A Brief History of ISO Standards

When parameters and standards are not clear, it can be difficult for countries and businesses to work with each other to determine what is fair. When it comes to standards and setting standards, the more guidelines there are to follow, the more transparent, reliable, and measurable products, services, and experiences can be. ISO, which is a derivative of the Greek word “isos” and means “equal,” was first established in 1926 as the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations. It later became the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) that we know today in 1947, but the acronym ISO is not commonly used because of translation issues and misnaming.

Organizations come to follow ISO standards on a voluntary basis. Countries from all over the world have their own way of classifying standards, but they are equal to those of other countries around the world. Each country has a committee that oversees the standardization process and ensures compliance for any organization that comes into the programs.

In order for something to become “standard” a committee must vote on what is important, what needs to be considered and included, and what can be left out. This process includes six stages involving proposal, preparatory, committee, and Draft International Standards. From there, the inquiry stage requires 75% consensus on the standard to move on to the Final Draft International Standards, where it will need 75% approval ratings to move to publication.

Under this system, over 21,000 standards have been approved and published around the world and in 162 countries. There are about 130 people who work at ISO on a full-time basis at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The first standard wasn’t published until 1951, and it focused on standard reference temperature for geometrical product specification and verification.

The ISO Journal, which was first published in 1952 informed of new standards and committees that are working toward standardization around the world. Since its inception, ISO committees have worked with developing countries to provide support and standardization for goods and services.

If an organization wants to become ISO certified in their country of origin, they will need to work with a third party provider who is licensed to oversee a certification. Although ISO does create and oversee standards, they do not actually provide certification services. Organizations should work with certifying bodies that are accredited and follow CASCO standards.

Interestingly enough, ISO has many complaints about organizations misusing or misrepresenting certifications around the world. This is due to a lack of understanding on the certified organization’s part as to what needs to be displayed and how it should be displayed. Many organizations, from lawn care to health care, opt for ISO certification because it helps them create and maintain standards that are seen as credible and reliable to customers.

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