The American National Standards Institute (aka ANSI) is a non-profit, private group that monitors the development of voluntary standards for a variety of things, such as personnel, products, processes, systems, and services in the United States. These are consensus standards developed by the member businesses and groups of ANSI. ANSI also helps to align United States standards with international ones to enable American goods and services to be used in other countries.
When it comes to product safety standards, ANSI is the most familiar name for most businesses. However, its familiarity typically just applies to its name. Its actual function is commonly misunderstood. ANSI is a federation made up of groups, businesses, and individuals who manage the system of voluntary standards in the United States. It is not affiliated with any government agency, though it does work closely with government agencies. It also serves as the official voice of the United States in international groups that develop and monitor standards. ANSI brings in the revenue it uses to operate from the dues paid by its members, and from the sales of its publications on standards.
Companies and other organizations can receive ANSI accreditation when they develop their own standards if these standards are up to ANSI’s mission statement values. To receive ANSI accreditation for their own standards, a company, organization, or group must make sure the quality and performance of their products and services are consistent, that everyone in the company uses the same definition for certain terms regarding safety and standards, and that their products are all tested in the same way.
ANSI also provides accreditation to groups that perform product and personnel certification if those certifications are done according to the requirements identified in international standards.
While ANSI does not develop standards, it does oversee the development of standards, and the use of such standards, by providing accreditation for the procedures of the development of standards by other groups and companies. When ANSI provides accreditation, it means that the procedures an entity used in developing standards of its own meet ANSI’s requirements. These requirements include consensus, due process, balance, and openness.
- Accreditation of an entity’s standards by ANSI involves the following:
- Development of standards by a group that includes representatives from all interested parties
- A period available for public review and comment on the draft of the standards
- A period for consideration of and response to public comments
- An incorporation of changes that were submitted, as long as those changes meet the same consensus requirements of the original draft
- The availability of an appeals process for anyone participating in developing the standards who believes the principles of ANSI were not used or respected during the development of the standards
ANSI is the official representative of the United States to the International Organization for Standardization (and is a founding member of that group), and the International Electrotechnical Commission through the United States National Committee. ANSI is involved in almost all of the technical programs for these organizations and is the leader of many of the most important committees and subgroups of these entities.
The fact that ANSI does not develop standards on its own per se comes as a surprise to many people who have heard the ANSI name and know what it stands for. However, the real role of ANSI is to oversee the activities of the entities in the United States that do develop standards. ANSI is involved in every point of the development of standards by other groups and entities, and it sets rules for the development of standards that will be worthy of ANSI accreditation. It also approves the final draft or version of products as American National Standards.
The main thing ANSI is concerned with when giving accreditation is how a standard was drafted, and whether it was open for public review and comment. Any comments a standard-making entity receives must be resolved before ANSI will grand approval and accreditation to the standards. When ANSI accreditation is given, it is good for five years. At that point, the standard-making entity must re-apply for new accreditation. If the entity does not re-apply, ANSI accreditation will be withdrawn.
Hallmark Nameplate meets ANSI standards for accreditation and is proud to keep up its accreditation.