Every manufacturing business must adhere to certain standards. In the US, this includes those set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and international standards such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Some standards, such as those from OSHA, are legally required. Some standards, such as those from ISO, are not mandated, but recommended.
ANSI is a Private Organization
There are three things manufacturing businesses should understand about ANSI and its standards:
- ANSI is a private organization
- Organizations follow their standards voluntarily
- Government agencies can codify ANSI standards
While ANSI leads the way in standards in the US, this private organization does not develop standards. It created requirements that standards development organizations use, and it accredits organizations that meet those requirements. Use of ANSI standards requirements remains voluntary.
The Standards Are Voluntary
The requirements for developing standards may be voluntary, but some organizations can require businesses to follow the resulting developed standard. While some of the organizations using them are businesses or industry organizations, other organizations using their recommendations are governmental in nature, including OSHA. While ANSI standards are voluntary, other governmental organizations sometimes reference them in their own guidelines. This means that by themselves they were not law, but once included in a rulemaking organizations’ regulation, such as the Administration, they become law. If the Administration references an ANSI standard and mandates compliance with it, all manufacturers must follow it.
Rulemaking Organizations Can Include ANSI Standards
If your business does not follow ANSI standards, it cannot be legally punished, unless a rulemaking or law-making body requires you to follow it. Here’s an example. OSHA based its signage rule for accident prevention, 1910.145, on ANSI standard Z35.1-1968. If your company did not follow the Administration’s rule, which would mean it followed the ANSI standard, it could be fined and/or prosecuted by the Administration. Similarly, international standards organizations also use ANSI recommendations to plan and popularize standards. In an era of global business, it makes sense to adhere to a single standard, so that materials created in each country meet the same quality.
While not required, ANSI standards have resulted in increased safety and efficiency, plus reduced risk. If your business involves manufacturing, ANSI standards can help you create a better manufacturing environment and a better product. Voluntarily following these standards just makes sense for your business.
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