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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 24 - Friday, July 12, 2002
Standards and Its Development

by: The Dominica Bureau of Standards

In an effort to speed up the process of standardization, ensure the harmonization of national standards with regional standards and to facilitate trade within the region, the Dominica Bureau of Standards (DBOS) has recommended to the National Standards Council the adoption of all approved CARICOM Standards as Dominica National Standards (DNS).

We hope that through this article and subsequent postings, to give you a better understanding of the Standardization process and the importance of standards in our everyday lives. This week we will focus on Standards, the types of Standards and their development.

Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that materials, products, processes, procedures and services are fit for their intended purpose. These fall into six categories namely: glossaries or definitions of terminology, dimensional standards, performance standards, standard methods of tests, codes of practice and measurement standards.

Standards generally represent minimum levels of acceptability and are usually voluntary. However, where they impinge directly on the health and safety of the user or the environment they may be compulsory.

The content of a standard will vary according to the level of detail required for specificity. It may specify the tasks that a certain range of equipment must be able to perform, or describe in detail an apparatus and its safety features. It may also contain diagrams, symbols, codes, and test methods as well as definitions. It may describe systems, characteristics or methods of preparing documents. It may also address issues such as the qualification of technical staff, quality control and specification.

Standards are formulated by the work of local technical committees comprising persons from various interests groups such as manufacturers, producers, consumers, technical and professional organizations, governmental regulatory agencies, institutes of higher learning, as well as scientific research facilities. Through this partnership consensus on the standards are achieved.

This approach, although time consuming - it generally takes between three and five years for a standard to be developed - it allows for the adopted Standards to be more readily accepted by all parties. Currently there are four (4) Technical Committees involved in standards development here, the Fresh Produce, Construction and Construction Material, Labelling and Processed Foods.

The first step in the development of a standard is the recognition of a need for regulation in a particular area. A project to develop a standard can only be started if the need for it goes beyond national boundaries. Once the need for a standard has been established all relevant data is collected and a technical committee is formed to co-ordinate the development of the document.

The Technical Committee empowered to do so, creates a network of liaisons through consultation with bodies locally that have an interest in the work which is taking place. Consensus must be reached at all subsequent stages of development. These include working draft, draft for public comment and the final published standard.

The life of a standard does not end when it is published. Technological evolution, new methods and materials, new quality and safety requirements sometimes make a standard obsolete. Standards Organizations take into account these factors and the general rule is that all standards should be reviewed at intervals of not more than five years.

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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 24
A Response to Dominica's 2002 Budget
A Partisan Police Department
Standards and Its Development
Letters to the Editor
CSM Ralph Alcendor On the Frontlines in Afghanistan

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