Outside the U.S., there is far greater reliance on mandatory testing and certification.
- In Europe, for example, all PPE must be tested and display the CE mark.
- In Canada, CSA is both a standards developer and certification body, writing the standards and conducting testing to indicate conformity. This mandatory testing and certification meets the needs of a global marketplace, when nations agree to mutual acceptance of products, which can then cross borders without needing additional approvals. Because these are government-to-government agreements, the national authorities are much more involved in the process.
International standards also serve the needs of a global market, as far-flung suppliers and users are able to speak a common commercial language. Increasingly, trade agreements and treaties bind all parties – including the U.S. – to use international standards where possible in procurement and regulation.
U.S. companies and organizations participate in international standards development through Technical Advisory Groups to ISO, which has committees and working groups to develop PPE product standards. In some of these groups, the U.S. is pressing for international adoption of our domestic standards and practices. ISO and European standards also influence new U.S. standards in development.
The goal of one standard and one test, accepted worldwide, is the dream of many international businesses. But it’s probably a long way off.