Standards & Certification FAQ


What is a standard?

A standard can be defined as a set of technical definitions and guidelines, “how to” instructions for designers, manufacturers, and users. Standards promote safety, reliability, productivity, and efficiency in almost every industry that relies on engineering components or equipment.  Standards can run from a few paragraphs to hundreds of pages, and are written by experts with knowledge and expertise in a particular field who sit on many committees. 

Are standards mandatory?

Standards are considered voluntary because they serve as guidelines, but do not of themselves have the force of law.  ASME cannot force any manufacturer, inspector, or installer to follow ASME standards.  Their use is voluntary.
Standards become mandatory when they have been incorporated into a business contract or incorporated into regulations.

Why are standards effective?

Standards are a vehicle of communication for producers and users. They serve as a common language, defining quality and establishing safety criteria.  Costs are lower if procedures are standardized; training is also simplified.
Interchangeability is another reason.  It is not uncommon for a consumer to buy a nut in California for a bolt purchased in New Jersey.

How Standards Are Developed

What is the involvement of ASME in codes and standards today?

Since the beginning of industrialization, ASME and many other standards developing organizations have worked to fulfill the growing need for standards in today’s world.  Through a voluntary, consensus process, ASME standards are developed to protect the health and welfare of the public.  In addition to developing these standards ASME provides conformity assessment processes which help to ensure the manufacturers are capable of complying with the relevant specifications and that certain personnel are properly qualified.

ASME publishes its standards; accredits users of standards to ensure that they are capable of manufacturing products that meet those standards; and provides stamps that accredited manufacturers place on their products, indicating the manufacturer's certification that a product was manufactured according to a standard. 

Where does a request for a new code or standard come from?

A request for a code or standard may come from individuals, committees, professional organizations, government agencies, industry groups, public interest groups, or from an ASME division or section.  The request is first referred to the appropriate supervisory board for consideration.  The board then assigns the request to an existing committee of knowledgeable volunteers or determines that a new standards committee must be formed.  Once an appropriate Committee has concluded that there is enough interest and need the standards developing process is initiated. 

What type of procedures do ASME Standards Committees follow?

Procedures must reflect openness, transparency, balance of interest, and due process.  Committee meetings addressing technical issues must be open to the public, and procedures are used to govern deliberations and voting.  Committees must represent a balance of interested parties, and all comments on technical documents during the final approval process must be considered.  Any individual may appeal any action or inaction of a committee relating to membership, or a code or standard promulgated by the committee.

What does "Consensus" mean?

Consensus [as defined by American National Standards Institute (ANSI)] means substantial agreement has been reached by directly and materially affected interest categories.  This signifies the concurrence of more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity.  Consensus requires that all views and objections be considered, and that an effort be made toward their resolution

What type of voting procedures do ASME Standards Committees follow?

Voting procedures for the standards committee are designed to ensure consensus as defined by ANSI.  Voting is conducted at meetings and votes are also sent by mail, email and through the ASME web site.  Repeated voting may be necessary to resolve negative votes.  If an individual member feels that due process was not observed, appeals may be made to the standards committee, supervisory board, and subsequently, to the Board on Hearings and Appeals.

The proposed standard (or revision) is also subject to a public review in Mechanical Engineering magazine, and on the ASME web site, and usually in ANSI's Standards Action publication.  Anyone may submit comments during the public review period, to which the committee must respond.  The draft is also submitted for approval to the supervisory board and ANSI.  When all considerations have been satisfied, the document is approved as an American National Standard and published by ASME.

Why are codes and standards revised?

Codes and standards are living documents that are constantly revised to reflect new developments and technical advances (e.g., new materials, new designs and new applications).


How is ASME organized to produce codes and standards?

Within ASME, the Council on Standards and Certification reports to the Board of Governors. Under this Council, there are five standards developing supervisory boards that manage over 70 consensus committees with 4700 volunteer members and four advisory boards. The supervisory boards are responsible for pressure technology, nuclear installations, safety codes and standards, standardization and performance test codes and conformity assessment. The supervisory boards in turn have standards committees, each responsible for an area of standards development. The advisory boards deal with strategic initiatives, energy and environmental standards, hearings and appeals and council operations.

Is ASME part of the government?

No, ASME is an independent, not-for-profit organization. ASME is one of the oldest and most respected standards developing organizations (SDO) in the world. It produces and maintains approximately 550codes and standards, covering a multitude of technical areas including boiler components, elevators, hand tools, fasteners, and pipelines to name just a few.

Who are the members of Standards Committees?

The standards committees are composed of volunteers from various segments of the particular industry. The volunteers are dedicated people from many walks of life.

ASME standards committees are required to maintain a balance of members in various interest classifications so that no one group dominates. Some examples of the various interest classifications are: users, manufacturers, consultants, insurance interests, universities, testing laboratories, and government regulatory agencies.

Volunteers must agree to adhere to the ASME Policy on Conflict of Interest, the Engineer’s Code of Ethics and Standards and Certification's copyright policies.

How can I find information concerning a particular Standards Committee? 

We have a searchable database(click here) where you can search by committee designation or by a keyword.


What is ANSI?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a privately funded federation of business and industry, standards developers, trade associations, labor unions, professional societies, consumers, academia, and government agencies. ANSI does not itself write standards. ANSI is the United States member of International Organization for Standardization.

Is ASME Accredited by ANSI?

ASME is an accredited Standards Developing Organization that meets the due process requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Standards that are developed under an accredited program may be designated as American National Standards.

ISO International Organization for Standardization

What is ISO?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Is ASME involved in ISO Committees?

Yes, currently many ASME committees provide input to ISO Committees through the U.S. technical advisory groups (TAGs). All United States participation is implemented by the selection/establishment of US TAGS for ISO technical committees or subcommittees. ASME administers approximately 40 U.S. TAGS.