The Business of Standards



Katharine E. Morgan

At times during the past few months, it has felt as though our entire world was coming to a screeching halt. But in that time, I’ve learned that the business of standards never stops. Together we have met many challenges and continued in our efforts to showcase ASTM International as a global standards leader. 

As I mentioned in my last president’s message, in the early days of the pandemic, global reports emerged regarding shortages of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) items such as masks, gowns, and gloves. These shortages impacted ASTM International because the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other national authorities worldwide recommend that manufacturers of these life-saving PPE products meet ASTM standards. 

We recognized an opportunity to support production and advance quality and safety in the global supply chain by swiftly making a suite of nearly 30 key PPE standards available for the public to view and download at no cost.

Mobilizing our Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence network, our Memorandum of Understanding partners, and our offices and staff in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Peru, we took steps to make sure manufacturers, regulators, and public health organizations worldwide were aware of the collection of no-cost ASTM standards available to assist them. 

From April to June, I am pleased to share that we have had roughly 100,000 visits to our COVID-19 resource page and 33,000 clickthroughs to our PPE standards by individuals in 117 countries. And likes, retweets, and other actions on social media have resulted in over 112,000 impressions. Thank you to everyone who has used their own platform to amplify our outreach. 

And while I am proud of the ASTM staff team that made this happen, I also want to thank our volunteer members. Our outreach action has generated many technical questions that PPE experts on ASTM technical committees had to consider and respond to. We couldn’t have done it without them. 

We are even starting to see more ASTM standards development activities around the cleaning and re-use of PPE, as well as emerging testing issues. You can read all about new COVID-related standards activities HERE

But we’re not just seeing COVID-related standards actions. Although all in-person meetings from March through August have been canceled, the committees have been quite busy. More than 85% of our committees have used virtual meetings and many are using a combination of virtual meetings and ballots to resolve negatives. In fact, standards actions are tracking in line with 2019. 

With that in mind, we developed a new video to highlight all the work our members are coordinating virtually. It’s called “The Business of Standards,” and you can find it on our homepage or social media channels. Watch closely, you might even see yourself! 

From an operations standpoint, our staff has been well-positioned for remote work, and there has been no drop-off in the functionality or support they provide our members, partners, and other stakeholders. As some of you may know, the area surrounding our global headquarters was hard hit by COVID-19, and we’re still working towards reopening. We’ve developed our own re-entry plan for the building and are slowly moving forward to ensure a safe and strategic return to building operations. We’re also in the middle of renovating our global headquarters and I’m happy to share that construction has resumed and is moving along quite well. 

As you can see, the business of standards never stops. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our global membership, partners, staff, and more, I know our actions have assisted the worldwide PPE supply chain and made a meaningful difference in safeguarding healthcare workers. Thank you all for meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19 and showcasing the dedication and resilience of our global ASTM International community.

Katharine E. Morgan
President, ASTM International

Issue Month: 
July/August
Issue Year: 
2020