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ISO Consumer update

No. 04 - October 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.

You are receiving this eNewsletter because you are involved in the activities of ISO/COPOLCO.

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What's happening …

41st World Standards Day – making the world accessible for all

Poster showing four stylized people in a room around a table on which is a colourful bookWith at least 650 million people globally affected by some kind of disability and the  rising numbers of older people in the world's population – one quarter of all citizens are 60 or older – the issue of accessibility to products and services has become more important than ever.

A message for World Standards Day has been signed by the leaders of the three principal international standardization organizations: Mr. Jacques Régis, President of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Dr. Alan Morrison, President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 

For more, follow this link

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October to pay tribute to the efforts of thousands of experts worldwide who collaborate within IEC, ISO and ITU to develop voluntary International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances.


ISO, IEC and ITU to hold international workshop on accessibility

A woman on a wheelchairDifficulty trying to access products, services, environments and facilities is an issue for any of us – let alone the millions of people around the world living with disabilities. To this end, an international workshop will be held on 3 and 4 November 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland, to review and examine the standards needed for facilitating the development of accessible solutions around the world. The workshop will be followed by a meeting especially organized for standards developers (but also open to other stakeholders) on 5 November 2010.

The workshop is the latest initiative organized by the three partner organizations of the World Standards Cooperation (WSC): IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ITU (International Telecommunication Union), and ISO.

For more, follow this link.

ISO's magazine highlights standards on accessibility

According to the United Nations, 10 % of the world's population – 650 million people – is affected by some kind of disability. In addition, one quarter of all citizens in developed countries are 60 or older and, by 2050, most developing countries will have caught up. In view of the enormous impact on the social and economic situation in countries around the world, the September issue of ISO Focus+, the magazine of ISO has devoted its Special Report to accessibility.

For more, follow this link.

NOTE: ISO Focus + is devoting its October issue to consumers.


ISO launches platforms on social media

ISO is now active in social media. Twitter, an online platform, is ideal for broadcasting short one-line messages to a wide audience. Facebook allows its members to exchange views, news, photos, and more in dedicated pages. Join ISO on Twitter:, and Facebook:

You can use Twitter to broadcast brief and important news to the ISO community. Send your stories to the ISO communications team on News (tweets) will be shortened to a maximum of 140 characters (one sentence), so be brief. Links or photos for extra information are also welcome.
You can also post your comments in our Facebook page.
We look forward to seeing you online!


What's new in International Standards

ISO's social responsibility standard approved for publication

ISO 26000, Guidance on social responsibility which gives organizations guidance on implementing social responsibility (SR), has successfully passed the last development phase and been approved for publication as an ISO International Standard. ISO targets publication for 1 November.

Paying tribute to the "exemplary efforts" of the experts who developed the standard, ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele commented: "ISO 26000 will help organizations for whom operating in a socially responsible manner is more than just a nice idea to implement social responsibility in a pragmatic way that targets performance. It will be a powerful tool to help organizations move from good intentions about SR to good actions."

ISO 26000 will provide harmonized, globally relevant guidance for private and public sector organizations of all types. The standard is the result of international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups with an interest in the subject and is designed to encourage the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide. The document distils global agreement on:

  • Definitions and principles of SR
  • The core issues to be addressed in implementing SR
  • Guidance on how to integrate SR throughout the operations of an organization.

For more, follow this link.


ISO standard set to reduce environmental impact of buildings

A new standard, ISO 21931-1:2010, Sustainability in building construction – Framework for methods of assessment of the environmental performance of construction works – Part 1: Buildings is aimed at improving the environmental performance of buildings by providing an internationally agreed framework for methods used in assessing their environmental stewardship.

Over their life cycle, buildings absorb considerable resources and contribute to the transformation of the environment. As a result, they can have considerable consequences and impacts on the environment. In order to measure and understand this impact, methods of assessment are used to determine the environmental performance of buildings.

For more, follow this link.


New ISO standard for safer water supports UN Millennium goal

A new ISO standard to help laboratories consistently detect potentially pathogenic salmonella bacteria in water supports the intent of a recent United Nations resolution on safe drinking water as well as one of the UN Millennium Development Goals on the same subject.

ISO 19250:2010, Water quality – Detection of Salmonella spp, specifies a method for the detection of presumptive or confirmed salmonella bacteria in water samples and is applicable to both water intended for drinking water purposes and also recreational waters. Salmonella bacteria are widely occurring all over the world. Their pathogenesis varies depending on the species and susceptibility of the host. 

For more, follow this link.


New ISO methodology demystifies nanomaterials

From new medical applications, to the latest gadgets and consumer products, innovative nanotechnology is pushing the boundaries of what we believed possible. But for this technology to develop further, faster and better we need a clear understanding and a logical classification of nanomaterials.  

ISO has therefore published a new technical report, ISO/TR 11360:2010, Nanotechnologies – Methodology for the classification and categorization of nanomaterials, offering a comprehensive, globally harmonized methodology for classifying nanomaterials.

For more, follow this link.


No road blocks with ISO standard for dashboard symbols

From alerting drivers to tyre inflation problems and engine failure, or when to add fuel to the tank, the universal language of information symbols used in cars is contained in a new International Standard.

ISO 2575:2010, Road vehicles – Symbols for controls, indicators and tell-tales, communicates information to drivers through a collection of symbols designed for use in passenger cars, light trucks, heavy commercial trucks and buses, regardless of their make and model.

For more, follow this link.


Around the world … COPOLCO member news


Timber framing code

Standards Australia has released a revised edition of the popular Australian Standard for Residential Timber Framed Construction, AS 1684, updating Parts 2, 3, and 4 in line with new research findings and current industry practice. AS 1684 is the backbone of Australia’s home building industry, ensuring homes are designed and constructed taking into account likely wind conditions and other loadings to which houses may be subjected through their expected life spans.

Organic and biodynamic products

The voluntary Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products, AS 6000-2009, sets out minimum requirements to be met by growers and manufacturers operating in the organic and biodynamic industry, and it is slowly changing the landscape of Australia’s domestic organic industry. Growers, manufacturers and consumers now have strict requirements defining what is, and is not, "organic".

The need for a national standard for the Australian organic industry had been present for a number of years. The concern stemmed from unscrupulous entrepreneurs labelling their domestic-bound products as "organic" or "free range".  Australian consumers were looking to buy organic products which they could ensure were really "organic".

Prior to the introduction of the new Australian Standard, it was difficult for consumers, or for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the national consumer protection authority), to challenge the validity of organic claims. The new standard brings strict requirements into play for the domestic organic market. However, observance is voluntary, not compulsory, in contrast to a large number of overseas markets.

Electric vehicles

Standards Australia is continuing its leadership role in the electric vehicles space with the formation of an electric vehicle reference group comprising stakeholders from across relevant industries. This strategic stakeholder group will be responsible for identifying standards development priorities and work tasks to support the introduction of the electric vehicle infrastructure in Australia. The group met for the first time in June to begin discussions on priorities and task plans for the 18 topic areas under consideration.

New Australian standard for olive oil

Work has started on a new Australian Standard for the olive oil industry, so that consumers can be confident that when they buy top quality olive oil, that is what they will get. Standards Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Olive Association, is working with relevant stakeholders including retailers, consumer associations, government bodies and growers to develop the Australian Standard that will provide assurance of quality for consumers and a level playing field for growers.

See these and other recently-published standards from SAI Global at



AFNOR publishes a standard on accessibility in the workplace

Accessibility in the workplace for persons with disabilities has become a major concern for many social and economic actors. "Disability-friendly" workplaces have sprung up in response. On the other hand, what defines "good practice"? The new standard, NF X 50-783, Disability-friendly workplaces – Requirements and recommendations for taking disabilities into account in the workplaceasks the right questions and offers solutions.

Introduced in 2009, this standard was developed under AFNOR's auspices, with participation of concerned stakeholders: disabled persons' groups, public and private companies, government authorities, universities and high schools, training centers and labour unions.

The objective of this standard is to identify good practices in the workplace which are applicable to any organization regardless of its size or type of activity; whether it is public or private. The standard sets out minimum requirements for the organization to be recognized as "disability-friendly".

The standard helps the organization ask questions adapted to the disability and thereby facilitate the disabled person's integration into the workplace. It also makes recommendations on how to apply requirements, and provides additional guidance to organizations interested in finding out more.

Other elements addressed in the standard include: accessibility to information and to premises, raising awareness of employees and managers, organizing the workstation, recruitment, training, integration of the disabled person, and career planning.  

AFNOR is now considering new projects for disability-friendly organizations, notably:

  • Drafting of sector-based guides  (e.g. for training centers)
  • Introduction of the standard into the European system
  • Developing a "disability-friendly" label to aid recognition.

AFNOR Standardisation is part of the AFNOR Group. AFNOR Standardisation is a public interest organization that acts as key operator of the French standardization system. It draws up the reference documents in response to stakeholder demand, to promote economic and strategic development.  See



BSI holds a workshop on standards and higher education

Standards – Who needs them? Focus on Higher Education was the focus of a workshop taking place at Imperial College, London, on 27 July, under the auspices of the BSI Consumer & Public Interest Network (CPIN). The workshop chair, Lynn Faulds Wood, was formerly the presenter of the popular BBC consumer rights TV Programme, "Watchdog". 
She opened the workshop with various photos and video clips to demonstrate serious consumer problems, such as exploding ovens and hot surfaces causing serious burns to children, all of which have been tackled in some way by standards.

After some lively presentations, the participants debated issues such as how to be a better consumer, introduction of education about standards into curricula, application of standards to improve educational programmes, and whether standards education should involve technical aspects, or processes only.

The participants concluded that standards education could contribute to a consumer’s ability to make more informed choices, and to be aware of influences or pressures such as advertising as well as relevant ethical and environmental issues. They felt that standards education should be introduced at various stages, starting with basic awareness.They cited as an example the very successful "Young Environmental Warriors" scheme in primary schools.

Finally, participants concluded that standards education made the most impact for voluntary standards rather than mandatory standards. For voluntary standards, educated consumers could choose products or services which provide greater assurance of satisfaction: for example, approved motor servicing standards. In contrast, for mandatory standards, consumers did not need to know the detail as they assumed standards were applied. One example of this was safety standards applicable to motor cars.  



Work advances on streamlining of the legal and standardization frameworks for toy safety

Following the “summer of recalls”  which exposed problems with toy safety caused by global supply chains, ANEC commissioned a research project in October 2008 aimed at comparing the requirements of toy legislation in certain markets with the provisions of the ISO/IEC, ASTM and CEN/CENELEC standards for toys. In November 2008, ANEC learned that a similar study was being conducted by the International Council of Toys Industries (ICTI). In order to avoid duplication of effort, ANEC and ICTI agreed that ANEC would carry out a “peer-review” of the ICTI study to identify gaps and make proposals for improvement as needed.

The ANEC study highlights that there are sufficient similarities among the standards – especially in requirements for mechanical and physical properties – for first steps towards a closer convergence to be possible. However, the report notes that the difficulties in achieving closer convergence beyond these first steps must not be underestimated. The convergence of the standards is dependent upon greater coherence of the legislation which governs the production and sale of toys.  ANEC notes that not all countries accept the "precautionary principle" as a key element of their legislation, and sees deep-seated differences in the application and scope of chemicals legislation. However, in making the report of the study publicly available, ANEC (in association with ICTI) intends to provide a useful resource on the opportunities and challenges presented.

For more, follow this link.


Finding the way out – ANEC publishes study of visual accessibility of signs and signage for people with low vision

The layout of our built environment has become more complex, with the increasing use of signs and signage in and around public areas and buildings. As a result, a growing number of elderly people with low vision have difficulties finding their way. Enabling safe and independent mobility for people with low vision has become a basic need, especially as demographic trends worldwide show that the number of people with age-related low vision is rising. 

A new ANEC study shows that the size of pictograms, symbols, icons and text used in public places should be at least 5% of the Critical Reading Distance (CRD) in order to be readable by the majority of consumers, including people with visual impairments.1 Optimal – but not maximal - contrast intensity should be approximately a value of 75% on the white-black axis.

The study also underlines the challenges posed by ensuring the localization and recognition of signs, both essential for independent travelling and mobility. However, while recognition is acceptable from 5% CRD on, and hardly increases beyond that threshold, localization still improves up to 9% CRD. Examples of good practice are given in the study. The results could constitute the starting point for guidelines. These guidelines could in time result in a standard on the legibility of signs and signage in public buildings or for public procurement.

For more, follow this link.

ANEC in brief
ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardization, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardization and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies. ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organizations from 31 countries. ANEC is funded by the European Union and EFTA, with national consumer organiations contributing in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels. Also see:

1) Carried out by the University of Ghent (Belgium) (ANEC-R&T-2010-DFA-001)

Did you know …?

In the EU, Eurostat projections highlight that the share of the population over 80 will increase from 4.1% in 2005 to 6.3% in 2025 and then 11.4% in 2050.

Source: ANEC-DFA-2010-G-049


To find out more...

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

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For a full list of ISO members, see

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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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