The Industrial Research and Standards Act (as amended by the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act) provides for the publication of Irish standards. They define technical standards in relation to various products. In cases where the standards have the force of law, the failure to comply with them is an offence.
Many Irish standards were made by statutory instrument before Ireland joined the EEC in 1973. Relatively few have been since that date. Many of the Irish standards have been eclipsed by common European Union common standards. A number of Irish standards remain in force.
The British Standard Institution has been historically, influential in relation to product, process and services standards in Ireland, where there is no equivalent Irish standards.
The vast majority of standards do not have direct legal effect. They may represent best practice or an industry standard. They may define the producer’s duty of care and general obligations in relation product safety and merchantability in many cases.
National Standards Authority of Ireland
The National Standards Authority of Ireland is the Irish standards body. It operates under the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act 1996. It is the national authority for certification for CE marking purposes. This certification permits goods and services conforming to the applicable standards to be sold freely throughout the EU.
The NSAI offers the standards information service. The service allows subscribers accessed to information with a personalised contact within NSAI. A tailored updating service is available for certain monitored standards. The NSAI publishes standards through its sales office and through its website.
The NSAI consultative committee was established under the 1996 Act. It advises the NSAI on what Irish standards and codes or practices are necessary for products and processes within the scope of its functions. It drafts the appropriate standards and codes and amendments for adoption by the NSAI. It ensures that interested parties are consulted.
Most NSAI standards are derived internationally. Since Ireland joined the EU, pre-existing national standards have been revoked are progressively replaced by EU promoted International Standards.
The NSAI participates directly in international standardisation agencies. This is done through ISO, IEC, CEN, CENELC and, ETCI. NSAI invokes the assistance of numerous experts who represent Ireland on the International Standards committee and in relation to the very substantial amount of standards documentation published annually. The NSAI publishes up to 2000 standards a year. Its present library of documents consists of over 25,000 standards.
The NSAI is affiliated to the International Organisation for Standardisation, ISO. The ISL is a non-governmental organisation spanning the public and private sector. It coordinates the work of over 160 national authorities. It has published nearly 18,000 international standards. New standards are constantly published as new information and processes come to light.
Domestic standards are initiated only where there is a specific requirement for a national standard. The number of national standards promulgated annually is relatively small, approximately a dozen relative to one to two thousand international standards. International standards supplant Irish standards on an ongoing basis.
The Irish Standard, IS is a national specification. It is based on the consensus view of an expert panel. There is public consultation. The Irish Standard mark, ISM signifies that the product has been manufactured in compliance with the Irish standard. The design of the logo is based on the letters CE (Caighdean Éireannach), predates and as is distinct from the EU “CE” (Conformité Européene) mark.
The Irish Standard mark is protected under the Industrial Research and Standards Act 1961. It is granted under license by the NSAI. A manufacturer of a product covered by the Irish Standard may apply for the Irish Standard mark license. This will entitle the manufacturer to display the Irish Standard mark on the product.
The body must have the relevant quality controls as tested against the Irish Standards. The conditions of use of the national, NSAI registered mark are available online.
Specification and Standards
NSAI developed standards through consultation with interested parties. The NSAI takes account of the views of stakeholders. This may include the industry, governmental organisations, consumer groups, manufacturers, et cetera. It seeks consensus. Ultimately it focuses on an agreed standard and issues certification.
SWIFT is a specification written in fast track. It is a rapidly developed recommendatory document based on participants in an SAI workshop. This is an alternative to the slower international standardisation. It is operated by the NSAI and may offer an alternative better suited to the requirements of Irish businesses, in particular, situations where urgency as required and there is broad consensus on what is required.
The NSAI operates the SME portal through its website. It is a national consultation platform facilitating medium to small businesses and individuals to comment on and influence the direction of standards. It offers premarket intelligence on proposed standards which may affect the business and provides for its influence and input.
NSAI creates, maintains and promotes accredited certification of products, services and organisations for compliance with recognised standards, from business management systems to product approvals.
Product certification and CE marking is a process for certifying that a product meets the requisite standards of performance, safety and quality. NSAI certifies and registers several thousand companies and has issued over ten thousand certificates.
NSAI standards cover areas such as performance safety, design, environmental impact and quality. NSAI certifies management systems. This covers the essential requirements for practical and effective management systems which minimise risk and maximise business opportunity.
The most important worldwide management systems are
- ISO 9001 quality management systems
- ISO 14001 environmental management systems;
- OHSAS 18001 occupational health and safety management;
- ISO 22000 food safety management systems;
- IS. EN 16001/ ISEN ISO 5001 energy management system.
NSAI issues vehicle approvals. The NSAI has issued over 2,000 motor vehicles approvals for vehicle types and their component elements such as seat belts, fires, engine parts, emissions, et cetera.
In relation to motor vehicles, NSAI has approved 10 test centres. The centres undertake testing for vehicle approval and issue test reports.