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ISO Consumer update

No. 11 - July 2012

….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 …

ISO/COPOLCO tackles consumer detriments of counterfeiting

The 34th COPOLCO plenary meeting and related events took place in Nadi, Fiji on 16-17 May 2012, supported by the Department of National Trade Measurement and Standards (DNTMS), Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Consumer Council of Fiji. 

The Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, gave a keynote address at the plenary meeting.

See more.

An international workshop, How do consumers know what they are getting?, took place on 15 May. The workshop, attended by some 130 participants, addressed market surveillance as a tool to combat counterfeit goods and ensure the integrity of legal metrology. The Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and the Chair of COPOLCO, Ms. Norma McCormick,  delivered keynote speeches.

COPOLCO will consider international market surveillance documents and initiatives, and make final recommendations at its meeting in 2013.

See more.


ISO/IEC Child safety guide revision now under way

ISO and IEC are jointly undertaking the revision of ISO/IEC Guide 50, Safety aspects – Guidelines for child safety. This Guide is intended for experts writing all types of standards which need to take aspects of child safety into account.

The new Convenor for the joint ISO/IEC Guide 50 revision working group is Dr. Mike Hayes, a senior member of the UK Child Accident Prevention Group. He has significant past experience of developing standards in the area of child safety, including the first edition of ISO/IEC Guide 50 as well as relevant European guidance.  

The first meeting will take place in Geneva on 12-13 September 2012 at the ISO Central Secretariat. For more information, contact


Improved ISO Online Website – simpler, faster, better

"Simpler, faster and better” access to information on ISO standards is the aim of the new edition of ISO's Website, which has been fully revised with customer focus and readability in mind. The new Website puts users first. The layout and content have been specifically designed to help visitors find information quickly and easily, in any device.

ISO Online is now easier to navigate and far more adaptable to a variety of platforms (“one-Web” approach). Its fluid and responsive layout flexibly adapts to different resolutions, browsers and screen sizes, so that no matter how users access the site (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.), they can read it comfortably and easily.

See more.



What's new in International Standards

Network services billing standard now published

The publication of an international standard on network services billing in July 2012 is a  breakthrough for consumers and a good example of how standards can improve consumer protection outcomes. The project was originally proposed by the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).

ISO 14452, Network services billing - Requirements, contains provisions for improving the transparency and level of service for consumers on billing for all types of utility services: water, electricity, heating, or telecommunications. It provides guidance on such aspects as presentation of information, service provision, dealing with vulnerable consumers and systems for redress.

Consumers International was represented on ISO/PC 239,  the project committee which worked on the standard, and contributed very actively to the development of ISO 14452.

ISO 14452 is the first of several consumer-oriented standards due shortly for publication; international standards on product recall and consumer product safety (also originally proposed by COPOLCO), will likely be published by end 2012.

See more.


Evaluating the impact of nanotechnologies

ISO has published a Technical report ISO/TR 13014:2012, Nanotechnologies – Guidance on physicochemical characterization of engineered nanoscale materials for toxicologic assessment, which will assist health scientists and other experts to understand, plan, identify, and address relevant physicochemical characteristics of nano-objects before conducting toxicological tests on them.

Nanotechnologies will contribute to better medical diagnosis and treatment; more efficient energy sources; lighter, stronger and cheaper materials, faster and more powerful electronic products, and cleaner, cheaper water. At the same time, the effects of specific nanomaterials, particularly nanoparticles, on human health and the environment require further study and ISO's work in the field includes the development of standards on these aspects.

See more.


Better environmental and human health with clean cookstoves

With open fires and traditional cookstoves causing millions of injuries and deaths annually, a new document from ISO represents a major first step towards defining criteria for clean, efficient and safe cookstoves. The ISO International Workshop Agreement IWA 11:2012, Guidelines for evaluating cookstove performance, is the first document of its type backed by international consensus.

According to the World Health Organization, exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires causes two million premature deaths annually, with women and young children among the most affected. In addition, open fires and traditional cookstoves increase pressures on local environmental resources (e.g., forests, habitats) and contribute to climate change at the regional and global levels.

IWA 11 represents a critical first step towards a common understanding of how to define and verify clean stoves and fuels among all affected countries and stakeholders, and to encourage innovation to find even better cooking solutions.

See more.


TWSIs make road surfaces more accessible

How can the same information be conveyed to the blind or the vision-impaired and how to ensure that the design and installation are identical from one country to the next?

To respond to these issues, ISO has developed a standard giving specifications for tactile walking surface indicators (TWSIs) and recommendations for their installation. Now, for the first time, a common approach for TWSIs is available at the international level.

ISO 23599:2012, Assistive products for blind and vision-impaired persons – Tactile walking surface indicators, aims to improve understanding and proper application of TWSIs designed to enable the blind or vision-impaired persons to travel safely and independently.

See more.


What's happening in sustainable events management

ISO has just published a new standard to support the organizers of events of all types – sporting, business, cultural, political – in integrating sustainability with their activities.

ISO 20121:2012, Event sustainability management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, is suitable for ensuring that events, ranging from local celebrations to "mega events" such as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, leave behind a positive legacy. The standard is relevant to all members of the event industry supply chain including organizers, event managers, stand builders, caterers and logistics suppliers.

See more


Saving face with clean cosmetics

ISO has published an international standard to help evaluate the antimicrobial protection of cosmetics, helping to ensure that consumer products such as creams, shampoo and make-up that we use daily are safe.

The new standard, ISO 11930:2012, Cosmetics – Microbiology – Evaluation of the antimicrobial protection of a cosmetic product, will help evaluate the effectiveness of the manufacturing method, chemical composition, packaging and other factors. 

See more.


ISO cooperates with AOAC

ISO and AOAC INTERNATIONAL have signed a cooperation agreement on international standards related to the trade of infant formula and adult nutritionals for the benefit of all stakeholders, including consumers.

AOAC INTERNATIONAL is a non-profit scientific association that serves the communities of analytical sciences by providing the tools and processes necessary for community stakeholders to collaborate and develop fit-for-purpose methods and services for ensuring quality measurements.

Under the new agreement, ISO and AOAC can participate in each other’s work to jointly develop and approve standards. Initial priorities will focus on cooperation in the areas of infant formula and adult nutritionals and related milk and milk products.

See more.



Around the world … COPOLCO member news


Consumer representatives hold workshop during CSA Group’s Annual Conference

The 2012 Consumer Workshop held in Quebec City on 10 June brought together 35 consumer representatives from across Canada to learn about consumer issues in standardization, with a focus on social media and its role in consumer representation and advocacy. The workshop also featured guest speakers representing standards bodies, government and consumer organizations, including Norma McCormick, Chair of ISO’s Committee on consumer policy  (ISO/COPOLCO) and Jay Jackson of Industry Canada.

The consumer representatives also participated in CSA Group’s Annual Conference on 10-12 June with the theme, Creating a safer, healthier world – it's a matter of standards. Sessions covered a wide range of consumer oriented subjects. These included  the impact of demographic trends worldwide, product safety, health care, mental health in the workplace, whistle blowing, consumer trust, and counterfeit products. CSA’s 2012 Annual Conference and Committee Week attracted over 600 standards experts.

For more information about CSA, contact or visit CSA's Website.

New standards improve electrical practices

For decades, CSA's Canadian Electrical Code (CEC), Part 1 has provided Canada's signature standards for the installation and maintenance of electrical equipment in Canada. The 22nd edition, published in early 2012, contains more than 180 updates and revisions – the most comprehensive set of changes ever – including unique installation requirements for renewable energy systems, new and enhanced rules for electric vehicle charging equipment, and several measures for improving safety for children.

Healthier hospitals with better practices for patients

In November 2011, CSA launched Z8000, the first comprehensive national standard in Canada to address the complex nature of planning, designing and constructing health care facilities. The standard is a prescription for improving workflows, reducing the spread of infection, planning for pandemics and large-scale emergencies, moving and caring for obese patients, improving security surrounding newborns and providing better care for the elderly and patients with dementia.



Extensive study of hire purchase industry reveals consumers' vulnerability

With $280,000 of funding support from AusAID, the Consumer Council of Fiji has established a project to improve the credit competency of vulnerable groups in Fiji. One of its major projects for this year was to commission a study of the hire purchase (HP) industry. The study has resulted in two reports which were launched at an inaugural workshop in Suva on 19 July  2012, at which the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum gave an opening address.

There is an imbalance in the knowledge and bargaining powers between consumers and credit providers which is leaving the poor vulnerable to unfair hire purchase deals. Not everyone can pay cash, so consumers enter into credit deals and buy goods through hire purchase. Examples include furniture, electrical appliances, gadgets, cars and even purchasing a house. However, the studies have found that, in practice, HP consumers are not well-protected.

The two reports, Hire Purchase Industry in Fiji and Review of Consumer Credit Act 1999: from Consumers Perspective” analyze practices in the HP market, the Consumer Credit Act 1999 and consumer complaints.   This is the first in-depth investigation into the impact of hire purchase (HP) on consumers.

The reports examine the plight of consumers and the rights available under the Consumer Credit Act. The reports also focus on the existing systemic problems and unethical practices faced by consumers, as well as their comments about the HP industry.

To download the reports and for more information, see the Website of the Consumer Council of Fiji.



TISI raises standards awareness among village health volunteers

TISI has run a project to raise awareness of standards for local administrative officers since 2006. However, in 2012, the Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) started new programme, the “Project on local network enhancing quality of life and protecting consumer rights”.

This programme provides knowledge of standards directly to local people by the people in their own villages and communities, called "village health volunteers". The programme comprises the establishment and delivery of training programmes for village health volunteers. The contents include such aspects as general knowledge of product standards, benefit of standard marks in daily life, standards and safety in using industrial products.

The village health volunteer has long been a model of community participation in taking care of individual, family and community health, through the training courses provided by public health officers; the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand has been carrying out this approach since 1977. The number of village health volunteers has been increasing continuously and has been expanding to villages and communities nationwide.

The programme will help village health volunteers obtain more knowledge and understanding of standardization, which will enable them to protect themselves and their families, including their rights when consuming certified goods. In addition, the networks will disseminate information directly to the public. 300 village health volunteers will be trained in the first year of implementation (2012).  Evaluation both in terms of quantity and quality will also take place.



Good ideas online

Over the past decade, members of the BSI Consumer & Public Interest Network have suggested a total of 240 ideas for standards in the consumer interest. A recent review of these has found that almost half have been taken up in existing or ongoing standardization work, such as:

  • standardizing the colour and shape of beach flags used in different countries to inform swimmers when it is safe to swim: BS ISO 20712-2:2007 Water safety signs and beach safety flags. Specifications for beach safety flags. This standard contains provisions on such aspects as colour, shape, meaning and performance.
  • consideration of ‘vulnerable’ people in the management of debt collection. Local authorities are referencing British Standard BS 18477 Inclusive service provision, in their debt collecting codes.

See more about the standard and a brief introduction.

A further 11 ideas are being developed for feeding into the BSI online collection point for good standards ideas. Note: the online collection point also accepts proposals from outside the United Kingdom.


Did you know …?

According to the World Health Organization, exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires causes two million premature deaths annually, with women and young children among the most affected.


To find out more...

Visit us in the consumer section of ISO's Web site, ISO Online, 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

Is your organization a member of Consumers International? Find CI at

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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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