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Understanding ANSI, ASTM, FM, NFPA, SEI and UL
There are several non-governmental agencies that have a significant impact regarding standards in the safety industry. They are the American National Standards Institute, American Society for Testing and Materials, Factory Mutual, National Fire Protection Association, Safety Equipment Institute and Underwriters' Laboratories Inc.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Founded in 1918, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a nonprofit organization made up of over 1300 companies, 250 professional organizations and 30 government agencies. ANSI is funded by private membership designed to develop voluntary standards to make U.S. businesses competitive in the global market by providing standards from national and international sources.
These standards are developed with input from businesses in the specific industries where standards will be used. These standards are periodically updated to include changes in the industry and to add new information as it is discovered. ANSI standards affect several industries, including: safety and health, petroleum, banking and many others.
ANSI provides many resources and services to it's members, such as newsletters, participation in the standards writing procedure, and over 9,800 publications including standards from around the world.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
Organized in 1898, The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is a nonprofit organization with over 130 committees, made up of product producers, users and government officials, formed to write voluntary consensus standards. With no formal testing or research facility, research is done by the more than 33,000 ASTM members. With no formal testing or research facility, research is done by the more than 33,000 ASTM members.ASTM is funded mainly by the sale of its publications of more than 8,500 standards yearly in a 68-volume set.
ASTM develops six main types of standards:
Factory Mutual (FM)
Established in 1835, Factory Mutual (FM) currently has 17 district offices throughout North America with consultants specializing in loss control. These consultants visit and analyze facilities, write an inspection report and sometimes return for an unscheduled audit to ensure that all safety regulations are being adhered to.
Scientists and engineers at their Norwood, Massachusetts, facility conduct testing to investigate various fire situations and ways to reduce loss. They also conduct third-party testing on fire extinguishers, sprinklers, combustion safeguards, building materials, smoke detectors and many other products. The FM testing laboratory is recognized by OSHA.
As part of the third-party certification, FM visits the facilities where products are made to be sure FM specifications are met and continual reviews are done to assure that the quality of the products is maintained. FM services also provide a 700-page guide which lists approved products, materials and services, and a training facility to help others understand loss control.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a nonprofit organization, with a voluntary membership, run by a 30-member Board of Directors, 147 professionals and 140 support people. NFPA's membership includes more than 60,000 people from over 70 countries, including fire fighters, health care professionals, insurance carriers and others.
NFPA's main focus is the development of over 280 consensus standards and codes including National Electric Code (NFPA 70), Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), and Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code (NFPA 30). Many of these standards are accepted by government organizations like OSHA.
Other services NFPA offers to its members are a variety publications such as the NFPA Journal, Fire News, and Fire Technology, and a library with one of the largest collections of fire safety materials available., They also hold two annual meetings and sponsors Fire Prevention Week every October.
Safety Equipment Institute (SEI)
Organized in 1981, The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) headquartered in Arlington, Virginia is a private, nonprofit organization with third-party certification programs to test a wide array of safety equipment.
Manufacturers of safety equipment voluntarily submit their products to be tested by SEI. SEI tests the products to see if they meet the specifications outlined in current standards set up by organizations like ANSI, NFPA and ASTM. SEI does the initial testing of the products and then conducts follow-up audits to ensure that the products remain up to code. Once a product is SEI approved, the manufacturer can place the SEI certification label on it.
SEI DOES NOT offer a warranty for the performance of the product, but having a product certified by SEI shows that the manufacturer is taking responsibility for producing a quality product. SEI publishes a certified product list showing which products meet their specifications.
Underwriters' Laboratories Inc. (UL)
Founded in 1894, Underwriters' Laboratories Inc. (UL) is a nonprofit organization that has become the leading third-party certifier of product safety in the United States. Over 40,000 manufacturers have more than 70,000 products inspected and tested by UL each year. Once these products are certified by UL, they are given the UL markone of America's best-known safety symbols.
UL tests home appliances, electric signs and lighting fixtures, fire-fighting equipment, and flammable liquid storage containers among other products. UL has published more than 600 standards, many of which have been accepted by ANSI.
The UL staff of more than 4,000 members includes engineers, laboratory technicians, field representatives and other safety professionals. UL conducts thousands of plant inspections worldwide to ensure that the products that wear the UL mark continue to meet their stringent standards. UL also provides non-proprietary product literature from products anywhere in the world, copies of its standards, and a directory of all products that bear the UL mark.