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In this Edition

CEO Report

Australia continues to respond to the challenges of COVID-19, with many industries and community sectors managing massive disruption. At Standards Australia we have worked quickly at facilitating standards development remotely and adapting our processes so we can continue our core business of supporting industry, government and the wider Australian community.

The resilience and cooperation exhibited by the Australian people at the beginning of 2020 while responding to the bushfire crisis is again on show as we face this next challenge. It is encouraging to see so many Australian businesses and public sector organisations respond quickly to address urgent requirements of the health care sector.

Factories once making high-end clothing are now developing face masks and companies once making gin are now shifting to manufacturing hand sanitiser. To support this effort, earlier this month we released directory material for Australian manufacturers; this document is intended to help manufacturers find information on relevant standards, such as respiratory protection, surgical masks and gloves, quickly and effectively.

This month we also supported the #flattenthecurvehack, an exciting event in which teams brainstormed and developed solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. Winners included a 3D-printed adjustable face-shield and a new platform called ‘Class Party’ which provides a virtual reality learning experience for school children learning from home.

Hopefully, many of the ideas and solutions that came out of the event will be able to assist Australia and the world deal with current challenges. The #flattenthecurvehack is another instance of individuals and organisations working together and thinking outside the square to achieve practicable outcomes during this crisis – we are proud to have been involved.

In conjunction with continued standards development and collaboration across our thirteen sectors, the directory material and hackathon are just two examples of the different solutions and initiatives Standards Australia has actioned in an effort to effectively support industry, government and individuals during the COVID-19 crisis.

While we adjust to this new reality as a nation, Standards Australia is committed to continued productivity and effectiveness. I look forward to working with many of you in the months to come as we search for innovative solutions to the challenges 2020 is presenting.

—Adrian O'Connell, Chief Executive

A clear path for Australian manufacturers in the fight against COVID-19

Businesses looking to manufacture essential products have been given a helping hand with potential Australian-based testing and certification capabilities identified.

In addition to earlier guidance provided by Standards Australia identifying potentially relevant standards to manufacturers, this material prepared in consultation with the Australian Technical Infrastructure Alliance is a more detailed map of possible ways to get the gloves, masks, and surgical gowns from the warehouse to the frontline using Australian facilities.

Read more in our media release.

Easing pressure on our health system

At a time of great challenge for our national health system, amidst the crisis of COVID-19, the use of phone-based health services across Australia has been front and centre for a lot of people. To support consistency and confidence in the provision of health services over the phone, Standards Australia is encouraging those in the sector to look to AS 5205:2019, Australian Health Contact Centres, to assist our health system across Australia.

Read more in our media release.

Getting access to AS 3959:2018

AS 3959:2018, Construction in bushfire prone areas is now available at no cost through our distributors SAI Global and Techstreet. At Standards Australia we are proud to be able to offer this standard, alongside the Commonwealth Government, to assist the communities of Australia.

We encourage those rebuilding to download the document which will be available at no cost until June 2021. Please note to access the standard at no cost you must select the PDF option.

Plumbing industry faces flow on effect of COVID-19

An increase in the purchase of bidet products, which can help reduce toilet paper use, has seen the ACCC outline the dangers of individuals trying to install products themselves. Australia's independent consumer authority has reminded consumers these products should be certified through the WaterMark Certification Scheme and installed by a professional plumber.

Read more in our media release.

Facilitating faster project completions through TGR

In just one of many responses to our Technical Governance Review (TGR) we have introduced Technical Writers and Committee Facilitators as specialised resources for committees with large, complex or contentious work programs. This change means we can deliver the net benefit of projects more quickly by publishing in shorter timeframes.

In a recent example, Standards Australia Technical Writer, Louise Hodgins was assigned to the revision of a complex standard as alongside technical changes, the existing standard was to be split into three parts. This combination is normally difficult to deliver on schedule however, Professor David Eager, Chairperson of the relevant committee said, “The drafting of the three parts of AS 2316.1 has been improved immensely by having a dedicated Technical Writer involved from the get-go.

”There has been similar feedback from other committees working through difficult issues and complex documents who have utilised these resources.

At Standards Australia we are pleased to see the benefit of our TGR being realised and improving the effectiveness of our hard-working committees. A list of the projects currently underway is available on the Technical Governance Review Implementation Plan for FY 2020. You can also read about our progress in our latest quarterly report.

Smart standards for smarter cities

The adoption of three international smart cities standards is an exciting step forward for the future of Australian cities and regional towns.

The last few months, more than ever, have shown us cities and the larger Australian and International communities are facing varied challenges including, but not limited to, environmental changes, economic instability and population growth. These standards intend to provide clear criteria for cities to measure and compare their strengths and weaknesses in facing these challenges.

You can find out more about the adopted standards and the work of Standards Australia in this space in our recent blog update.

In conversation with Greg Ryan

Greg is the Director Business Excellence at the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA). He has been with the Association for just over 6 years with oversight of all programs related to enhancing the business delivery to customers including asset management, digital, people and capability. Prior to working at WSAA, Greg worked for South East Water in Melbourne for over 13 years, and has a background in operations, management and strategic planning.

A key aspect of the work at WSAA is industry collaboration to develop clear guidance documents and codes, along with being a nominating organisation for development of standards relevant to the water sector. We use these documents to drive consistency and innovation in the industry and ensure the longevity and safety of installed products.

Standards Australia (SA): How long have you been involved in standards development?

Greg Ryan (GR): I have only been directly involved in standards development since starting at WSAA, so just over six years now.

SA: Is there a particular project or standard that sticks out to you?

GR: The key project that sticks out for me is the development of a national standard on products suitable for toilet flushing. It doesn’t sound very glamorous, however, the project has been very rewarding because it has involved developing a clear consensus among a diverse group of manufacturers, water utilities, consumer and manufacturer advocates and peak bodies. Through the process we have been able to achieve resolution on aspects which have been difficult to resolve overseas. I am quite pleased with how the Committee is able to work together to achieve an outcome that will provide greater benefit for the community.

SA: What is the role of standards in your sector?

GR: Standards apply to all aspects of a water utility’s operation including risk management, financial management and worker health and safety. They are particularly important for our infrastructure. The majority of our assets are buried within easements adjacent to customer properties. When they fail they can cause significant damage to property, inconvenience to customers and impact on the environment. Standards provide a level of confidence that installed products such as pipes, valves and meters are going to last and deliver the service required over their lifetime.

SA: With coronavirus affecting many industries across the country, what are some of the challenges facing the water and waste services sector?

GR: The initial challenge was ensuring the majority of staff were able to work effectively remotely, and that in doing so the workforce was not only safe but that their mental health was being looked after. Other challenges have been around social distancing and the need to undertake certain types of work such as lifting heavy objects or entering confined spaces, where the nature of the work means that social distancing can be impossible. This is combined with the current shortages of PPE such as face masks and hand sanitiser.

SA: What do you think is the future of standardisation?

GR: Standardisation provides a reliable means to confirm the durability and suitability of products for a given purpose. It is becoming more important for the water industry as we continue to lose local production capacity in areas such as steel manufacturing. This increases the amount of material sourced from overseas, placing more reliance on international standards. Hence a greater need for involvement in international mirror committees to support international standards development.

Separately, I see that there is an evolution coming in the way standards are developed, designed and presented. COVID-19 is expanding our view of what is possible through online collaboration, which hopefully will result in greater participation in standards development if there is less travel involved in meetings. But in the longer term the challenge is to make standards more relevant and easy to use for all. Some of the digital approaches are integrating images of a product or application with the relevant sections of particular standards. So that rather than reading the entirety of each standard it is possible to read only the relevant parts. This comes with challenges around creating context. However, it should hopefully increase engagement and the uptake of standards.

International update

Standards Australia represents Australia on the two major international standards development bodies, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Our activities are reported on our International Updates page.

Highlights from April (PDF)

  • Establishment of two technical committees: ISO/TC 327 Natural stones and ISO/TC 328 Engineered stones
  • A safer way to approach water rescue with new ISO guidelines
  • Proposal for a new field of technical activity on child care articles

Sector update

Access the latest standards development news in your industry sector via our Sectors page.

Drafts open for comment

The public comment process provides an opportunity for stakeholders and members of the public to make valuable contributions. View draft standards currently open for comment.

PEFC chain of custody standard: trademark and certification usage

The 2020 revisions to PEFC documents below are now available:

  • Chain of Custody Standard (ST 2002);
  • Trademark use rules (ST 2001);
  • Certification body requirements for Chain of Custody (ST 2003).

PEFC has provided a detailed guidance document on the new standards and logo usage rules.
In summary, the following will apply:

  • The 2013 version of the PEFC chain of custody standard ST 2002 remains in force until August 14. For PEFC C-o-C holders, they will have until this date to comply with the 2020 version. An audit to the new standard is required before certification to the 2020 version of the PEFC C-o-C standard will be granted.
  • Certification bodies must be accredited to the 2020 version prior to audits being performed.
  • Certification bodies need to add the 2020 version of the PEFC International Chain of Custody Standard to their scope of accreditation. This requirement requires more specific mandatory training that Responsible Wood can provide.