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Introducing engineering
Introducing engineering

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3.6 Developing standards

In the UK, standards are issued by the BSI (British Standards Institution). There are many other national and international standards organisations, such as ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials), DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung), ISO (International Organization for Standardization). These are not bodies that develop standards in isolation and impose them on a particular engineering community. The development of a standard is often driven by a group of people working in a certain area, who want to produce a blueprint for a particular method that can be used by themselves and by their colleagues. Standards are not set in stone once issued, but may be revised and updated. Supplements or new related standards may be produced if an existing standard is found to be insufficient to cover all aspects of a particular area, or if there is a change in practice in the field for which the standard is applicable.

In recent years there has even been a drive towards standardisation of the standards themselves. When different countries had different standards relating to the same product, with different criteria and different test methods, it placed a burden on manufacturers to indicate that their product complied with each individual standard if the product was sold in many countries. Many standards now have EN or ISO prefixes to indicate they have European or international applicability.

For example, in the next section we will look at a standard on eye protection. In the UK this standard existed formerly as BS 2092, but was revised in 1995 and renumbered as BS EN 166. The standard was further revised in 2002. Prior to this, there had been a plethora of standards within Europe covering this type of product.