Machinery Industry on the Metal Gears on Black Background.

International woodworking machinery safety standards

WMIA is the administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which provides U.S. input into woodworking machinery safety standards being proposed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

About ANSI: ANSI is a private, non-profit federation of standards developing organizations and standard users. The mission of ANSI is “to enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity’ (ansi.org).” ANSI is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An important role of ANSI as the U.S. member body to ISO is accrediting U.S. Technical Advisory Groups (U.S. TAGs). The primary purpose of these TAGs is to develop and transmit, via ANSI, U.S. positions on activities and ballots of the International Technical Committee.

About ISO: The foremost aim of international standardization is to facilitate the exchange of goods and services through the elimination of technical barriers to trade. ISO is a legal association, the members of which are the National Standards Bodies (ANSI is the U.S. member body.)

The principal deliverable of ISO is the International Standard.

An international standard embodies the essential principles of global openness and transparency, consensus and technical coherence. These are safeguarded through its development in an ISO Technical Committee (ISO/TC), representative of all interested parties, and supported by a public comment phase (the ISO Technical Enquiry).

About TC 39/SC 4: This ISO Subcommittee (SC) is responsible for the ISO 19085 series of International Standards which provides technical safety requirements for the design and construction of woodworking machinery (TC is the ISO abbreviation for Technical Committee). It concerns designers, manufacturers, suppliers and importers of the machines specified in the Scope of each standard. The work of preparing international standards is normally initiated and overseen by ISO Technical Committees. Each member body of ISO (e.g., ANSI) interested in a subject for which a Technical Committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. ANSI has delegated this role for woodworking machinery to the US/TAG, which is recognized as the mirror committee to TC 39/SC 4 by National Member Bodies of ISO.

About Standards Development: ISO defines standardization as – “The activity of establishing, with regard to actual or potential problems, provisions for common and repeated use, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.” Before work begins on a standard, it must first be determined that there is a need for the standard in the marketplace. Once the idea for the standard is approved, the project begins with looking to national or regional standards of participating countries as much of the work on drafting a standard will be through harmonization of these national and regional standards to achieve an international standard with muli-country support. In the case of woodworking machinery standards, the TC established working groups (WG) to build consensus while reviewing and commenting on technical documents. All technical comments submitted by subject matter experts will be considered by members of the working group as the drafts advance through the standards development process from New Work Item Proposal on through to publication as an International Standard.

Why are International Standards important to the Industry? The ISO standards being developed by TC 39/SC 4 are voluntary standards addressing safety concerns from a technical standpoint. The goal of such standards is to provide state-of-the-art practical solutions fulfilling safety requirements, thereby creating safer working conditions for employees operating the machinery. Working to improve safety in the industry is the intention of these standards. Through input from stakeholders throughout the world, the end product should be as near to universal as possible. Better safety⇒reduced risk of employee injury⇒happier, more productive employees⇒increased efficiency⇒all around positive effect. Looking to the future of the industry, standards will continue to play an ever-increasing role in the machine engineering process.

Further reading – The Value of Well-Developed Industry Standards in Products Liability Legislation

WMIA’s role: As the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG Administrator to ISO/TC 39/SC 4, WMIA is the point of contact with ANSI for the TAG and must perform the following duties; maintenance of TAG roster, distribution of all relevant ISO documents to the TAG, arrangement of meetings of the TAG, coordination of TAG votes, ensure compliance with applicable ANSI and ISO procedures.

Why we are involved: WMIA’s mission is to be the voice of the woodworking machinery industry. Supporting the U.S. viewpoint on international standards for the industry is paramount to our members. While participation in the standards developing process is open to all stakeholders (meaning non-members can join the TAG or serve as an SME), WMIA sees it as imperative to serve in this role on behalf of the industry.

How you can become involved: If you are interested in volunteering your time to serve as a subject matter expert for a particular standard, please email jlinder@wmia.org.

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