Page 2: Why are standards needed?
At a personal level we can see why standards are important. They provide a guarantee of safety, predictability and usability. We do not have to worry whether our electrical wiring is safe or that a piece of paper will fit into an envelope and we can play any CD in any machine.
Standards provide a safety net for many areas including clothing, food, furniture, transport and air quality. They remove anxiety for consumers by assuring the fitness for purpose of items we buy and use, as well as creating confidence in the businesses we are buying from.
BSI's 'Kitemark' is a quality assurance mark appearing on a wide variety of traditional and new goods. It is a form of guarantee that a product is made to a quality standard. It can be found on a range of well known products tested by BSI to make sure they meet the relevant standards e.g. crash helmets, refrigerators, electrical plugs, Christmas tree lights.
As consumers we want standards because they:
- inform us about the reliability and fitness for purpose of the goods and services we buy and use
- enable us to use more things more widely giving us greater choice
- bring peace of mind.
Manufacturers and retailers welcome standards, because they:
- provide clear guidelines on targets that reflect best practice
- protect manufacturers against poorer rivals who might otherwise damage an industry's reputation
- provide an excellent selling point
- provide a benchmark that can be used for communicating the specification and characteristics of the product, process or system, and from which improvement/innovation can be easily explained
- provide competitive advantage by making it easier, cheaper and more efficient to produce and sell things in the UK and internationally.
Today there is a range of internationally developed standards: European Standards (ENs) created for operations within the European Union and International Standards (ISOs) which can be used worldwide.