An ANSI Standard: Reaching a Consensus On the NBIC
This article by staff member Chuck Withers was originally published in the summer 2002 National Board BULLETIN. Some code requirements may have changed because of advances in material technology and/or actual experience. The reader is cautioned to refer to the latest edition and addenda of the National Board Inspection Code for current requirements.
In 1945 the National Board Inspection Code (NBIC) was developed and introduced as a standard by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, with no outside involvement. In 1983, however, the NBIC became an American National Standard (ANS).
The National Board made the move to become accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in order to develop and maintain the NBIC as a standard to be recognized worldwide, thus maximizing regulatory and market acceptance. Recognition by ANSI would indicate that the NBIC received industry input through a process of consensus.
Consensus is the substantial agreement reached by directly affected interest categories – a concurrence of more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity.
The consensus approach comprises three main principles: openness, balance, and due process. Openness indicates that any interested party directly affected by the activity in question can participate in the development of any ANS, provided he or she is a US national. Balance is the process of developing a standard using a balance of interest categories, not dominated by any single category. For example, the NBIC Committee is represented by seven different interest categories: jurisdictional authorities, manufacturers, regulatory authorities, owners/users, NB certificate holders, authorized insurance agencies, and general interest. Finally, the principle of due process is maintained throughout the development of a standard.
Anyone has the right to appeal any action made by the standards developer, including developing and revising written procedures and/or standards. All actions involving standards developers are open for public review comments. Every effort is made by the developer to resolve all public comments and issues. Any unresolved issues are reported to ANSI for review and assurance that due process has been followed.
The consensus approach employed by ANSI for development of standards receives widespread support from National Board member jurisdictions, industrial organizations, trade associations, and formal standardization bodies in national, regional, and international arenas.
As the “umbrella organization” for the United States’ voluntary consensus community, ANSI’s roles include developing standardization policies and procedures, ensuring standards integrity, and accrediting standards developers.
With many different interest categories participating, cooperation, research, and compromise are essential. NBIC draft addenda are published on the ANSI and National Board Web sites to encourage interested parties to submit comments. Because the ANSI process is recognized worldwide as an accepted method for establishing technical standards, the NBIC has become an international inspection, alteration, and repair code. Widespread participation in the consensus process enhances global competitiveness and safety.