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wsw 2022

What is the Impact of Standards? Panel Convenes during WSW to Discuss Measuring the Impact of Voluntary Consensus Standards on Health and Safety

10/20/2022

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in partnership with UL Standards & Engagement and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff, convened last week to provide an update on an ongoing initiative that seeks to identify best practices and methodologies for measuring the effects that standards have on human health and safety.

“Advances in Measuring the Impact of Voluntary Consensus Standards on Health and Safety” brought together some 180 stakeholders in the standards and conformity assessment community on October 11 in Washington, DC, and online as part of ANSI’s World Standards Week series of events. Attendees heard key concepts, a case study, and a panel discussion that apprised them of the progress of the initiative since the release of its report in October 2021.

Panelists Scott Ayers, CPSC fire program manager; David Wroth, UL Standards & Engagement director, data science; Andrew Kapp, UL Standards & Engagement research manager, data science; and Diana Jones, International Safety Equipment Association senior director, technical programs and development, shared their insights and engaged in a spirited discussion with attendees on the challenges of measuring a standard’s impact, and the benefits of having data-based measurements.

Ayers said that people participate in the standards development process because they want to make an impact, and having measurement data is a great way to articulate the impact that they can make – ultimately encouraging them to participate and bringing new perspectives to the standards development process. Jones agreed, and noted the importance of considering conformance in evaluating a standard’s impact. The effectiveness of a standard – its ability to product a desired change – combined with conformance to that standard determines its impact.

Wroth spoke on the life cycle of a standard, and how its impact follows a curve tied to this life cycle. Measuring the impact of a standard must take the standard’s stage in the life cycle—from development through retirement—into account. Kapp then introduced the topic of predictive modeling as another method of assessing the effectiveness of a standard, citing the CDC’s use of predictive modeling when estimating the potential of injury related to portable generators. 

Panelists agreed that an accurate measurement of a standard’s impact must include external influences. While an equation may be developed that can produce a high-level overview of the method of determining impact, the accuracy of the results will depend on the availability of hard data. Ultimately, many of the conclusions reached will be qualitative rather than quantitative.

The forum concluded with widespread agreement that the work in determining how to measure the impact of voluntary consensus standards is at a starting place. On behalf of the working group, panelists welcomed attendees and all stakeholders to contribute or send feedback to further this important initiative. The group plans to release a white paper on the topic in the coming months.

Access the recording and presentation from the event.

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