Product standards set out the minimum requirements and/or criteria products must meet for specific uses or applications. Product standards, as used in the plumbing industry, are usually voluntary, national-consensus standards. Such standards are vital to the industry because they usually serve as the basis for both code requirements and proof of compliance, i.e. conformity assessment (3rd party certification) criteria. Voluntary, national, consensus standards form the regulatory basis for the acceptance and use of most plumbing products.
Standards are voluntary only from the standpoint that once they are adopted as an ANSI or an ASTM standard, for example, they do not automatically become part of the formal regulatory process. This occurs only when a governmental jurisdiction (state, county, city, special district) adopts such a standard as an enforceable, legal requirement. Standards also cease to be voluntary when a specifier requires compliance with such a standard as part of a bid request, or when a buyer uses such a standard as the basis for a contract with a seller.
Standards within the plastic pipe and fittings industry scope of interest are normally national in that they are recognized and have applicability across the nation. This recognition is vital to manufacturers because it provides some assurance of consistency among regulatory authorities referencing these standards for compliance purposes.
Consensus as used here primarily refers to a method or a process, not just to a definition. The consensus process is a means by which a standard achieves general agreement among all materially affected parties. It means far more than a "mere majority."
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