Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, with life as we knew it still on pause for millions, staying healthy is at the forefront of many people's minds. The recent World Health Day 2021 amplified the theme: "Building a fairer, healthier world." However, equal access to a healthier lifestyle for all is still a challenge. Some nations have better access to better conditions and health services than others, as the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes.
In light of the ongoing healthcare crisis, and to promote the ready and rapid accessibility of information relevant to the COVID-19 public health emergency, a number of ANSI members and accredited standards developers are providing free access to critical standards. Here are just some examples:
Last year, UL, an ANSI member and audited designator, announced that it is providing free access upon request to those involved in fighting the virus and mitigating the pandemic. Accessible through its online platform, UL has published standards related to healthcare, air ventilation and building materials can support essential services helping to fight the virus and potentially mitigate its spread.
The National Fire Protection Association, (NFPA) an ANSI member and audited designator, offers resources that emergency managers, businesses, schools, and health care providers can use to help prepare for, develop, or update continuity plans; and protect those who may be vulnerable or exposed to this infectious disease. Free access to NFPA's codes and standards are available to the public via www.nfpa.org/coronavirus.
In 2020, ASHRAE, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, launched its COVID-19: One Page Guidance Documents that cover several aspects of building safety, from reopening schools, to guidance for residential buildings.
AAMI, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, launched a list of guidance documents that were developed by AAMI's COVID-19 Response Team, made up of manufacturers, clinicians and FDA representatives, to respond to the ventilator shortage emergency. The documents, which cover Emergency Use Ventilator (EUV) Design Guidance, Basic Safety of Emergency Use Medical Devices, and more are accessible at AAMI.org's resource page.
Also freely available, ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator, launched no-cost public access to ASTM standards used in the production and testing of personal protective equipment, ranging from face masks, medical gowns, gloves, thermometers, and hand sanitizers - to support manufacturers, test labs, health care professionals, and the public, as they respond to COVID-19. The standards include the new F3502-21 Barrier Face Covering standard.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, provides open access to standards at no charge, with medical device/equipment related standards and 3D printing relevant standards and research available on the IEEE Xplore digital library. The standards are meant to help researchers understand and manage different aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and technologies that can be leveraged to combat the virus.
Access more ANSI member offerings on ansi.org/resource-center/COVID-19.
For its part, ANSI launched a portal providing free, read-only access to critical standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to help address the COVID-19 crisis. The ANSI portal now includes 38 international standards covering medical equipment and devices - including ventilators and respiratory equipment; protective clothing used in health care settings; and business continuity management, security, and resilience. The portal directly has supported manufacturers, government agencies, national laboratories, and research institutions in 76 countries around the globe working to address the pandemic. To access the portal, users must accept the license agreement and register. Once registered, users can return to the portal via https://asc.ansi.org.
Also, of note, ISO has developed guidance to help organizations manage the risks arising from COVID-19. For example, the recently published ISO/PAS 45005, Occupational health and safety management – General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic, is applicable to organizations of all sizes and sectors. For example, the standard is applicable to orgs that have been operating throughout the pandemic; are resuming or planning to resume operations following full or partial closure; are re-occupying workplaces that have been fully or partially closed; or are new and planning to operate for the first time.
Beyond the COVID pandemic, standardization supports healthcare in other innovative ways. ANSI's recently released report, Standardization Empowering AI-Enabled Systems in Healthcare, reflects stakeholder recommendations and opportunities for greater coordination of standardization and identifies 5 emerging artificial intelligence healthcare themes—and opportunities for standardization.
As ANSI has also reported, ongoing work in international standards support sustainable sanitation that can help protect and maintain the health security of the world.
Access more information about World Health Day on WHO's website.
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