Crucial standards-settings organizations rely on volunteers; you can help!

Did you know that everywhere you turn—at home, school, work, and online—standards play a vital role in our everyday life? From the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the technologies that support remote learning and work, standardization is at play, ensuring safety, quality and interoperability.
Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Standards can establish the size, shape or capacity of a product—like lithium-ion batteries, for example. They can specify performance expectations for products or personnel, like the gas and electricity usage of energy-efficient appliances, or how construction inspectors evaluate a building’s safety. They even guide how U.S. manufacturers operate, to ensure that the products they produce and the processes and systems they follow are safe, reliable, efficient, and work effectively together.

These crucial standards are developed by thousands of volunteer experts—along with the invaluable input of volunteer consumers, like you.

Get involved: Weigh in on standards

The strength of standards depends on the active participation of each group affected by them, including consumers. If you work well as part of a committee and have some experience building consensus around an issue, there is a world of opportunity for you to contribute to developing standards—areas in which your expertise could be put to use to benefit not only the standards system, but the general public as well.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which coordinates the U.S. standardization system and accredits the procedures of standard-setting organizations (but does itself not develop standards), can help you find the right opportunity to have your voice heard and make an impact. There are a range of ways to get involved, including by:

  • Participating on a specific technical committee or in an activity of an ANSI-accredited standards developer whose work aligns with your interests (click here); and
  • Attending public standards meetings, posted on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s public calendar, and contributing your insights and expertise to the discussion. (Upcoming meetings include one on safety for virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology equipment, on Jan. 6, and one on stability requirements for clothing storage units [to avoid tip-overs], on Jan. 11.)

Most standards groups meet two to four times per year, plus attend any additional task group conference calls or virtual meetings that may be needed. But standards participation is flexible, and your level of involvement is up to you.

If you would like to learn more and are interested in participating in collaborative standards work, contact Cleo Stamatos at ANSI (cstamatos AT ansi DOT org).

Cleo Stamatos is a longtime supporter of Consumer Action who served as a co-chair of our 50th anniversary event in November. She is ANSI’s consumer and legislative outreach manager.

By Cleo Stamatos




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