Machine Safety: How do I know that a consensus standard has been updated?

At almost every Machine Safety Seminar I hear someone ask: “How do I know that a consensus standard has been updated?”


At almost every Machine Safety Seminar I hear someone ask- “how do I know that a consensus standard has been updated”?


Unfortunately, in my opinion, there is no central point that I’ve found where alerts are distributed to a data base of interested parties regarding the availability of updated machine safety standards. This is particularly an issue for the smaller companies that don’t have employees on standards committees or who are not members of advisory boards. But first, understand that consensus standards typically have some convention to declare their revision, such as; NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, 2012 Edition.


My recommendation is that every manufacturer should designate someone to keep a list of current active consensus standards. In some cases I’m aware of a “librarian” within a company that has this responsibility as part of their job description. This person could then periodically check out each standard via the internet for the availability of a newer revision.


Additionally, some consensus standards bodies allow folks to register for emails on various activities. I would suggest that you go to each standard body (ANSI, NFPA, CSA, RIA, etc.) to see if they have this feature. I have found a few that have this feature but it’s typically offered on a particular consensus standard by standard basis and not on a blanket basis. This could actually be an advantage since most manufacturers have their unique list of standards upon which they base their business. On the other hand you might get more emails then you’re looking for since you only want those related to the revision of a standard.


All consensus standards have typical revision cycles of three to five years. I’ve seen quite a few that actually publish future revision target dates on their web sites for a given consensus standard. This could be helpful to establish your own list of future revisions for tracking purposes.


The bottom line is that, across the board, there doesn’t appear to be an effective top down alert system for updated consensus standard releases. What I’ve mentioned are some bottom up ideas using the internet and technology to create your own alert system that’s unique to your business.


If anyone has some additional ideas or solutions please share them as comments and we’ll gladly post for everyone’s benefit. Simply submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Machine Safety: How do I know that a consensus standard has been updated?




J.B. Titus, CFSERelated sites:

ANSI – American National Standards Institute

NFPA – National Fire Protection Association

CSA – Canadian Standards Association

RIA - Robotics Industry Association


Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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