Concerns remain on proposed ISO standards for Respiratory Protective Devices

April 14, 2014

Most countries confirmed their dissatisfaction with the work undertaken by the International Standards Organisation ISO aimed at developing international standards for Respiratory Protective Devices (RPD).

Following the rejection of the second Committee Draft version of the standards ISO 17420-1/2, ISO conveyed a plenary meeting in Tokyo to review the negative comments received and evaluate a way forward for the proposed standards.

Despite the good intention by the proposers of the standards, most countries voiced their concerns about the inadequacy of several technical specifications. Some of the most compelling unresolved issues are the excessive cost of certification, the too complex classification system and the immaturity of several testing methods that have not yet been validated by any laboratory worldwide.

What seems unreasonable to many European commentators is that the EU has established a well functioning set of EN norms that ensure high levels of safety for users and guarantee tradability of products within the EU borders. Moreover, while the EN norms’ requirements are sufficiently high to deter imports of unsafe products from China and other Far East manufacturers, European products are accepted in most regions of the world since EN norms are a recognised guarantee of high quality and safety.

Instead the proposed ISO standards, while they create serious concerns among manufacturers and users, do not have the buy in of most countries worldwide.

In light of decision in the Tokyo meeting, ISO will try its last chance to publish its standards before the all project must be halted. A third Committee Draft will be developed trying to address the concerns raised. In order to meet the deadline set by ISO rules for October 2014, when the proposed standards shall be submitted again to vote, two more meetings have exceptionally been set, one in Germany and one again in Tokyo.

Under these conditions, the ISO project becomes more and more ambitious. Will the standard drafters be able in such short time to improve the standards enough to solve the concerns expressed by the majority of the countries?

©2013 by SME Safety