ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Voluntary Standards Cover the Spectrum: From Computer Workstations to Lasers


New York, Sep 20, 2002

In an effort to communicate the vital role that standards play in daily life, ANSI Online News will publish, on an ongoing basis, a series of snapshots of the diverse standards initiatives undertaken in the global and national standards arena, many of which are performed by ANSI members and ANSI-accredited standards developers. Two of the latest selections follow:

Computer Workstations

Over half of the American workforce uses a computer on a daily basis, and while technology has revolutionized business in many ways, there are sometimes damaging results for the user. Those who work with computers are giving voice to various health complaints, also known as repetitive strain injury (RSI), as a result of being hunched over a P.C. for prolonged periods of time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the reported incidences of RSIs (which can include fatigue, eye strains, backaches, stiff necks and hand pains) have skyrocketed from 18 percent of all occupational illnesses reported in 1981 to nearly 70 percent today.

Recognizing the increasing importance of ergonomically designed computer workstations and the consequent benefits to users and employers, including enhanced productivity and comfort, The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer, recently issued the draft revision BSR/HFES100, Human Factors Engineering of Computer Workstations. The new document, which is the proposed successor to the 1988 version of ANS Human Factors Engineering of Visual Display Terminal Workstations (ANSI/HFS100-1988), guides designers on how to accommodate variation in both the size of individual users and the manner of usage. It also provides guidance to the individuals who must integrate individual workstation components designed for a wide variety of users into a system that best fits the intended individual user.

Lasers

Since the first realization of the potential of lasers nearly 50 years ago, the device has been put to work in a vast range of applications and has assumed many forms. Today, lasers are used in practically every field - from medicine to manufacturing to telecommunications - and are even given cameos in Hollywood movies such as Austin Powers and Star Wars. They reflect diversity in size from tiny semiconductor devices no bigger than a grain of salt to high-power instruments as large as the average living room.

The Laser Institute of America, an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer, has recently begun new work in progress to revise ANSI Z136.1, Safe Use of Lasers, the parent document and cornerstone of the Z136 series of laser safety standards, to provide improved recommendations for the safe use of lasers and laser systems. The revision covers lasers that operate at wavelengths between 180 nanometers and 1 millimeter and includes new International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) classifications of lasers for international harmonization. This revision will also include areas with new personal safety information concerning exposure time criteria, bio-effects, control measures and medical surveillance. This standard represents the most comprehensive laser safety information and is designed to be the foundation for laser safety programs used in industrial, military, medical and educational applications nationwide.

This "standards snapshot" was made possible by the steady stream of press information disseminated by standards developing organizations to keep the ANSI Federation abreast of their achievements. As the Institute receives news of published voluntary standards and voluntary standards initiatives with broad appeal and impact, similar articles will be posted to the ANSI Online News page. Please continue to forward your updates to the Communications and Public Relations department at (f) 212.398.0023 or (e) pr@ansi.org. For additional information on the wide array of standards applications, see the Media Tips and Case Studies section of the Institute's website.

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