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SABS Standard Development Continues

SABS Standard Development Continues

National Standards provide knowledge and support technical aspects of societal and environment policies and contribute to sustainable development. They further serve as a vehicle for the dissemination of new technologies and innovative practices, facilitating trade while supporting industrialisation objectives.The need for national standards has been highlighted during the outbreak of COVID-19 as disruption of global supply chains has impacted the acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE) and related medical equipment, practices including infrastructure to deal with the containment and management of the pandemic. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is the National Standards Body mandatedto develop, promote and maintain South African National Standards (SANS).

“Given the lockdown measures in place, SABS has had to review its operational model to ensure that it continues to develop national standards and provide access to national standards during these unusual times. The development of SANS is as a result of the voluntary participation and scientific input of various subject matter experts. The members of the SABS technical committees aspire to achieve consensus on the technical requirements to ensure that SANS are relevant and in the best interest of the country,” says Sadhvir Bissoon, Standards Executive at SABS.

In the past few weeks, SABS has transitioned to convening online technical committee meetings to ensure that the important work of developing national standards continues with minimal interruptions. “One of the priority projects that has emerged during the pandemic is to fast track the development of an Industry Technical Agreement (ITA) on fabric type face masks. It is important that the publication addresses minimum requirements and test methods for fabric type, reusable face masks,” explains Bissoon.

Standards do not exist in isolation and the need for conformity assessment, that is testing and certification, of products is equally important for quality assurance purposes.

“SANS can take anything from six to 24 months to be developed, depending on the complexity of the standard, stakeholder engagement process and achieving a consensus driven publication. Standards are developed through an open, transparent and consensus process within technical committees and are subjected to a public enquiry process. In some cases draft standards are subjected to several rounds of publicenquiry processesand SABS has the responsibility of ensuring that the comments are addressed where relevant. These are some of the factors that determine the length of time a standard takes to be developed,” says Bissoon.

SABS currently has a collection of 7 400 SANS and continues to develop more standards. SANS are available for purchase via the SABS webstore.