What are the British Standards?
The British Standards Institute (BSI) is appointed by the UK Government as the national standards body for the UK.
BSI holds the Royal Charter and represents UK interests at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Standards Organizations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI).
Formed in 1901, BSI was the world’s first national standards body.
The role of the UK National Standards Body is to help improve the quality and safety of products, services and systems by enabling the creation of standards for UK industry to aspire to and encourage their use.
The BSI represent UK economic and social interests across all the different European and international standards organizations and develops business information solutions for British organizations of all sizes and sectors.
BSI publish over 3,100 standards each year supported and backed by industry experts, government bodies, trade associations, businesses of all sizes and consumers.
This helps develop standards that protect consumers, reflect good business practice, and promotes international trade through trusted brands and products.
Why have standards?
Having recognised standards help to make everyday lives easier, safer and healthier.
Whether that is a recognised standard for the way a certain product is manufactured, a working procedure standard, or a certain standard for materials in a supply chain, having recognised standards can help make organizations more successful by driving innovation and increasing productivity.
Having relevant standards for a particular product helps to demonstrate to customers that products or services follow best practice, and that safety has been considered, durability has been considered, and the supply chain is ethical.
Relevant standards provide manufacturers and others in the supply chain with a way to show conformity with directives and regulations.
What to look out for?
Most businesses and suppliers will want their customers to know that they have followed the best practice and that their product meets a certain standard.
Many organizations will make this clear. For example, it may be on their packaging, marketing materials, or on the product itself.
Many products carry the CE marking – this means that the product complies with European Directives and Regulations.
If a product complies with a standard does that make it completely safe?
Sarra Cheyne, Manager of standards committee CW/1 Safety of child use and child care products says the following.
“It can’t be guaranteed that a product is 100% safe as it is simply not possible to eliminate all risk factors. However, products that have been produced by following and/or tested against relevant standards are aiming for a specific level of safety that has been agreed with our experts.”
“For example, there are standards which specify recommended levels and types of chemicals that can be used to make certain products.”
“It is really important that consumers take the time to read and follow instructions and warnings that come with products. If the instructions are lost you can ask the retailer to send you a new copy or look them up online.”
Does this mean that products which don’t carry the CE marking or mention any standards are dangerous?
“No, it doesn’t.”
“As I’ve mentioned, using a standard to make or distribute a product is voluntary and some manufacturers choose not to use them. We shouldn’t automatically make the assumption that a product is dangerous if it does not comply with a standard.”
“There are regulations that products need to comply with, such as the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, for example.”
“CE marking and references to standards add an extra level of confidence that the item complies with EU regulations, and has been produced and tested using agreed knowledge and best practice.”
Visit the BSI website to find out more about standards.