March 2008 Readers Feedback

Our Readers Care! See What Our Readers Agree and Disagree With This Month on

Isn’t It Supposed to Be About the Safety?

I read Scott Gee’s OEM Insight column [“Why Is Safety Information So Pricey?” Jan08, p 66], and I couldn’t agree more. I’m an electrical engineer for a packaging machinery builder. Not only are the documents absurdly expensive, it’s extremely difficult to find the information pertaining to the situation under investigation. It’s not unusual for these standards to refer to other standards that are, again, absurdly expensive and difficult to navigate.

It’s my understanding that these standards are established so the equipment is safer. People should be encouraged to use them. They should be readily available at a minimal cost. They should be written and organized so  they’re easy to use.

Mike Dimond, electrical engineer,
Federal Engineered Systems

New, But Not Improved

Well put Scott, but don’t stop with UL. The IEC standard business is just as bad! How have we managed to get from a point where, for example, back in the early ’80s the British standards were available on microfiche. OK, they were hard to access. You had to get access to a reader, but you only paid a one-off license fee.
But all of the information was available, and it was worth seeking out. Now we have a the absurd “improvement” brought by the Internet, which is easy to access, but is a difficult-to-navigate, information lottery, where you pay exorbitant amounts for wordy documents that fail to provide value!

Wyn Owen, senior electrical instrument engineer,
The Savola Group

Government Subsidies

Imagine how safety would improve if standards were avaliable for little or no cost. The government can subsidize corn, but not safety. Why do we pay for an entire document when we only need a small portion?

Glenn Violet, maintenance supervisor,
Tooling and Equipment International

Junk Mail Doesn’t Help Me

I can’t begin to estimate the time expended and money I’ve wasted chasing standards, only to find one paragraph or less that had relevance to the work I was doing. This is an issue of significance to any engineer trying to protect himself and his business.

As to standards organizations, I’ve often felt some of them could significantly cut costs if they would stop sending mail pushing their wares. Think of the printing and postage that’s wasted. I order standards when I need them. All the junk mail goes to the recycle bin.

Brian Williams, principal member,
B.R. Williams Control Services

Ukraine Has Problems, Too

The problem has international character. In Ukraine, to receive the standard is even more difficult. Even having paid, it’s possible to run into the Internet of swindlers. The position of the state in a question of safety standards is not clear. The safety standards certainly should be public and free. They’re important not only for the manufacturer, but also for a customer. Now, someone makes business on the public interests paid by our taxes.

Electronic form standards (pdf file) has more convenient possibilities for search than looking at hundreds of paper pages.

Volodimir Maximov, principal engineer designer of department computer-aided systems and control

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