Introduction: ISO standards are developed according to the principles of industry-wide, voluntary consensus. The views of all interested parties are considered, including manufacturers, distributors, end-users, testing laboratories, governments, and engineering professionals. International standardization is market-driven and therefore based on voluntary involvement of all materially interested parties. Many manufacturers source components in one country, build products in another and then distribute their products in many others. These products must meet the requirements of multiple countries, and, specifically, multiple safety standards. The objective of those involved in the standards development process, therefore, is to harmonize existing national standards (if exist) through consensus building among experts in the industry.
The US participates in ISO activities through ANSI-accredited Technical Advisory Groups (TAG). A TAG is a group of leading professionals in a particular field (in this case, woodworking machinery.) TAGs are actively involved in the international standards developing process. Their primary purpose is to select subject matter experts (SMEs) to develop the U.S. position on draft standards as well as to vote on all issues brought before the technical subcommittee by ISO. The SMEs report to the TAG ahead of ISO ballot due dates with a recommendation on whether or not, in their opinion, the draft should proceed to the next stage in the development process.
Participation in a TAG is an opportunity for various U.S. stakeholders to help shape international standards that will influence how they do business globally. Participants goal is to review and address technical safety requirements of woodworking machines and ensure that the solutions are both at the highest level of safety possible, while also keeping in mind the technical practicality of the solutions.
All TAG members are expected to actively participate in the work of the TAG by attending meetings and/or teleconferences and by voting on draft standards. Some TAG members may also be asked to attend international meetings as U.S. delegates.
TAGs are accredited by ANSI and must follow ANSI procedures, including the Model Operating Procedures for U.S. Technical Advisory Groups to ANSI for ISO Activities.
Subject matter experts are the workhorses of standards development. Reviewing draft documents and providing technical comments early in the process is essential to influencing the technical requirements of the standard. One thing to keep in mind as a subject matter expert is the length of an international standard project from initiation to completion. The average track is 36-months, with the work occurring year round. While the time commitment in and of itself is not an issue for most, the span of time can be.
To give a clear understanding of what will be asked of subject matter experts, please see the flow chart below –
For a further information on ISO working groups, please see ISO’s Directives, Part 1, Subclause 1.12.
Thank you for taking the time to peruse this webpage and for considering serving the woodworking machinery industry in this capacity. Please email Olivia Mueting, TAG Secretary, with any questions you may have.