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To celebrate World Standards Day, we consider the importance of standards on our everyday lives.

It is easy to take them for granted, but standards ensure safety, quality and functionality in virtually every aspect of our lives. To celebrate World Standards Day, we consider the importance of standards and the impact they have on our everyday lives.

Standards were first developed to ensure a common understanding and implementation, enabling things to function in a safe and efficient way, alone or alongside other components or equipment. The British Standards Institute began to develop its first formal standards at the beginning of the twentieth century. The International Standards Organisation was formed in 1947 to better coordinate the relationships and standards between the many National Standards Bodies.

Over the last 20 years, the complexity of manufacturing and trade, and the demands of daily life have progressed rapidly. As a result, standards have become more complex and demanding, and have grown significantly in number as we increasingly rely on them to ensure that things work and are safe.

Where Do You Find Standards at Work?

There is a common, and sometimes justified, criticism of some standards or the way they are implemented, but it is interesting to consider what a day without standards would be like.

For example, at night, we are kept warm by a duvet, which is designed to meet standards of thermal performance. In the morning, we are awoken by an alarm clock. It worked because, yesterday, we installed new batteries into it, which fitted and functioned as they are manufactured to standards of size and voltage.

As we make breakfast we can boil water in a kettle we purchased last week, confident that the power plug would meet the required standard and fit the plug socket in our kitchen.

We prepare food we purchased from the store, confident that it would taste as good as it did last time and be safe to consume because it has been processed and handled to standards of quality and hygiene.

As we set off on our day’s journey, we can buy a train ticket or even swipe a credit card to get direct access to the travel network, all because of standards.

At lunchtime we may need to buy some shoes, and can be confident that standardised sizing will reduce the number of shoes we need to try before we can find a good fit.

All through our working day we are able to communicate, access information and perform our jobs because the systems and equipment we use have been developed and manufactured to meet defined standards of compatibility, performance and quality.

Standards Give Us Confidence

Measurement, assessment and certification are not the objectives of standards, but fulfill an essential role in giving confidence to users and buyers that the products and services they use do in fact meet the standards that enable them to function.

Throughout our day, the batteries, appliances, food, clothing and systems we use have been assessed to assure that they and their manufacturing processes comply with the required standards –not only for performance, but for impact on the environment, safety, social acceptability and many other factors.

So, although we may question their necessity, we must recognize that without standards, everyday life would be somewhat more difficult than the quality, safety and convenience we now enjoy and sometimes take for granted.