Standards and regulation

If you comply with a British Standard then it’s pretty clear that you take your responsibilities seriously as an organisation, and indeed compliance is often taken as evidence of due diligence. It certainly speaks volumes about your attitudes to doing things properly.

However, standards aren’t the same as regulations and following a standard doesn’t guarantee that you’re within the relevant laws. In fact standards rarely cite the law as legislation could change within the lifetime of the standard.

How standards are used in law

The government often draws on standards when putting together legislation or guidance documents. Standards are used to establish the technical detail, allowing the legislation to concentrate on long term policy objectives – for example product safety, or environmental protection.

In a case like this, compliance with the standard will often mean you’re compliant with the relevant legislation, although there are usually ways of being compliant with legislation without using a standard.

It’s also worth noting that BSI is not empowered to check and police every organisation’s claim to be compliant with British Standards – that would usually be a matter for a trading standards unit at a local authority. A false claim of compliance is likely to put you on the wrong side of the law.