What Is ASTM International?
Organized in 1898, ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world. ASTM is a not-for-profit organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services. ASTM’s members, representing producers, users, consumers, government, and academia from over 100 countries, develop technical documents that are a basis for manufacturing, management, procurement, codes, and regulations.
These members belong to one or more committees, each of which covers a subject area such as steel, petroleum, medical devices, property management, consumer products, and many more. It is these committees that develop the more than 12,000 ASTM standards that can be found in the 77-volume Annual Book of ASTM Standards.
What is a standard?
As used in ASTM, a standard is a document that has been developed and established within the consensus principles of the organization and which meets the requirements of ASTM procedures and regulations. Full consensus standards are developed with the participation of all parties who have a stake in the standards’ development and/or use.
How and where are ASTM standards used?
ASTM standards are used by individuals, companies, and agencies around the world. Purchasers and sellers incorporate standards into contracts; scientists and engineers use them in their laboratories and offices; architects and designers use them in their plans; government agencies around the world reference them in codes, regulations, and laws; and many others refer to them for guidance.
ASTM standards are ?voluntary? in the sense that their use is not mandated by ASTM. However, government regulators often give voluntary standards the force of law by citing them in laws, regulations, and codes. In the United States, the relationship between private-sector standards developers and the public sector has been strengthened with the 1995 passage of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (Public Law 104-113). The Law requires government agencies to use privately developed standards whenever it is at all possible, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in formerly duplicative standards development efforts. There are countless notable uses of ASTM standards. A few of them include:
PetroleumTravelers on land and in the air are assured of the standard quality of the fuels they use wherever they go because of the myriad ASTM standards for petroleum recognized around the world.
The Environment Developers of commercial real estate can satisfy requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) using ASTM standards for environmental site assessments.
Sports and Recreational Equipment The incidence and severity of head injuries is reduced when consumers use bicycle helmets and other protective headgear manufactured to an ASTM specification.
STANDARDS DEVELOPED IN ASTM INTERNATIONAL
How is a new standards development activity initiated?
Generally, anyone who identifies a need for standardization can submit a written request to ASTM Headquarters. ASTM staff research the idea to assess if there is adequate interest in the field, to discover if parallel activities exist in other organizations, and to determine where the activity would appropriately fit within the ASTM structure. The staff of ASTM does not determine which standards should be developed.
ASTM standards development activities cover a wide range of technical and management areas. A sampling of recently formed technical committees gives an indication of ASTM’s broad scope:
- Committee E53 on Property Management Standards
- Committee F10 on Livestock, Meat and Poultry Evaluation
- Committee F35 on Compatibility of Machine Tool Components with Industrial Lubricants
- Committee F36 on Technology and Underground Utilities
How are ASTM standards developed?
Standards development work begins when members of an ASTM technical committee identify a need or other interested parties approach the committee. Task group members prepare a draft standard, which is reviewed by its parent subcommittee through a letter ballot. After the subcommittee approves the document, it is submitted concurrently to the main committee and the entire membership of ASTM.
All negative votes cast during the balloting process, which must include a written explanation of the voters’ objections, must be fully considered before the document can be submitted to the next level in the process. Final approval of a standard depends on concurrence by the ASTM Standing Committee on Standards that proper procedures were followed and due process was achieved.
How long does it take to develop an ASTM standard?
Depending on a committee’s commitment to timely development and approval, standards can take as little as six months to become full consensus standards. ASTM’s ever-evolving use of Internet technology offers its members increasing opportunities to get new high-quality, relevant standards into the marketplace as quickly as possible.
For the past several years, ASTM has been committed to the creation of a Digital Path that will digitize the contents of a standard from inception to publication. For example, Virtual Meetings combine teleconferencing with Internet document viewing and editing. Other resources such as electronic balloting, and the electronic distribution of meeting minutes, further facilitate timely response to industry needs, and aid members from around the world in participating without straining travel budgets.
Who governs ASTM’s standards development procedures?
ASTM’s governing body is its Board of Directors, which is elected by the entire membership. The Board and its Standing Committees have established procedures to ensure that standards are developed on a full consensus basis, that all dissenting parties receive due process, and that all ASTM standards follow style and format requirements. The Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees and the manual, Form and Style for ASTM Standards, are among the documents that govern the ASTM standards development process.
ASTM INTERNATIONAL'S MEMBERS
Who develops ASTM standards?
ASTM has over 30,000 members from more than 100 countries around the world who are producers, users, consumers, and general interest parties, such as academicians and government representatives. These members write ASTM standards through their service on one or more of ASTM’s 130-plus technical committees.It is these members who determine which standards development activities to pursue. Anyone who has interest in the field covered by a committee’s scope is eligible to become a committee member.
How often do committees meet?
Each ASTM committee determines its own meeting schedule; most meet twice a year. Today, with the aid of technology, a good deal of standards development work takes place between meetings online through e-mail, and Virtual Meetings. See the material under How long does it take to develop an ASTM standard? for more information on this.
How do I become a member of ASTM?
Simply contact ASTM International Headquarters at +1 610/832-9500 or visit www.astm.org. Informational and participating memberships cost $75; organizational membership is $400.
ASTM AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT
What makes ASTM an international standards developing organization?
From its inception, ASTM’s method of developing standards has been based on consensus without borders. ASTM’s process ensures that interested individuals and organizations representing academia, industry, product users, and governments alike all have an equal vote in determining a standard’s content. Participants are welcome from anywhere on the globe. Further, ASTM’s high quality standards are responsive and relevant to the needs of the global marketplace. More than 40 percent of ASTM’s standards are sold outside of the United States.
Does ASTM meet criteria for organizations that develop international standards?
ASTM meets all the basic criteria for an international standards developing organization as outlined in Annex 4 of the Triennial Review of the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (WTO/TBT). Both the U's. National Standards Strategy and the WTO/TBT state that international standardization can be more effective through the support of sector-driven standards and observance of basic principles of standards development. In line with these documents, ASTM’s standards development process:
- Reaches decisions through the consensus
of those affected
- Allows open participation by all affected stakeholders
- Maintains a balance among competing interests
- Facilitates transparency by making information directly available
- Ensures due process by considering all views and allowing appeals
- Supports flexibility by allowing the use of different approaches
- Encourages timeliness by avoiding administrative delays
- Maximizes coherency by avoiding overlap or conflict
ACCESS TO STANDARDS
How do I obtain an ASTM standard?
An online search of more than 11,000 ASTM standards enables you to locate ASTM standards in dozens of industrial, management, and other areas. Available on the ASTM Web site (www.astm.org select Search), this function facilitates searches by keyword or standard numbers; you can see the titles and scopes of all ASTM standards and the documents referenced in each standard. You can also purchase any standard as a PDF download immediately or place an order through Customer Service at ASTM International (+1 610/832-9585).
How is ASTM funded?
Approximately 75% of ASTM’s income is derived from the sale of publications, primarily from standards. Other income is derived from annual administrative fees, and standards-related programs.
Does ASTM certify products or grant a seal of approval?
What certification services does ASTM offer?
The ASTM Board of Directors in October, 2009 authorized the ASTM management to move forward and develop the capability to offer ASTM Certification Programs for products (material, products, systems and services) and personnel. The offering of certification programs as a part of ASTM's portfolio of services is similar to our successful proficiency testing and training programs.
ASTM will not be developing certification programs for an individual organization but will be developing industry wide certification programs. At this time, ASTM has not developed any certification programs. As programs are developed, they will be posted on the ASTM website on the certification page.
Does ASTM provide other testing services?
ASTM does not have any testing facilities to accommodate requests for one-off testing of products. An organization which desires to have their product tested for conformance to an ASTM standard could do the required testing in their own laboratory or contract the services of an independent third party laboratory. The Directory of Laboratories on the ASTM website may be helpful. Note: ASTM has not attempted to investigate, rate, endorse, approve or certify any laboratory listed in the directory. Each laboratory has paid ASTM a fee for their listing.
Can an organization indicate that their product conforms to an ASTM standard?
Participants in ASTM certification programs will be provided detailed instructions for indicating compliance and an ASTM certification logo based on the scope of the certification program.
When there is not an ASTM certification program, the Society, in general, does not object if an organization does their own testing/verification and represents that their product meets the ASTM standard by referencing the specific designation (e.g. complies or meets ASTM A XXX-YY) (and, where possible, the title of the relevant standard). In this instance, Society logos shall not appear in connection with such representation and there shall be no suggestion the Society approves or agrees with the representation. The Society does not approve, certify or test products or their conformity to ASTM standards unless there is a specific ASTM certification program.
Does ASTM certify laboratories?
No, ASTM does not certify or accredit laboratories.
Are ASTM standards copyrighted?
Yes. See the Intellectual Property Policy, available on the ASTM homepage at www.astm.org or request a copy from Headquarters at +1 610/832-9500.
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