STANDARDS

"Wait and see" is one philosophy of life. "Suggest, participate and codetermine" is another.

We at GRABNER prefer the second alternative. This is particularly the case with standards for water sports products. Our principle is to be actively involved, to contribute our knowledge and experience.

For this reason, GRABNER staff are always present when it is a question of the reasonable design of products and their standardization. I.e., when it concerns standards that set the direction for function, practical use and safety.

What are standards?

The internationally recognized definition of a standard is: "A document drawn up by consent and accepted by a recognized institution, laying down rules and guidelines for general and recurring application, the aim being to achieve an optimum degree of order in a given context.

Standards should be based on established results of science, technology and experience and on the promotion of optimum benefits for society." (quoted from European Standard EN 45020:1991/3.2)

An example: Buoyancy aids and lifejackets are personal protection equipment (PPE) Category 2.
For this PPE Category 2, a type inspection by an approved testing institute is prescribed as compulsory. In order to determine compliance with the regulations for PPE, the testing institutions can for instance use the relevant EN standards (EN 393, EN 395, EN 396).

Are standards binding?

Fundamentally, standards are based on the voluntary principle. Generally, their application is recommended, but there are many benefits that argue in favor of using them. Standardization and standards, however, also mean a significant step towards legal certainty - in the fields of both public and civil law.

Thus the Austrian legislature is making increasing reference to the technical expertise as contained in standards, particularly when it is a question of regulating technical material at legislative level. At present, 970 standards have been declared binding in Austria by federal or provincial legislation. The contents of these standards have thus become part of the laws and regulations. In civil law, moreover, contracting partners can make standards part of the contents of the contract, such as for the purpose of satisfying technical requirements.

European standards may also be of a legal nature. This is the case if they have been prepared by the CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, on the basis of an instruction from the EU Commission. In its new approach, the EU only lays down in its directives the fundamental requirements that the products must satisfy if they are to be put into circulation. These Directives are implemented by reference to the European Standards.

Thus the relevant European Standardization Organizations (CEN, CENELEC or ETSI) are entrusted with the function of preparing the standards required by manufacturers and the trade, for instance, so that the goods or products can satisfy the fundamental requirements of the Directives.
Even if these standards have no obligatory character whatsoever, the administrations are nevertheless obliged to assume that products manufactured according to such standards satisfy the fundamental requirements of the Directive. This means that, although the manufacturer has the possibility of not manufacturing according to the standard, nevertheless in such as case he must provide prove that his products satisfy the Directive.

What are European Standards?

European Standards (EN) are standards that are valid as national standards as a matter of principle in all Member States of the CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation), to which the standardization institutes of all EU and EFTA countries belong.

Where in the past up to 18 different standards, and sometimes even different technical legal regulations (e.g. laws) acted as an obstacle to the movement of goods and services, this trade is facilitated or indeed only made possible today thanks to European Standards.

The European Standards are prepared and updated in the Technical Committees (TCs) of the CEN. In these Technical Committees, delegates from the relevant specialist circles of the national standardization bodies work together. Once agreement has been reached, these standards must as a matter of principle be adopted in all national standards regulations.

National standards that conflict with European Standards must be revoked in order to guarantee the uniformity of European Standards.

What are international standards?

International standards is the term used to refer to standards prepared by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) based in Geneva. Unlike European Standards, there is no obligation to adopt international standards as national standards.