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ISO Consumer update

No. 17 - December 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.

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

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What's happening …

ISO/COPOLCO welcomes new Chair!

The ISO Council has appointed Ms Ratna Devi Nadarajan (DSM – Malaysia) as Chair of ISO/COPOLCO from January 2014. She succeeds Ms Norma McCormick (SCC – Canada) who completes two consecutive two-year terms as Chair in December. At its September meeting, ISO Council expressed its thanks for Ms Norma McCormick's valuable services to the committee.

Ms Nadarajan is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Association of Standards Users. She graduated from the National University of Malaysia with a degree in Food Science and from Putra University of Malaysia with a Masters in Environment Science. After a first experience in manufacturing, Ms Nadarajan became a quality and environment management consultant. Ms Nadarajan’s work now involves advocating consumers’ right to safe products and services and promoting sustainable production and consumption as a crucial component of sustainable development. Her standards experience includes membership of the Integrated Drafting Task Force for ISO 26000, Guidance on social responsibility and Secretary of ISO PC 240 which developed
ISO 10393, Consumer product recall – Guidance for suppliers. Before taking on the COPOLCO Chair role she was co-convenor of the COPOLCO Working Group on Product Safety.


Building confidence in a business-to-consumer relationship – what now?

Global trade, e-commerce and the rise of online review systems are giving consumers more marketplace leverage – yet less proximity to suppliers. Businesses can no longer rely on traditional marketing to communicate with discriminating, net-savvy consumers. What about confidence in this environment: what do consumers need to know when making a purchase – and how can they know?

This is the question ISO/COPOLCO will address during its international workshop on 14 May 2014, in Milan, hosted by Italy's standards organization, UNI. This workshop, Building confidence in a business-to-consumer relationship – roles and expectations will look at this relationship from both sides. It will explore how consumers can make informed choices based on product information, on-site or online. It will also examine how suppliers can communicate effectively with consumers about certain product characteristics, such as: fitness for purpose, safety, durability, sustainability, origin, environmental impact, production process, composition, and interoperability.

Find out more: contact or the ISO/COPOLCO member in your country. This event is open to the public.


Milan Plenary: save the date!

ISO/COPOLCO members and their delegations are warmly invited to attend COPOLCO's plenary, in Milan on 15-16 May 2014, directly after the workshop. UNI will host it at the headquarters of the Region of Lombardy, which is supporting the plenary and related events within the framework of programmes leading up to Milan's Universal Exposition 2015.


Wheelchair ride for guerrilla art

A group of artists has turned to their drawing boards, claiming it is time we redefine the iconic stick figure on a wheelchair that denotes accessibility – to make it more active and empowering. This raises issues for ISO. Should we listen to these voices and rethink our time-tested standard, or do we stick to our guns and leave things as they are? See more about ISO's graphical symbols below.


Surf over 4 000 ISO graphical symbols online

From water safety and public information signs to automobile and equipment symbols, you can now browse over 4 000 ISO graphical symbols on ISO's Online Browsing Platform (OBP). Enjoy ISO's fun booklet, the International Language of Graphical Symbols and ISO's weekly #ISOsymbols challenge! Can you guess what the signs indicate..?


The journey to safer roads

Every 30 seconds someone is killed in a road crash – that's more than 1.2 million people per year. A further 50 million suffer moderate to severe injuries. When a road crash claims the life of a loved one, a family is scarred forever. The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims acknowledging the victims of road traffic crashes, and their families, is celebrated annually on the third Sunday of November.


Child seats are important, so… meet the ISOFIX standard!

According to a recent article in Bloomberg Business week, China lost almost three times as many children in road traffic crashes as the United States last year, even though it has fewer than half the number of vehicles. Only about one in 100 cars in China has child restraints installed, but the government is taking first steps to making them compulsory. The use of child restraints reduces the likelihood of a fatal crash by approximately 70% among infants and between 54-80% among young children. Check out the WHO infographic, and ISOFIX.


Bridging the disability gap

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is on December 3. How can standards bridge the divide? The wide-ranging portfolio of ISO standards on accessibility, including those relating to the physical environment or information and communication technology, to specific product standards related to wheelchairs or other devices to improve mobility, aims to improve safety and quality of life for all. Furthermore, the ISO/IEC policy statement: Addressing the needs of older persons and people with disabilities in standardization work, and Guide 71, Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities, set policies and practices to improve the way standards facilitate access to goods and services for the elderly and persons with disabilities. This is increasingly important in an ageing world in which people are living longer.

The European Consumer Voice in Standardization, ANEC, has also published work on accessibility.


Toxins, magnets, choking hazards, deafening noises: Trouble in Toyland

Toys remain a central focus of the holiday season. And, unfortunately, they continue to present many safety and health hazards documented in previous years, according to the latest Trouble in Toyland study, which again identifies toxins, choking, magnets and noise as the primary hazards. The study is the 28th survey of toy safety produced by the US Public Interest Research Group. The annual report has led to more than 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years. It focuses primarily on dangers to infants and toddlers, who account for the majority of injuries from toys.

How can standards help improve toy safety? The case of Mattel.


Are you worried when you shop online?

There have been more cases of false online hotel reviews. How can we ensure their veracity? The ISO member for France, AFNOR, which launched the world's first national standard in July 2013, has initiated a proposal for ISO to undertake new standards work at the international level in this area (see below).


If these issues matter to you… you can act!

Your voice matters! Why consumers need to participate in standards-making... and how to get involved...Involving consumers in standards - Why and How? Perhaps you will be inspired by a personal view on attending an ISO Consumers meeting by Celine Awuor, Project Officer at Consumer Information Network.


Two further publications that support consumer participation are:

My ISOJob is a valuable resource for delegates and experts about their role in developing international standards and guidance documents. In a well-organized, easy-to-understand brochure of 21 pages it introduces the need and role for international standards and the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. It goes on to introduce ISO’s organization, its committee structure and the rules (directives) and procedures that support standards development. Besides the content, the value lies in its applicability to all delegates and experts, regardless of their stakeholder group. So this is as useful for consumer representatives as other delegates. Join a level playing field with My ISO Job.

Consumers International also produces guidance for consumer representatives. First steps in standards is for consumer organizations who seek basic guidance on how to participate in national and international standards-making.

First steps is written in straightforward language and contains case studies, practical tips and sources of information and help. Its aim is to assist and encourage consumer participation by providing information drawn from the experiences of other consumers involved in developing standards. It gives guidance on the theory and practice of being an effective consumer representative, whilst acknowledging the constraints on time and money that consumer organizations have to participate in standards work, as one of many competing demands in their agenda.

Consumers International has liaison status with ISO/COPOLCO and with a number of ISO and IEC technical committees.


Standards are everywhere, every day

See a great video on why standards matter to consumers, from the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN).


Plug in with social media

Want to stay up-to-the-minute on consumers and standards? Join more than 1000 others on Facebook and 500 on Twitter!



What's new in International Standards

A new ISO technical committee: Online reputation (TS/P 241) under ballot

A proposal to establish a new ISO technical committee on online reputation has been submitted by AFNOR (France), based on a French standard published in July 2013. ISO members have been invited to vote on this proposal by 19 January 2014.

This proposal covers:
Standardization of methods, tools and best practices related to online reputation of organizations, companies, services, products and/or persons through social media (social space on internet dedicated to interactions between individuals or communities of individuals). This includes standardization of efficient processes, practices and measures based upon data that can be captured through a search on social media including web pages and emails (pushing).

The scope does not cover privacy and data, fraud, brand evaluation or management system matters, which are already covered by other technical committees.

For more information, please contact the ISO member in your country.


Uncover hidden security risks

From crimeware to hacktivism, cyber-attacks have continued to evolve this year, impacting businesses of all sizes. Setting up a strong information security management system, using ISO/IEC 27001, can help organizations to protect themselves. Find out first-hand from the experts on ISO's Google Hangout on ISO/IEC 27001.


Calculating the carbon footprint of products – a quest for clarity

Which is more expensive – a can of beer or a bottle of shampoo – how much do they cost in grams of carbon dioxide (CO2)? This incredibly complex task has motivated the development of a new international technical specification ISO/TS 14067 on Greenhouse Gases, to improve consumer choice, and slow global climate change.


The world's first fire management system

Until now, there was no holistic management system that looks at fire safety across an organization; fire safety often gets confused with health and safety. To address this, BSI, the UK’s National Standards Body, has developed a publicly available specification, PAS 7, Fire risk management systems.


Advances in sound and light at the IEC and ITU

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is involved in standardization that is allowing great advances in lighting solutions, and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) announces a breakthrough in audio standards; immersive and personalized sound will transform your future TV experience.


Taste wine like the experts

Do you know that wine-tasting is not done using any old glass? Special glasses, following the guidelines in ISO 3591:1977, Sensory analysis – Apparatus – Wine-tasting glass, are used to help you enjoy its full intensity. This International Standard defines the shape and dimensions of the glass to ensure that the opening is narrower than the body. This distinctive shape helps concentrate the bouquet (the odour), and helps release the full body of the wine.


Help at hand for risk management with ISO/TR 31004

After the success of ISO 31000, Risk Management, a new technical report,
ISO/TR 31004:2013, Risk management – Guidance for the implementation of ISO 31000, will help organizations smoothly align their risk management practices.


How ISO standards contribute to successful breast cancer screening

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Early detection is one of the best ways to improve survival rate. This can be done by hand and by using mammography screening. A mammogram is an X-ray exam of the breasts to look for abnormal changes. The results can directly become a digital image ready to be read and analyzed by a radiologist.

ISO has developed a number of International Standards to support digital imaging, in particular ISO 12052:2006, Health informatics – Digital imaging and communication in medicine, including workflow and data management.


New Bio specifications

Bio-based products in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food additives are projected to have a total market value of €40 billion by 2020, and by 2025 15% of the $3 trillion global chemical sales will be derived from bio-derived sources. BSI has published a publicly available specification, PAS 600:2013 Bio-based products – Guide to standards and claims. Developed by subject experts, the specification is aimed primarily at SMEs and provides authoritative information on key standards, codes of practice and guidance that can be adopted in the production, use and disposal of bio-based products. It provides guidance on communicating the benefits of bio-based products in a way that is accurate, relevant and not misleading.


European Product Safety Conference

At the British Standard Institution, BSI's, annual Product Safety Conference, Ms Imola Bedö introduced the European Commission’s Single Market for Green Products Initiative, which aims to improve the availability of clear, reliable and comparable information on the environmental performance of products and organizations. Currently there are more than 80 footprinting schemes available internationally, which Ms Bedö believes leads to consumer confusion and lack of trust.

ANEC, The European consumer voice in standardisation Secretary-General, Mr Stephen Russell, also presented the consumer expectations of product safety & market surveillance. He noted that the present revision of European legislation is an occasion to improve consumer protection, but the actors involved have different ideas about what to achieve and how to achieve it. Despite steps taken by the European Institutions in recent years to strengthen market surveillance, he believes there is still need for a
European framework for market surveillance in order to ensure a coherent and effective approach to surveillance activities across all Member States.



Around the world … COPOLCO member news


Lots of activities for consumers

Since the Ministry of Industry & Commerce published the Technical Regulation for General Product Safety in 2010, the Consumer Protection Directorate of the Bahrain Standards and Metrology Directorate (BSMD) has engaged consumers to study drafts for food standards, and standards for vehicles, spare parts and after-sale services together with recall policies. The Consumer Protection law and its regulations draw on the Technical Regulation for General Product Safety.  The Consumer Protection Directorate has also published a series of creative training tools and a website (in Arabic) for young consumers in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

An important international standard for BSMD is Technical Regulation GSO OIML R 79:2007 on labeling requirements for prepackaged products with constant nominal content with respect to: the identity of the product; the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, distributor, importer or retailer; and, the net quantity of the product.



Organic food priority

Organic food is a dynamic, rapidly growing sector of the global food industry. It uses farming and production methods that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment. Standards Council of Canada explains why organic standards are a priority for the Government of Canada.



Standards education and a national conference for child safety

In 2009, the Czech Consumer Association (CSA) established a Cabinet for Standardization, that has enhanced consumer participation at national, European (ANEC) and international (ISO/COPOLCO) levels, in cooperation with the national standardization body (UNMZ); and has issued several booklets and leaflets that explain the role of standards to consumers and other interested parties.

This year's booklet, Safety of children: By means of standards (in Czech) refers to how standards adopted at national, European and/or international level may help solve safety and/or quality issues with products or services used by children.

In May 2013, in Prague, the Association and the Cabinet organized the national conference on Prevention of Child injuries in playgrounds, sports and other leisure activities. Experts explained to about 200 participants how European standards are important for prevention, and highlighted the importance of an annual independent technical inspection to verify standards compliance. For more information, contact
Ms Libor Dupal, Chairman of the Czech Consumer Association and Director of the Cabinet at



TISI standard on sustainable business, or "sufficiency economy"

The Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) has published new guidance to assist industries to integrate the principles of sustainability into their management and operation, called "sufficiency economy".

TISI 9999 Part 1:2013, Guidance on sufficiency economy, for industries is in honor of the founder of the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy, Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand. It provides principles, key components of Sufficiency Economy, as well as a guidance on how to integrate management principles for industries of all types, sizes and locations into the organization. The standard is not a management system standard nor is it intended for certification.

This standard not only helps industries achieve balanced development for the economy, society and environment, but also stability, sustainable growth and happiness. Consumers can be ensured of quality products and services that are reasonably priced, safe for use, and made by those who have taken stakeholders, such as clients, the community, and the environment, into account.



Planning for the future

The British Standards Institute's current Consumer & Public Involvement Network strategy and workplan runs from 2012-2014. Many successes result from consumer involvement in our key areas of inclusivity, sustainability, security, privacy and identity and wellbeing. Highlights include:

  • participation in standards development in over 30 topics, such as
    ISO 10008 on e-commerce and the BS 13500 Code of practice for delivering effective governance, and European work on citizen requirements in areas of societal security such as mass evacuation;
  • standards with significant consumer involvement, such as BS 18477, Inclusive service provision, is promoted by organizations such as the UK energy regulators, OFGEM (clause 4.17);
  • consumer publications such as Standards matter to consumers;
  • topics such as choking hazards from small parts being taken forward as possible COPOLCO work items.

Work which will continue in 2014 includes national and international standards for adventurous activities, complaints handling and contact centres. Possible new work is starting on dementia care, social responsibility, and RFID's privacy impact assessment in Europe.

A workshop will be held early in 2014 to take ideas further, with current members of CPI's Strategic Advisory Committee and other interested organizations.


BSI Open doors sponsored study visit

Stakeholder engagement was a key area for delegates to the BSI's study visit held in November. Twelve countries, from Santa Lucia to Malaysia and several African countries were represented amongst the senior staff from NSBs who came to find out more about how BSI develops standards. All were able to join around 300 BSI staff, technical committees and others interested in standardization at the BSI Standards Forum which included a presentation on the work of BSI's Consumer & Public Involvement Network and a workshop on standards built round a general knowledge quiz where the answers linked to standardization. Delegates are now back in their home countries and already reporting implementing improvements in their systems, gleaned from the presentations – we hope they will include more consumers in standardization – each left with a copy of Consumers International's brochure to help make contacts.



Did you know …?

According to the Global Burden of Disease report, some 6 million people die annually because of exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution. This is more than the number of deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined. Sources: and the Lancet.



To find out more...

Visit us at ISO and …Consumers on ISO's Website, ISO Online,

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. Contributor: Ms Katia Kerswell

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


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