vote. ISO’s activities are thus carried out in a democratic framework where each country is on an equal footing to influence the direction of ISO’s work at the strategic level, as well as the technical content of its individual standards.

Voluntary: ISO standards are voluntary. As a non-governmental organization, ISO has no legal authority to enforce their implementation. A certain percentage of ISO standards – mainly those concerned with health, safety or the environment – has been adopted in some countries as part of their regulatory framework, or is referred to in legislation for which it serves as the technical basis. Such adoptions are sovereign decisions by the regulatory authorities or governments of the countries concerned; ISO itself does not regulate or legislate. However, although ISO standards are voluntary, they may become a market requirement, as has happened in the case of ISO 9000 quality management systems, or of dimensions of freight containers and bank cards.

Market-driven: ISO develops only those standards for which there is a market requirement. The work is carried out by experts from the industrial, technical and business sectors which have asked for the standards, and which subsequently put them to use. These experts may be joined by others with relevant knowledge, such as representatives of government agencies, consumer organizations, academia and testing laboratories.

Consensus: Although ISO standards are voluntary, the fact that they are developed in response to market demand, and are based on consensus among the interested parties, ensures widespread applicability of the standards. Consensus, like technology, evolves and ISO takes account both of evolving technology and of evolving interests by requiring a review of its standards at least every five years to decide whether they should be maintained, updated or withdrawn. In this way, ISO standards retain their position as the state of the art, as agreed by an international cross-section of experts in the field.

Worldwide: ISO standards are technical agreements which provide the framework for compatible technology worldwide. Developing technical consensus on this international scale is a major operation. In all, there are some 3,000 ISO technical groups (technical committees, subcommittees, working groups etc.) in which some 50 000 experts participate annually to develop ISO standards.

9. ISO and world trade

ISO alongwith with IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and ITU (International Telecommunication Union) – has built a strategic partnership with the WTO (World Trade Organization) with the objective to promote a free and fair global trading system. ISO, IEC and ITU, as the three principal organizations in international standardization, have the complimentary scopes, the framework, the expertise and the experience to provide this technical support for the growth of the global market.

10. ISO and developing countries

ISO standards are source of knowledge and technology. These countries have limited resources, hence they  gain from this wealth of knowledge. For them, ISO standards are an important means both of acquiring technological know-how that is backed by international consensus as the state of the art, and of raising their capability to export and compete on global markets.

11. How to we recognize an ISO standard ?

It can be anything from a four-page document to one several hundred pages’ long and, in the future, will increasingly be available in electronic form. It carries the ISO logo and the designation, “International Standard”. In most cases, it is published in A4 format – which is itself one of the ISO standard paper sizes.

12. Put some light on the vast World of ISO Standards.

Since 1947, ISO has published more than 15 000 International Standards. ISO’s work programme ranges from standards for traditional activities, such as agriculture and construction, through mechanical engineering, to medical devices, to the newest information technology developments, such as the digital coding of audio-visual signals for multimedia applications.

Standardization of screw threads helps to keep chairs, children’s bicycles and aircraft together and solves the repair and maintenance problems caused by a lack of standardization that were once a major headache for manufacturers and product users. Standards establishing an international consensus on terminology make technology transfer easier and can represent an important stage in the advancement of new technologies.Without the standardized dimensions of freight containers, international trade would be slower and more expensive. Without the standardization of telephone and banking cards, life would be more complicated. A lack of standardization may even affect the quality of life itself: for the disabled, for example, when they are barred access to consumer products, public transport and buildings because the dimensions of wheel-chairs and entrances are not standardized.

Standardized symbols provide danger warnings and information across linguistic frontiers. Consensus on grades of various materials give a common reference for suppliers and clients in business dealings.

Agreement on a sufficient number of variations of a product to meet most current applications allow economies of scale with cost benefits for both producers and consumers. An example is the standardization of paper sizes.

Standardization of performance or safety requirements of diverse equipment makes sure that users’ needs are met while allowing individual manufacturers the freedom to design their own solution on how to meet those needs.

13. Why are ISO 9000 and 14000 important?

The ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 are one of the ISO’s most widely known standards ever. ISO 9000 has become an international reference for quality requirements in business to business dealings, and ISO 14000 looks set to achieve at least as much, if not more, in helping organizations to meet their environmental challenges.

ISO 9000 is concerned with “quality management”. This means what the organization does to increase customer satisfaction by meeting customer needs and applicable regulatory requirements and continually to improve its performance in this regard. ISO 14000 is primarily concerned with “environmental management”. This means what the organization does to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities, and continually to improve its environmental performance.

14. Why is ‘Conformity Assessment’ important?

‘Conformity Assessment’ includes checking that products, materials, services, systems or people measure up to the specifications of a relevant standard. Today, most of the products require testing for conformance with specifications or compliance with safety, or other regulations before they can be put on many markets. Even simpler products may require supporting technical documentation that includes test data. With so much trade taking place across borders, conformity assessment has become an important component of the world economy.

15.Where can be the information on ISO on standards can be found?

Information on ISO’s entire portfolio of standards can be found online on ISO Catalogue. The site also provides access to the World Standards Services Network (WSSN) which is a network of publicly accessible Web servers of standards organizations around the world. Through this Web site & WSSN provides information on international, regional and national standardization and related activities and services.

16. Who can Apply for ISO membership?

Membership of ISO is open to national standards institutes most representative of standardization in their country (one member in each country). Full members, known as “Member bodies”, each have one vote, whatever the size or strength of the economy of the country concerned. In addition, ISO has two categories of membership for countries which do not yet have a fully developed national standards activity. They pay reduced membership fees. “Correspondent members” are entitled to participate in any policy or technical body as observers, with no voting rights. “Subscriber members” are institutes from countries with very small economics that nevertheless wish to maintain contact with international standardization. Although individuals or enterprises are not eligible for membership, both have a range of opportunities for taking part in ISO’s work, or in contributing to the development of standards through the ISO member in their country.

17. How is the ISO system managed ?

All strategic decisions are referred to the ISO members, who meet for an annual General Assembly. The proposals put to the members are developed by the ISO Council, drawn from the membership as a whole, which resembles the board of directors of a business organization. ISO Council meets two times a year and its membership is rotated to ensure that it is representative of ISO’s membership. Operations are managed by a Secretary-General, which is a permanent appointment. The Secretary-General reports to the ISO Council, the latter being chaired by the President who is a prominent figure in standardization or in business, elected for two years. The Secretary-General is based at ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, with a compact staff which provides administrative and technical support to the ISO members, coordinates the decentralized standards’ development programme, and publishes the output.

18. How is the ISO system is financed ?

There are two ways ISO is financed:

  1. Its national member pay a subscription cost that manages the operational cost at the secreatariat.
  2. Sale of Standards

19. Which standard to develop how is it decided?

Working through the ISO system, it is the sectors which need the standards that are at the origin of their development. What happens is that the need for a standard is felt by an industry or business sector which communicates the requirement to one of ISO’s national members. The latter then proposes the new work item to ISO as a whole. If accepted, the work item is assigned to an existing technical committee. Proposals may also be made to set up technical committees to cover new scopes of activity. In order to use resources efficiently, ISO only launches the development of new standards for which there is clearly a market requirement.

The focus of the technical committees is necessarily specialized and specific. In addition, ISO has three general policy development committees and their job is to provide strategic guidance for the standards’ development work on cross-sectoral aspects. They are: CASCO (conformity assessment); COPOLCO (consumer policy), and DEVCO (developing country matters). These committees help to ensure that the specific technical work is aligned with broader market and stakeholder group interests.

20. Who develops ISO standards ?

ISO standards are developed by technical committees that includes experts from the industrial, technical and business sectors which have asked for the standards, and which subsequently put them to use. These experts may be joined by others with relevant knowledge, such as representatives of government agencies, testing laboratories, consumer associations, environmentalists, academic circles and so on.

21. How are ISO standards developed ?

The Experts of technical committee discuss, debate and argue to reach consensus on a draft agreement. This is then circulated as a Draft International Standard (DIS) to ISO’s membership as a whole for comment and balloting. Many members have public review procedures for making draft standards known and available to the interested parties and to the general public. The ISO members then take account of any feedback they receive in formulating their position on the draft standard. If the voting is in favour, the document, with eventual modifications, is circulated to the ISO members as a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS). If that vote is positive, the document is then published as an International Standard.

22. When is speed of the essence ?

ISO standards are developed according to strict rules to ensure that they are transparent and fair. The reverse side of the coin is that it can take time to develop consensus among the interested parties and for the resulting agreement to go through the public review process in the ISO member countries. For some users of standards, particularly those working in fast-changing technology sectors, it may be more important to agree on a technical specification and publish it quickly, before going through the various checks and balances needed to win the status of a full International Standard. Therefore, to meet such needs, ISO has developed a new range of “deliverables”, or different categories of specifications, allowing publication at an intermediate stage of development before full consensus: Publicly Available Specification (PAS), Technical Specification (TS), Technical Report (TR), International Workshop Agreement (IWA).

23. Put some light on the International Partners of ISO.

For  international standardization ISO collaborates with:

  1.  IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and
  2. ITU (International Telecommunication Union).

For harmonization of regulations and public policies, ISO works in collaboration with the United Nations Organization and its specialized agencies and commissions, such as: –

  • CODEX Alimentarius for food safety measurement, management and traceability;
  • UN ECE for the use of ISO Standards in relation to the safety of motor vehicles or the transportation of dangerous goods;
  • WHO, the World Health Organization for health technologies;
  • WMO, the World Maritime Organization, for securing maritime and intermodal transport;
  • WTO-T, the World Tourism Organization, for the quality of services related to tourism;
  • or with those engaged in bringing assistance and support to developing countries such as UNCTAD, UNIDO or the International Trade Centre.

ISO’s technical committees have liaison with some 580 international and regional organizations, which complement this impressive network and which, together with the network of its national members, is key for the global relevance, actual use and recognition of its Standards by the market forces and the general public.

24. Put some light on ISO’s Regional Partnership.

A number of ISO’s members belong to regional standardization organizations. This makes it easier for ISO to build bridges with regional standardization activities throughout the world. ISO has recognized regional standards organizations representing Africa, the Arab countries, the area covered by the Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe, Latin America, the Pacific area, and the South-East Asia nations.