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Standards & Codes: Get Started

About Standards

What is a Standard?

A standard is a document that prescribes or recommends performance, product characteristics, designs or management objectives. If you want more details you may want to read Standards Systems: A Guide for Regulators from the Standards Council of Canada.

Standards are the reason that:

  • A lightbulb made in China for GE fits in a socket made in Thailand for Phillips and works using North American power.
  • A steam boiler won’t blow up when operated at specified temperature & pressures and will vent if it does exceed those specifications.
  • It's possible to assemble a computer from components manufactured by many companies and to use software written by other companies and have it work.
  • A test carried out by a lab in Vancouver is comparable to one done in Montreal.
  • The cable pulling your elevator box up to the 10th floor doesn’t snap under a half load.



Standards might also be called Recommended Practices, Guidelines, or Military Specifications (aka Mil Specs).

Standards for buildings & construction are often called codes. However, other standards might be called codes, such as the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel code.


About Standard Numbers

Most standards follow a similar number format. They will look something like this ABC D123.56-07where

ABC is the organization that developed the standard
D is a broad subject category (not always present)
123.56 is a document/standard number
07 indicates the standard was approved in 2007

For example,

  • CSA B44.2-10 refers to the CSA standard B44.2 (covering maintenance of elevators and similar devices) the edition issued in 2010.
  • ABC D123.56-95 R07 refers to 1995 standard was reviewed in 2007 and determined that no changes were needed.


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