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Standards Get an ""A"" for Back-to-School Safety

9/08/2011
ANSI News
As the summer draws to a close, kids nationwide face the start of another school year. Fortunately, students can rely on standards for a safe and educational environment as the school bell calls them back to class.

From the littlest kindergarteners to the lankiest high school seniors, every student deserves a classroom that is comfortable and conducive to learning. For the youngest learners, this means furniture that is sized appropriately for children rather than adults. ISO 5970:1979, Furniture -- Chairs and tables for educational institutions -- Functional sizes, provides furniture measurements that are derived from anthropometric data, and compliance with them assures that the furniture permits good seating postures. This standard was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 136, Furniture. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to this TC is BIFMA International, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

Adequate lighting is another important consideration in the classroom. ANSI/IESNA RP-3-00, Lighting for Educational Facilities, is an American National Standard (ANS) that addresses lighting needs of all of educational facilities, from preschool to continuing professional development. The document details how various lighting schemes can best support specific instructional media (voice, chalkboard, video); specific design issues including visual tasks, education level, psychological impacts, maintenance, energy management, costs, and government codes; life cycle costs and analysis; and more. This ANS was developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

Math, science, and history may take up the bulk of the day, but many students look forward to one or twice weekly "specials," such as art and music. Standards contribute to these subjects as well, such as ASTM D5067-05(2010), Standard Specification for Artists' Watercolor Paints. Developed by ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator, this document includes requirements for composition, physical properties, performance, pigment identification, lightfastness, consistency, and more, helping little Picassos to develop their talent.

Lunch time! From tuna to tacos, cafeteria food is scarfed down by students from coast to coast during the middle of every school day. NSF/ANSI 8-2010, Commercial powered food preparation equipment, provides guidelines for many pieces of equipment used in a school cafeteria, including mixers, pasta makers, peelers, slicers, and tenderizers. This standard was developed by NSF International, an ANSI member and audited designator.

Whether lamenting the end of summer fun or welcoming reunions with friends and the challenges of a new grade, students can rest assured that standards are there to make schools a safe and educational haven from September to June.

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Beth Goodbaum

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