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Why Adopt IEC Standards for the US?

Why are there so few product groups within the electroindustry that are willing to embrace the concept of adopting IEC standards for use in the USA?  Of course the actions necessary to successfully and competently accomplish such an adoption are not simplistic.  Most likely, it would be necessary to tackle the task in small pieces, starting with reorganization of any existing US document into the same format and content sequence as the IEC standard.  This would permit a line-by-line comparison of the two documents, identifying which material is in the US document but not in the IEC and, conversely, what requirements are in the IEC document but not in the US.  Then a decision process must be initiated to determine whether the differences are consequential.   In addition, decisions need to be made on whether to accept the IEC requirements or to maintain enforcement of the existing US specifications.  Only then can a harmonized document be initiated and proposed outside of the task force charged with the initial development.
But isn't the effort worth it?  Some would say no because it could expand access to the US marketplace to foreign firms.  The foreign firms would no longer necessarily need to make a product specifically for compliance with the unique US requirements.  However, if the US document were not designated an American National Standard, a foreign firm would just need to convince a distributor that their product was sufficiently safe, or maybe just cheap enough, to place on the US market.  Since the vast majority of products only need to comply with voluntary standards in the US, these products do not come under federal regulatory oversight.  By adopting an IEC standard, perhaps the best of both worlds can be achieved by nearly forcing the establishment of a minimum set of requirements that meet the concerns for the US marketplace.

Posted 01-09-2008 12:40 PM by Gettman, Kenneth

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