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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)​

​​​A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. It is developed by a technical committee made up of
experts from all the relevant stakeholders, including producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service.
Put simply, a standard is an agreed, repeatable way of doing something. It is a published document that contains a technical specification or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently as a rule, guideline, or definition. Standards help to make life simpler and to increase the reliability and the effectiveness of many goods and services we use. Standards are created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties. Published SANS standards can be purchased from SABS at the SABS Webstore​ ​
How are standards made?

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​Standards are designed for voluntary use and do not impose any regulations. However, laws and regulations may refer to certain standards and make compliance with them compulsory.

Any standard is a collective work. Committees of manufacturers, users, research organisations, government departments and consumers work together to draw up standards that evolve to meet the demands of society and technology. SABS Standards' staff act as secretaries to these committees and project manage the production of standards. Crucial to this process are 450 technical committees and subcommittees that are responsible for developing standards. At present, more than 6100 standards are maintained by the Standards Division and new standards are developed at a rate of approximately 250 per annum.​

What are the benefits of standards?

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Standards have become such integral components of our economic, social and legal systems that they are frequently taken for granted and their crucial role in a modern society is often not recognised. 

The SABS Standards Division has more than sixty years of experience in its core function, namely, the development of national standards and maximising the benefits of international standards through adoptions, which enhances the competitiveness of the South African industry and advances international trade. 

In South Africa, our standards enhance competitiveness and provide the basis for consumer protection, health and safety.​

Consumer Benefits

  • Standards ensure that consumers are protected from hazards to their health and safety. 
  • Standards promote and protect economic interests of consumers. 
  • Standards ensure that consumers have easier access to, and greater choice of, goods and services. 
  • Standards ensure improved quality and reliability. 
  • Standards ensure better operation and compatibility between products and services. 
  • Standards ensure the availability of effective consumer redress. 

Industry Benefits

  • Standards lower installation and start-up costs.
  • Standards inspire added trust in your business.
  • Standards assist businesses to meet mandatory regulations.
  • Standards ensure improved quality and reliability.
  • ​Standards create a competitive advantage by improving the quality of your goods and services.
  • Standards open new markets by assuring new customers that you meet their quality requirements.
  • Standards attract new customers.
  • Standards reduce cost in the way you do business.

Government Benefits​

  • Standards benefit the South African Government by complementing regulations and promoting international trade. 
  • Standards reduce technical barriers to international trade, thus positioning South African industries to compete in the world economy. 
  • Standards are used to regulate and monitor industry to prevent adverse business practices. 
  • Standards help make laws consistent. 
  • Standards offer an alternative to regulation, with less red tape and business costs, while still ensuring that products and services are safe and healthy. 
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What is an International Standard?​

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​An International Standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials,products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. It is developed at an international level by an international committee to be used by any, if not all, international countries. ISO has published over 21000 International Standards that can be purchased from the ISO store or from the SABS Web store​.

International standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimising waste and errors, and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade.

International standards are harmonised i​​nternationally by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).​​

How can I get involved?

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​SABS actively seeks to bring together all those with significant interest in particular projects. Representations are sought from many spheres including: consumer organisations; professional institutions; certification, testing and inspection bodies; educational establishments; research organisations; enforcement bodies and government departments.

SABS also works with trade organisations as a means of representing most standards users in business. This enables a wide measure of consultation and support in standards work.

All participation is on a voluntary basis, and you can be involved in helping to develop standards by becoming a Committee member. To see a list of committees, together with their Strategic Policy Statement, click here​.  

You do not have to log in to do this.
To request membership to a committee, download the form and complete it as comprehensively as possible and email it to SABS eCommittee Helpdesk​ 

What is the process to follow when there is need for a new standard?​​

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​Any stakeholder can propose a new standard (download form below).

  • The proposal may be rejected if in conflict with legislation, or returned for more information
  • Or it maybe allocated to a relevant committee
  • Or may lead to establishment of new committee
  • The proposer may be:
    • advised of an existing or a standard under development elsewhere, or
    • requested to convene a Working Group.

Download a proposal form here.
Fill the form in as comprehensively as possible and email it to SABS eCommittee Helpdesk ​

 Content Link boxes

Participate in the Process

Become a member of the SABS technical committees and contribute to development of national standards either as a professional, organisation or representative of government.

Read more

Propose a Standard

Standards are found in virtually every aspect of our daily lives, from the towering sky scraper, the cars that we drive, electronics we use and the houses we live in.

Read more