ANSI - American National Standards Institute

How Consumers Impact Standards

Consumer Affairs

ANSI's Consumer Affairs department is committed to:

  • Informing consumers and consumer representatives of standardization initiatives
  • Conducting outreach to consumer groups and other relevant organizations to help identify appropriate consumer representatives to participate in national and international standardization activities
  • Facilitating consumer participation in the voluntary consensus standards setting process

Why are Standards Important to Consumers?

Voluntary standards make our everyday lives safer, easier, and more enjoyable. Many standards protect human health, safety, and the environment. Others help to ensure that different products work compatibly together. For instance, standards for structural resilience and fire prevention help to assure health and safety. Compatibility standards ensure that you can make a phone call anywhere in the world, and that a plane that takes off from Léon can be refueled in Los Angeles. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 100,000 standards at work across all areas of industry.

The U.S. standardization system is voluntary, private-sector-led, and market-place-driven. Since its formation in 1918, ANSI serves as the coordinator of this system, providing a neutral forum for the development of policies on standards issues and bringing interested parties together to address real-world problems through consensus-based standards.

By bringing these diverse interests together and leveraging shared expertise, the voluntary consensus approach enables a strong, flexible, effective, and responsive standardization system.

How Can Consumers Make a Difference?

Consumers provide critical, first-hand perspectives on how products will be perceived and used in the marketplace. This important perspective improves outcomes for all end users, while helping to drive innovation, strengthen industry, and fuel our nation’s economy.

For example, consumers played an essential role in the development of the consumer safety performance specification for shopping carts (ASTM F2372-15, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Shopping Carts). Consumer representatives voiced concern about needs for better labeling and increased education for consumers. Their input helped shape a new label and additional safety requirements for shopping carts that where incorporated into the standard. ASTM F2372-15 is still active and covers performance requirements, test methods, and labeling requirements for shopping carts and restraint systems.

Who are Consumers and Consumer Representatives?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines a consumer as a member of the general public, purchasing or using goods, property, or services for private purposes. A consumer representative is an independent, not-for-profit organization advocating for the interests of consumers before other organizations or governments, not involved in the advancement of commercial interests, and not affiliated with a political party.

AN INTRODUCTION TO STANDARDS: WHY, WHERE AND HOW ARE THEY DEVELOPED?