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Legal Standing of British Standards

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:49 pm
by Safetyrail
Good evening all,

I've been on a course recently and the Tutor stated that a British Standard was a guidance note and had not legal basis in Law.

I was always under the impression that a BS could be as good or better than an ACOP?

What do you think?

SR

Re: Legal Standing of British Standards

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:57 pm
by Lyle
If you comply with a British Standard then it’s pretty clear that you take your responsibilities seriously as an organization, and indeed compliance is often taken as evidence of due diligence. It certainly speaks volumes about your attitudes to doing things properly.

However, standards aren’t the same as regulations and following a standard doesn’t guarantee that you’re within the relevant laws. In fact standards rarely cite the law as legislation could change within the lifetime of the standard

Re: Legal Standing of British Standards

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:27 pm
by bernicarey
Basic facts

British Standards generally have no basis in Law. There are some limited exceptions, which I will give example of in a moment.

They are not a 'guidance note' note as your tutor state; they are a National Standard for a particular product category or type of item. Just as UL in the USA, or TUV in Germany.

They are recognised by the Courts as 'Best Practice', because they are a high benchmark; they are not an ACoP, because that is a 'layman's guide' to the legalese of the relevant statute.

Now, back to the exceptions I spoke of. There are some, though not many compared to the overall number of BS, but a couple that come to mind are :

The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 - this specifies what Plugs/Sockets are to be used for certain equipments (it's the law that means when you buy a new electrical appliance, with few exceptions in WILL have a plug fitted already). It specifies the various BS for connectors.


The Safety Signs Regulations 1980 used to specify BS signs, but was replaced by The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 - which illustrates signs, without actually quoting a BS for them. Which is a good job, since the standards change more frequently than the regulations ;) .
But, they do refer off to BS for additional hand signals for crane operations.


So in summary, generally not Law, though sometimes they are, but definitely seen as the Best Practice Benchmark by the Courts. .salut

Lyle wrote: In fact standards rarely cite the law as legislation could change within the lifetime of the standard
I can't think of any reason why a BS would quote a statute, but as I've shown, it sometimes works the other way around. There's more chance, IMHO, of a BS being revised within the lifetime of the statute.

Re: Legal Standing of British Standards

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:15 am
by Messy
bernicarey wrote:Basic facts

British Standards generally have no basis in Law.
.
Top post Bernicarey, but try telling that to the over enthusiastic/jobsworth fire inspectors who sometimes get confused about the status of a BS and may get very twitchy when it comes to applying a variation :(

Re: Legal Standing of British Standards

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:27 pm
by Safetyrail
Wonderful, thank you for the replies.

I knew there was some gray in there and not just black and white.

Funny really because on the CITB test for the course it was one of the questions and the correct answer for the test was that British Standards are guidance notes. Just goes to show even the industry bodies can get it wrong.

SR