It’s now been more than 30 years since I first learned about standards, in the form of the Ontario Electrical Code. I was studying electricity and electronics in high school, and Steve Struk, the Electricity Teacher at Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga, introduced us to the rules. My first encounter with international standards was 25 years ago, when I was tasked with doing some environmental stress testing using a thermal, humidity and vibration chamber at Hammond Manufacturing in Guelph. Standards were, and are, an important part of engineering and technology, and they play increasingly important roles in business and occupational health and safety. Writing standards takes time. Lots of time. That time has to be provided by interested people and organizations who recognize the value that standards bring to their work and their businesses. Most people involved in standards committees are “paid volunteers”, meaning that they are volunteering their time, but their employers are paying them for the time they spend engaged in standards work. Some, like me, are true volunteers, where the time spent on standards work is given without any compensation except the knowledge that we are contributing some small part to making Canada a better place to live and work.
So why should you get involved in standards work? A recent SCC communiqué said it very well:
“SCC’s membership in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provides Canadian business, government and consumer stakeholders with the opportunity to sit at the table of global experts making the rules that will then dictate the global trade agenda within their field. As a member of a committee developing an international standard, Canada becomes part of a community of national experts creating the standard they need, and can benefit greatly through greater involvement in the development process.
As a member on a technical committee at ISO or IEC, a business can influence the future of its market, get early access to cutting edge information and define its competitive environment internationally. Simply put: participation in international standards development provides Canadians with an opportunity to influence a document that could affect their lives or business in the future.”
Getting involved in standards writing is rewarding, challenging, work. Getting involved gives you a chance to contribute your knowledge and expertise to Canada’s future, and provides an “…opportunity to influence a document that could affect their lives or business in the future.”
Get involved. Contribute. It’s worth it!