Price of AS/NZS Standards
Last week the Safety Institute of Australia
issued a call
for Australian and international standards to be made available free to Australian businesses.
The SIA noted that the distribution of Standards in Australia was privatised 15 years ago (whereas Standards New Zealand is part of MBIE).
A couple of sample prices from the Standards New Zealand website:
(Safety of machinery in 22 parts) is priced at $2213+GST as a PDF or $2459+GST as hard copy.
AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018
(Occupational health and safety management systems) is priced at $94.50+GST as a PDF or $105+GST as hard copy.
How often have you hesitated in purchasing a health & safety-related Standard due to the price?
Often. It's a real investment and you can only read a small excerpt before buying. And once bought, there are the limitations of only having one saved copy and one hard-copy. And it's only valid till it's reviewed again.
Even larger organisations balk at the cost of standards.
It would be nice for them to be free but cost of development does have to be recouped somehow, though. Even via MBIE it still comes back in terms of taxation - some of the very expensive ones are pretty specialist and a user pays model probably appears appropriate.
Perhaps there is a halfway house where generally applicable standards are free, including any that are referenced directly in legislation, and more specialist ones come with a fee?
I agree that they should be free, especially the broader standards. Only one company I have worked for had relatively easy access to these, despite being referenced in company literature. I know a lot of work goes into them but what is the point if no one uses them. Maybe money from WorkSafe prosecutions could help fund them?
I agree the cost of standards is sometimes pretty steep and (as the NZISM representative on two joint standards committees) often wonder where the money goes. Committee members are all volunteers and we pay our own expenses (unless someone else is willing to pay them). When a standard is published we get one free hard copy and electronic copy for our personal use.
Over the last year there has been a battle about who pays for adoption of ISO and IEC standards when they are proposed to be joint standards. MBIE started off wanting someone to sponsor such adoption. Things were getting farcical at one stage but there is now a chance that MBIE will pay.
In Australia, the private sector company that sells standards (SAIG) might be distressed if joint standards were made free of charge but they also earn money by selling other documents and providing consultancy services. Standards Australia is funded by the federal government.
International standards are copyright ISO and/or IEC. The IEC dependability standards are important but few people buy them, perhaps because of cost?
When running training courses I always reference the relevant standards and, in 2019, will be cross referencing to the common structure of management systems standards set out in Annex SL. These include ISO45001, ISO9001 and ISO14001. Annex SL is free but you need to know where to find it.
I should stop here: this is making me depressed!
This has bothered me for years! Placing a high cost on access to information puts an unnecessary impediment in place for businesses wanting to do better. It's stupid.
If you hold some form of Electrical Registration and a current Practicing License, you can access some Electrical Standards via a subscription that the Electrical Workers Registration Board has with Standards NZ, this is paid for by part of the 2 yearly fee for a PL.
Perhaps other industry/associations do provide, or could provide a similar service for their members.It is unfair that gaining access to a particular Standard can only be done by paying a fee, when compliance with it is mandated in a piece of legislation.
Port Appliance Test & Tag
For a start - of course they shouldn't be free. Nothing in this world is free.
And really price isn't the issue. $94.50 bucks for a Standard that promises so much: "provides a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains. Designed to help organisations of all sizes and industries, this standard is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses around the world."
And if I'm spending $250,000 on a machine then $2,213 to get a "series provides designers, manufacturers, suppliers, employers and users of machinery with guidelines to help reduce the risks of working with, or near, machinery. This set contains each standard as an individual document." doesn't seem like much.
Cost isn't the issue. Its the risk if you get it wrong and having a Standard in your possession.
I'm a fan of "Less is Best".
Much better to get hanged by Worksafe for not knowing (and arguing cost of Standard is not proportional to risks identified and managed at the time - particularly when compared with Worksafes own information) rather than having all that information on site and at hand and not following each clause / sub clause.
I used to get annoyed at the cost of standards, especially when businesses are supposed to use them as the 'standard' for their operations but then I looked at it from a practical view.
If I have a query about say, how to guard a piece of plant, is it easier and more productive to;
a) Google specific guarding - in which case 9/10 times a WorkSafe Fact sheet, ACOP or guideline will appear and I can get on with the job, or
b) Ring the relevant WorkSafe inspector and ask them for advice, or
c) Read through and try to interpret the set of approximately 22 standards relating to machine guarding and then find out that there was an update somewhere along the line that I missed...
As is often discussed on here: paper is no use if it can't be used purposefully.
The costs charged here are ridiculous and at times unjustifiable. A European standard that I use (NZ/AS has none on this subject) would cost me NZ$600 if I buy it via NZ standards, the same standard bought from overseas costs NZ$15. How can the cost be so vastly different when it is the same document. Maybe time that NZ Standards were called to account re price gouging.
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