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ISO Consumer update

No. 02 - March 2010

….An update of ISO's activities regarding standards and consumer protection, for the members and stakeholders of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).

ISO/COPOLCO is ISO's forum for promoting consumer interests in standardization. Its mission is to:

  • Enhance the market relevance of International Standards by promoting and facilitating the input of consumers' views into ISO's policies, procedures, standards and services
  • Help consumers around the world benefit from standardization.



Contents

 

What's happening …

New booklet turns ISO graphical symbols into child's play

ISO/COPOLCO's vision to raise public awareness about ISO graphical symbols and their role in ensuring public safety and public information has become a reality with the publication of a colourful, easy-to-read new booklet, The international language of ISO graphical symbols.

ISO graphical symbols help us every day. Find out how

The set of safety and public information symbols contained in the new booklet have been drawn primarily from ISO 7001, Graphical symbols – public information symbols, and ISO 7010, Graphical Symbols – Safety colours and safety signs – Registered safety signs.

These and other relevant standards are under the responsibility of ISO/TC 145, Graphical symbols, and appear in a handy list of references after the story line. This end section also mentions the ISO Concept Database (http://cdb.iso.org), a repository of standardized terms, graphical symbols and codes. A separate section explains the meanings behind the different shapes, colours and symbols used to convey safety messages.

The international language of ISO graphical symbols is intended to educate the public about the relevance of standardized graphical symbols and about ISO's work in this area. The booklet is not only a valuable public information tool, but also helpful to professionals directly concerned with public safety and services.

More generally, it vividly illustrates the broad scope of ISO's work on behalf of consumer protection and the public interest – both to a specialized audience and to the general public.

For more, follow this link.

 

ISO/COPOLCO focuses on financial services at its annual workshop

The recent financial crisis brought consumer protection issues in financial services to the forefront of public attention. More than ever, consumers question existing practices and are searching for solutions above and beyond "business as usual". This year's workshop, entitled Restoring consumer confidence in financial services – Can standards help?  will take place on 26 May 2010 at the invitation of the National Standardization Agency (BSN), prior to the ISO/COPOLCO plenary meeting in Bali, Indonesia on 27-28 May.

Participants at the workshop will consider whether international standards can help achieve consumer protection for aspects of financial services of high priority for consumers. Themes will include:

Access to financial services: Can standards help ensure consumer protection in new types of financial services made possible by technological change (such as mobile telephone payment systems), especially where there are gaps in legislation?

Financial literacy and informed choice: Should standards define minimum requirements for information on certain financial services, notably consumer loans and mortgages, enabling consumers to make informed choices?

Ethics in financial services: Can standards provide both financial institutions and consumers with some basic guidelines for ethical practice as a complement to legislation, with particular dispositions for the "vulnerable consumer; and are standards for "ethical investments" relevant?

For more, follow this link.

 

ISO/COPOLCO task group to address consumer product guarantees

A task group has now been set up to identify aspects of consumer product guarantees and warranties that could potentially benefit from standardization. Under the responsibility of the COPOLCO working group, "Consumer protection in the global marketplace", the task group will work by correspondence, and provide some preliminary conclusions for COPOLCO to discuss at its plenary meeting in May 2010.

Preliminary investigations by the Global Marketplace group, completed in 2009 and reported to COPOLCO, showed that many countries had legislation on guarantees, but that there were gaps that standardization could potentially address. The task group will conduct further analysis before recommending the nature, scope and likely content for any international standard or guidance.

For more information, contact copolco@iso.org.

 

ISO/COPOLCO investigates service issues for customer contact centers

The majority of the twenty-one COPOLCO members having already responded to a recently-circulated questionnaire on consumer issues with call centers (COPOLCO 02/2010), have confirmed that national legislation exists for call centers in many countries, but that consumers' experiences of these services have still often been negative (for example, inadequate resolution of problems, wrong answers, long waiting periods). Most members surveyed so far have expressed support for the development of some form of international guidance in this area.

The results will be discussed at the forthcoming COPOLCO plenary meeting in May.

A customer contact center, otherwise known as a "call center", has been defined as "a centralized office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone.  It may also deal collectively with letters, faxes, emails and other forms of text communication.  Its purpose is to administer incoming product support or information enquiries from consumers, and/or to generate outgoing communications for telemarketing, product support, debt collection, etc." 

With the aim to obtain a more representative sample, responses from COPOLCO members to copolco@iso.org are still strongly encouraged.

Access the survey here (password protected) and respond to copolco@iso.org.

 

 

What's new in International Standards

ISO and IEC help beef up information security management systems

ISO and IEC have added to their toolbox of information security standards, with guidance for the successful design and implementation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005.

ISO/IEC 27003:2010, Information technology – Security techniques – Information security management system implementation guidance, gives advice that will be useful for all types of security-conscious organizations, regardless of their size, complexity and risks.

For more, follow this link.

 

ISO and IEC standard to provide shared international language for energy efficiency and renewables

International dialogue on energy will be facilitated by a future International Standard harmonizing energy efficiency and renewable sources terminology. The standard will be developed by ISO and IEC, within the joint project committee, ISO/IEC JPC 2, Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources – Common terminology  

The International Standard will identify and define terms used in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. It will support the metrics, calculation and assessment methods, methodologies and best practice, needed by policy makers, industry, standards writers and many other stakeholders. 

For more, follow this link.

 

Work to proceed on a Final Draft International Standard for ISO 26000

The leadership of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO/WG SR) decided to proceed with development of ISO 26000, Guidance on social responsibility, into a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) following a positive vote, ending on 14 February.

This is the final stage in the development of an ISO standard before it is published as a fully-fledged ISO International Standard. However, in order to assess support from the 42 international liaison organizations participating in the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO/WG SR), its leadership reviewed the views and comments of these organizations before formally proceeding to FDIS.

For more, follow this link.

 

New ISO RFID standard will help trace products in the supply chain

For reasons of safety and reliability, the importance of being able to trace products throughout the supply chain has strongly increased in recent years. The new ISO 17367:2009 standard will help manufacturers and distributors to track products and to manage their traceability thanks to standardized RF tags.

ISO 17367:2009, Supply chain applications of RFID – Product tagging, defines the basic features of RFID for use in the supply chain when applied to product tagging.

 

Management system standards complaints mechanism

ISO’s Website, ISO Online now includes a link to the process for filing a complaint regarding incorrect or unethical use of management system standards (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, etc.).

The "Complaints" page is available here.

 

Around the world … COPOLCO member news

ARGENTINA

New application for ISO 9001

The ISO member for Argentina, IRAM, has developed a sector-specific guide for the application of ISO 9001:2008, Quality management systems – Requirements for consumer information offices of municipalities. The Guide is called Requirements for quality management. This new Guide is the result of a request from the government sector and the FAM (Federation of Argentinean Municipalities), who were looking to improve and strengthen the capabilities and performance of these offices.

This Guide follows ISO 9001:2008 and can be considered a first step towards applying ISO 9001 to an important sector with limited resources. The Guide was developed by IRAM in collaboration with consumer organizations, government authorities, ISO 9000 experts and the FAM.

 

AUSTRALIA

Access for persons with disabilities

Standards Australia has recently published two standards concerning access to persons with disabilities: AS 1428.1, Design for access and mobility – Part 1: General requirements for accessNew building work and AS 1428.4.1, Design for access and mobility – Part 4.1,Tactile indicators.

Bushfire bunkers

Bushfires in Victoria claimed a number of lives in February 2009.  The Australian Building Codes Board has begun work on a national standard for the design and construction of bushfire bunkers for personal use, and this is expected to be available in April 2010.

Electric cars

Standards Australia has presented a framework for the development of Australian Standards that would support the introduction of electric vehicles in Australia. Five inter-related work streams for standards development were highlighted: Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and aftermarket vehicle design; battery power systems; vehicle recharging; rescue, repair and recovery; and user information and greenhouse gas (GHG) assessment. From these areas, 17 separate work items were identified, with three priority items flagged for immediate development.

The scoping study also addressed the need to harmonize with relevant International Standards and guidelines, given the global nature of the electric vehicle market.

Prams and strollers

New requirements for prams and strollers have been set out in the latest edition of AS/NZS 2088:2009, Safety requirements. These requirements promote improved safety and protection against risks and hazards which may cause injury to children.

AS 2088 provides manufacturers, authorities and others with guidelines on the minimum safety requirements for materials, construction, performance and labelling of prams, strollers and their accessories. In this edition, particular attention is given to accessories and toddler seats which have become increasingly popular attachments on some prams and strollers.

 

BRAZIL

Challenges and perspectives of the national system of fair and ethical trade

Since the beginning, fair trade in Brazil has developed in tandem with the social movements that seek answers to the problems of social and employment inequality, offering a different economic model with alternative local markets, based on principles of justice and solidarity.

This objective is being realized through the collective development of a "Charter of Principles and Criteria for Fair and Ethical Trade" in Brazil. Since 2001, this effort has mobilized more than 200 national and international actors directly concerned by new production and consumption models and relationships, through eight public consultations and 29 pilot projects to test the concepts being created.

The result has been consolidated in the "National System of Fair and Solidarity Trade", a public policy bill for approval by the Brazilian government through a presidential decree under enactment. Successful promulgation will turn Brazil into a pioneer in the regulation of fair trade as an economic and social policy of a country. Moreover, it will reaffirm democratic processes for the development and management of public policies, by allowing broad participation of producers and consumers in its implementation, control and improvement.

See www.facesdobrasil.org.br for more information about this intensive collaborative effort between these social movements acting through a common platform, Faces do Brasil; and the National Secretariat for Solidarity Economy, of the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment.

 

CANADA

Consumer Product Safety Act gets under way

Work on new consumer product legislation, the Consumer Product Safety Act – Bill C6 is now under way again, after the Canadian Parliament was suspended in December 2009.

The proposed legislation was introduced by the Government of Canada on January 29, 2009 and is intended to replace Part 1 of the Hazardous Products Act.  It introduces a new legislative framework for consumer products in Canada. This new Act will modernize and strengthen product safety laws. Notably, the Act will introduce a general prohibition on products presenting an unreasonable danger, make it illegal to sell recalled products, require mandatory reporting of serious incidents by industry, and give inspectors authority to order recalls and other corrective measures for unsafe products.

 

COLOMBIA

Setting priorities for consumer protection

The ISO member for Colombia, ICONTEC, has identified some new standards for consumer protection which are considered to have a high impact on the consumer, based on their application and content:

  • NTC 1798, Household appliances – Domestic pressure cookers
  • NTC 1961, Household appliances – Aluminum kettles
  • NTC 4901, Urban mass passenger transportation vehicles; Part 1: Articulated buses; Part 3: Conventional buses
  • NTC 5693, Ergonomics manual handling; Part 1: Lifting and carrying; Part 2: Pushing and pulling; Part 3: Handling of low loads at high frequency
  • NTC 5723,  Ergonomics evaluation of static working postures
  • NTC 5992-2, Hearing protectors; Part 2: Estimation of effective A-weighted sound pressure levels when hearing protectors are worn.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC                                                                       

Czech Consumer Association establishes new model for consumer participation

Kabinet pro standardizaciEuropean policies and recommendations have placed priority on consumer involvement in standardization, but up to now this has not been appropriately ensured within the Czech Republic. In 2008-2009, the Czech Consumer Association implemented a new project funded by the Norwegian government (EEA Grants/Norway Grants). This project aimed to develop a model for improved participation by consumers in standardization, covering such areas as technical regulations, technical standardization, metrology, conformity assessment, accreditation and market surveillance.

In cooperation with a Norwegian partner, Standard Norge, the Cabinet for Standardization was registered as a public service organization in November 2009.

The model of the Consumer Cabinet for Standardization responds to experience both from home and abroad which suggests that, due to financial and other reasons, consumer organizations usually give priority to activities other than consistent efforts to participate in standardization.

The Statutes of the Cabinet have established the Steering Committee as an advisory body composed of liaisons to the Cabinet (consumer organizations, interested parties in standardization both from public and private areas); the Steering Committee will participate in setting the Cabinet's priorities.

The Website, www.top-normy.cz provides information on various aspects of consumer participation in standardization and ensures the exchange of information with partners. The project will also seek to involve consumers in the implementation of EU regulations regarding key fields of consumer interest, such as child safety and protection of vulnerable groups.

The Cabinet will aim to enhance the level of expertise and stabilize the attendance of consumer representatives and experts. All Czech consumer organizations were informed of the development of the model; some of them participated directly in its development. Public fundraising and outreach is ongoing.

In 2010, the Cabinet will work at strengthening cooperation among various groups of consumers and reinforcing cooperation with the National Standards body and other stakeholders. It will also aim to develop consumer interest involvement in ISO/COPOLCO and ANEC.

 

UNITED KINGDOM

TV watchdog appointed Chair of UK Consumer Committees

Lynn Faulds Wood is the new Chair of BSI’s Consumer & Public Interest Strategic Advisory Committee (CPISAC) and Network of CPI volunteers.

See: www.bsigroup.com/Consumers 

Lynn Faulds WoodMs. Wood presented the popular BBC consumer rights TV programme, Watchdog, for  nine years, helping to bring in many new laws (bunk beds, cookers), new British Standards (toasters, food processors, irons, condoms), multi-million Pound recalls (cars, cookers, pushchairs) and was also responsible for the redesign of many household products.

Since surviving a battle with bowel cancer in the early 1990s Ms. Wood has focused on helping to produce evidence-based improvements in survival from this common cancer. Examples of contributions include the world's first research-based symptoms guidance and formal training courses in colonoscopy. She has campaigned with the charity “Lynn’s Bowel Cancer Campaign”, and acted as chair and president of the European cancer patient coalition. 

Ms. Wood's passion for consumer rights and evidence-based research makes her the ideal candidate to tackle issues of public interest from the viewpoint of the general public, and to ensure that the consumer voice is heard in standards development.

Lynn Faulds Wood will also help BSI with preparations for hosting the annual meeting of ISO/COPOLCO in London in 2011.

 

UNITED STATES

Former Chair of ISO/COPOLCO heads up a new cleaning science information center

The Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI - www.CIRIscience.org) is a not-for-profit, international web-based resource and cleaning science information center for consumers, public officials, manufacturers, distributors, and industry. Dr. Steven Spivak, Chair of ISO/COPOLCO from 1991-1995, and also member of earlier ANSI/USA delegations to COPOLCO, serves as its science and research chair.

CIRI is an information resource on cleaning science, hygiene and cleanliness, disease prevention, and public health issues – all concerning aspects of maintenance, facilities care, and cleaning.

CIRI's research focus is on cleaning and health assessments in schools and youth, and measurements of interior cleanliness and maintenance. 

CIRI operates with a science advisory council of five renowned scientists, each with some expertise in cleaning science, health and hygiene, the environment, "cleaning green" and eco-friendly cleaning regimens, scientific measures of soiling, bio-contamination and cleaning efficacy. CIRI is headquartered in Albany, New York, USA but with an increasingly global interest and reach. 

 

Did you know …?

Each year, up to 40 persons die and 1'900 persons, often children, suffer injuries as a result of low-quality imported lighters that fail to meet safety requirements as set out in European and International Standards, according to the EU Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO).

Studies from around the world stress the importance of compliance with standards in ensuring consumer safety, yet tests by some independent European laboratories have recently demonstrated that a significant number of lighters available on the European market are not in compliance with standards such as ISO 9994, or EN 13869.

For more, see the ANEC Newsletter (March issue), available at www.anec.eu.

 

To find out more...

Visit us in the consumer section of ISO's Web site, ISO Online, www.iso.org. Consult: "Resources for ….. Consumers".

Is the ISO member in your country a member of COPOLCO? If not, encourage this national standards body to join COPOLCO!

For a full list of ISO members, see http://www.iso.org/iso/about/iso_members.htm.

Is your organization a member of Consumers International? Find CI at www.consumersinternational.org.

Questions? Comments? News to share? Subscription requests?
We would like to hear from you!  Contact us at copolco@iso.org.

 

ISO Consumer update is a free service by the Secretariat of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).
Editor: Ms. Dana Kissinger-Matray, Secretary of ISO/COPOLCO.

ISO Consumer update gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Marketing, Communication and Information services of the ISO Central Secretariat.

 
 

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