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Standards and Codes

Links to standards collections licensed by Ontario Tech, explains how to search for and request standards, and provides a brief introduction to standards.

About Standards and Codes

What are standards?

Standards are technical specifications or other requirements applied to products, processes and services to ensure safety and reliability. These specifications may be related to:

  • Performance: Ensure that a product passes a test (e.g. strength)
  • Prescriptive: Identify product characteristics (e.g. thickness, type, dimension of materials). 
  • Design: Set out design or technical characteristics (e.g. airbags)
  • Management: Requirements for company processes and procedures (e.g. ISO 14000 for systematizing and improving environment management)

Recognized bodies develop standards with input from interested parties. Some standards are incorporated into law, and others are followed voluntarily.

Why use standards?
  • To better understand required specifications for products you're working with 
  • To ensure products, services, or systems that you're creating behave reliably and safely
  • Meeting standards may be mandatory by law
  • To learn how something works
What are codes?

Codes are standards incorporated into law by governments at the national, regional or local level. 

Model codes, by contrast, are developed by standards bodies and can be adopted or customized by governments. Examples of model codes include the International Building Code and Canada's National Building, Fire, Plumbing and Energy Codes. 


Examples of Standards Bodies

Standards are developed by national and international organizations. Generally, a single national body coordinates the process while other institutions develop the content of the standard.


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a network of national standards organizations; it facilitates the development of international standards in diverse fields. The two other major international standards organizations focus on particular types of standards:


The Standards Council of Canada coordinates standards development by accrediting Canadian Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and approves certain standards as National Standards of Canada ("Standards"). The accredited SDOs are:

United States

In the United States, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the development of standards by interested parties and facilitates common agreements.

Other major U.S. standards organizations include:


Source: ANSI. Standards activities overview.

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