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ISO Consumer update

No. 14 - April 2013

….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.


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Contents

 

What's happening …

ISO/COPOLCO plans workshop on innovation and product safety in 2013

Consumer product safety has improved over the past forty years thanks to greater consumer awareness and engagement, standardization and better regulatory controls. Yet innovation has added a new dimension to product safety concerns with internet-based purchasing, new technologies, and global supply chains.

ISO/COPOLCO will consider how these factors impact product safety at its next annual workshop taking place on 21 May 2013, on Innovation and food products – How can standards ensure consumer protection? The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) will host the workshop, along with the COPOLCO plenary and other meetings, during the week of 20-24 May 2013 at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, near Valletta.

This workshop will deal with challenges and opportunities in product safety in general, with a focus on food safety. While the workshop caters to COPOLCO member representatives and stakeholders, it is open to the public and all are welcome. To find out more, please contact Ms Dana Kissinger-Matray, Secretary of COPOLCO, at copolco@iso.org.

 

New ISO 10377:2013 Consumer product safety – Guidelines for suppliers

As the recent problems with tainted food, drugs, toys and other consumer products have made clear, more needs to be done to protect consumers. This new standard provides universally applicable guidance and practical tools to identify, assess, eliminate or reduce potential safety risks before products enter the market.

The standard was created by ISO Project Committee 243, chaired by Dr Elizabeth Nielsen (SCC – Canada). ISO/PC 243 was established following an initiative from the working group of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) which aims to reduce risks related to consumer products.

Its use should result in fewer injuries and increased consumer confidence; provide a benchmark for accessing international markets, supplement existing regulations, offer a systems approach to enhancing product safety, level the playing field, educate suppliers, reduce costly product recalls, and more.

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New ISO 10393:2013 Consumer product recall – Guidelines for suppliers

Only a handful of countries have legislative or regulatory requirements that provide guidance for business on how to manage a recall, leading to an uneven and inconsistent approach to consumer product recall and gaps in consumer protection at the national and international levels.

This new standard provides guidance on how to establish, implement and manage a consumer product recall programme. It will help organizations plan and execute timely and cost-effective recall programmes; minimize legal risks, protect consumers from unsafe or dangerous products; and build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The standard was created by ISO Project Committee 240, chaired by Dr Eunsook Moon (KATS – Republic of Korea). ISO/PC 243 was established following an initiative from the working group of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) which aims to reduce risks related to consumer products.

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World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March

On 15 March 1962, President John F Kennedy gave an address to the US Congress in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so, and the consumer movement now marks 15 March every year as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights. Many countries have participated in consumer awareness activities with stakeholders across society.

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ISO/COPOLCO launches a services website

Consumers have often complained about the quality of services, and until recently, very few international standards existed for services. However, this is changing due to market demand from ISO's stakeholders, including ISO/COPOLCO. Over the past decade, ISO has risen to the challenge and has developed many new standards dealing with services, which now form the lion's share of the world's economy.

Find out more on the new "Standards in action – Services" section on ISO Online.

 

 

What's new in International Standards

YOU can influence the next edition of ISO 14001

Users of the ISO 14001 environmental management system (EMS) standard are encouraged to provide input until 30 April 2013, through an online survey to the experts developing the next edition of the standard, which is expected to be published in 2015.

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How green is green? ISO standards can help!

With the relentless focus on climate change and health, consumers are becoming more interested in less tangible product attributes such as the ethical and environmental aspects of a product’s production and supply. In response, manufacturers often voluntarily choose to provide information concerning the environmental aspects of their products on labelling and in advertising.

Smart businesses are making a virtue out of necessity by promoting the environmental features of their products. Gaining market benefit through environmental labelling makes sense, particularly where companies have invested in environmental improvement and putting environmental management systems in place.

The new brochure presents the ISO 14020 series in clear and simple language to help manufacturers and consumer associations decide whether the standards can help advance their converging objective of informing the consumer in an accurate and understandable way.

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ISO Focus+ magazine spotlights ISO standards for smart cities

Today, half of humanity lives in cities where waste, sewage and air pollution have become major problems. Discover how ISO standards provide support for better, healthier and safer city living in the January 2013 issue of ISO Focus+ magazine.

"The cities of tomorrow must be smart cities, utilizing scant resources to best effect," comments ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele. "Smart cities are needed to safeguard their inhabitants' rights to a liveable, sustainable environment. When people live in close proximity, everyone and everything must work together. That’s where ISO comes in."

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ISO 22000 in the retail industry – A matter of integration

A string of scandals, including the recent horsemeat scandal, highlight the importance of food safety for consumers. ISO 22000:2005, Food safety management systems – Requirements for any organization in the food chain, stands out from other standards on food safety control due to its advances on hazard analysis. It also addresses the management dimension, which is still widely underestimated, despite its acute importance especially for large enterprises with a highly complex organizational structure. Such companies have a large number of divisions and departments, causing a dilution of the activities that impact food safety. Management is crucial for coordinating activities, both at a vertical and horizontal level, to achieve the ultimate goal : supplying safe products.

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Power of ISO standards for fully networked cars and intelligent transport systems

How can international standards provide even greater support to the global automotive industry for developing fully networked cars (FNC) integrated with intelligent transport systems (ITS)? This was the fundamental question explored at the 8th Fully Networked Car Workshop, held on 6 March 2013 at the Geneva International Motor Show, Switzerland. Work paths were identified, such as the need for further safety standards in specific areas, as well as enhanced standards for traffic information. Additional areas for new standards are for vehicle-to-vehicle emergency communications and information security.

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ECCG emits its Opinion on consumers and vulnerability

Current policy and regulatory initiatives do not necessarily take into account the different needs of consumers according to their particular conditions or vulnerabilities.

The European Consumer Consultative Group (ECCG) promotes better understanding and increased consideration of all consumers’ needs so that the European Commission can develop an inclusive and targeted policy approach, in particular in their response to the European Parliament's Resolution A strategy for strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers of May 2012.

The ECCG's Opinion on consumers and vulnerability, approved on February 7, in conjunction with ANEC and BEUC, proposes solutions for defining, identifying and addressing the various aspects of vulnerability in different policy fields. The document includes a number of horizontal and sectorial legislative and policy recommendations, spanning product safety to energy and financial services, which the ECCG urges the European Commission and EU legislators to act upon.

 

Long-term authenticity of electronic signatures with ISO standard

A new ISO standard will help business and governments guarantee the long-term authenticity of electronic signatures, increasingly used in e-commerce and e-government. Following the requirements of ISO 14533 will also ensure the interoperability of electronic signatures when the documents they authenticate are transferred and processed through different information technology systems.

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The "Best of" ISO standards for paints and varnishes

ISO has just published the new edition of a collection of more than 225 ISO standards providing state-of-the-art requirements for the multi-billion dollar industry for paints and varnishes, which are used by almost every sector of business and technology. Paints and varnishes offer protection, decoration, safety signalling and other properties, thus adding value to products as diverse as construction (steel, concrete and wood), pipelines, toys and food packaging. The protection afforded by paint and varnish coatings not only saves billions of dollars a year, but also answers current environmental concerns over conservation and energy saving.

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Around the world … COPOLCO member news

CANADA

Online roadmap guides consumers through complaints

Resolving a complaint can be extremely frustrating for consumers if they are not sure of where to go for help. To this end, the Government of Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs at Industry Canada has developed an online tool, the Complaint Roadmap, to help consumers complain in a more efficient and effective manner. The Complaint Roadmap is a six-step action plan that guides consumers through the complaint process from beginning to end, whether dealing with a retail business, a service provider or a manufacturer. It provides advice on how to effectively present a complaint, first to the business and then to an appropriate complaint-handling body.

The Complaint Roadmap provides information on, and in some cases direct links to, the appropriate complaint-handling body the consumer needs to deal with, depending on the subject matter or nature of the complaint.

See more

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CHINA

Household Services

The China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) and the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) have launched China's first household services technical committee. This is a significant step forward, following SAC's Technical Committee 264 on services last year.

This is yet another example of how ISO and its members can achieve valuable outcomes for consumers in improving the quality and safety of services. COPOLCO considers services standardization an important and necessary task, since the number of standards for services is far smaller than the relative importance of services as a share of the Gross Domestic Product of all countries.

Launching the technical committee on China household services matters for the economy and for society. By involving Shandong Sunshine Sister limited company in holding the secretariat, CNIS and SAC will help ensure replication of good practices in household services, and provide a model for engaging start-up businesses in improving the quality and safety of consumer services as well as providing employment for China's citizens.

 

GERMANY

Implications of DIN's 'labeling of furniture' survey results

The Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN)'s Consumer Council has identified the need for consumer information at the point of sale with respect to furniture's performance, environmental and health characteristics, and maintenance.

In 2012, DIN's Consumer Council commissioned a study on labeling of furniture, conducted by a consortium of experts. Due to financial restrictions, this study focuses only on upholstered furniture. However, its findings are expected to be generally applicable. DIN intends to use the results in existing and future standardization work. Thus, the results of the study are based on requirements of existing standards and eco-labels.

The results show how product information (either at point of sale or on a webpage) may be developed. Consumers will be able to access any relevant piece of information, enabling them to improve purchasing decisions.

This study is available in German only at guido.hoff@din.de.

The European Commission's DG Enterprise and Industry is currently investigating launching a study on a common ID card for furniture. This aims to provide consumers with retail information such as producer, origin, use and maintenance instructions, substances harmful to the environment or health, etc. DIN's Consumer Council has already contacted DG Enterprise and Industry to offer its commitment.

 

NAMIBIA

Road traffic safety and international standards

Traffic accidents are a major problem in Namibia, with ever-growing and substantial socio-economic impact. The Government recognizes that although the Namibian road safety record is said to be among the better-managed in the developing countries, the country is worried about rising fatalities – by about 250 to 300 deaths – resulting from road accidents. This remains a serious concern and the country strives to be among the best-performing countries in Africa and the world at large.

According to Namibia's Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, there were 3'547 motor vehicle accidents in 2012; 561 people lost their lives and 5'652 sustained minor to life- threatening injuries. Standards are classified according to the economic or social problems they address; on road traffic safety, standards aim to reduce accidents and ultimately death on the road. ISO 39001 is one standard that can help organizations reduce the incidence, and risk of death and serious injury, related to road traffic crashes within their sphere of influence.

The following ISO standards are routinely used to assist Namibia's road transport authorities in carrying out roadworthiness tests on vehicles and general road traffic law enforcement: ISO 15484 Tests, ISO 6597 Brakes – Quality assurance, ISO 13216 ISOFIX – Child restraints, ISO 13232 Brakes, ISO 8710, ISO 11460 Motorcycles – Rider crash protection – Lights, ISO 10191 Tyres and rims – Capabilities, ISO 23671 Wet grip, and ISO 21750 Pressure monitoring.

 

SWITZERLAND

INTERNORM: improving consumer participation in standards

The Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) supports the University of Lausanne's two-year pilot project, INTERNORM, to improve consumer participation in standards-making. INTERNORM aimed to create an interactive knowledge forum sharing the expertise of civil society, in particular consumer organizations, environmental protection and trade unions, to reinforce understanding of, and participation in, international standardization. It provides financial and technical support for improved participation by civil society, and participates actively in the work of ISO Technical Committees 228 on Tourism and 229 on Nanotechnology. The first phase concluded with a wrap-up and assessment workshop on 18 May.

A public conference, When civil society joins technical diplomacy: Prospects and limits of participation in international standardization, on 19 May, attracted European and Swiss members of civil society, state representatives, standardization experts and university researchers. The workshop provided an interdisciplinary debate on a perceived democratic deficit in standardization, and the difficulties civil society representatives encounter in participating in ISO technical committees. A broader reflexion on the institutions and means necessary to ensure greater participation ensued; since civil society's input is vital given that the arenas of technical diplomacy are ever-increasingly shaping market conditions for everyone.

You can find the presentations in English and French here

 

UNITED KINGDOM

New BSI Consumer leaflets available

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has refreshed its consumer leaflets describing standards of importance to consumers: whether they concern safety, to ensure consumer products don’t cause injury – such as toy safety – or protect personal information or improve web accessibility. Many of these leaflets relate to international standards, such as those on complaints handling and social responsibility.

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BSI joins call for a pan-European accident data collection system

BSI supports the call for a Europe-wide accident data collection system, recently initiated by ANEC (European voice of consumers in standardization). As COPOLCO members well know, accident data, especially case listings, are of particular value to all stakeholders in technical committees, as evidence of hazards in product use can be used in setting requirements when developing or revising product safety standards. Some countries have systems in place – but the challenge is to have something where data from different countries can also be easily compared. The UK had a comprehensive system until 2002, which was axed with the intent to replace never achieved, and a coalition of organizations has been involved in considering ways of setting up a new system.

See more

 

 

Did you know …?

As many as 2.2 million people die annually from foodborne and waterborne diseases.

 

To find out more...

Visit us at ISO and Consumers on ISO's Website, ISO Online, www.iso.org.

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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