Importance of standards

BUILDING a culture of accreditation for local labs was the hallmark of a three-day workshop hosted by the TT Bureau of Standards (TTBS) in collaboration with its TT Laboratory Accreditation Service.

The workshop, which began on Wednesday, emphasised the importance of quality control and assurance and inspection and certification of products offered for sale locally and more important, on the global market.

The TTBS monitors a long list of international standards across a range of criteria, some compulsory, others voluntary, but all necessary if a product is to be taken seriously in the most stringent of global markets.

From time to time, the bureau will also publish standards on pressing issues, such as its specification for sliding gates, a response to a sudden rise in accidents resulting from the improper installation of these gate systems.

The bureau’s scope extends beyond products to such issues as abstract as governance.

In December 2021, the TTBS issued a reminder of the international standard ISO 37000:2021, Governance of Organisations – Guidance, which offers guidelines for such critical matters as anti-bribery systems, whistleblowing management and compliance management.

While it might be amusing to believe that politics has a morality of its own, as former prime minister Basdeo Panday declared, there are globally accepted standards to which effective and transparent governance should be held. Despite the traditionally low profile of the TTBS, it has a continuing role in a range of quality issues nationwide.

The bureau is part of the Police Multi-Agency Task Force, along with Customs and Excise, the Chemistry, Food and Drug Division and Tobacco Control Unit in the continuing effort to police illegal and counterfeit goods being imported into TT.

The TT Manufacturers Association (TTMA) noted in July that over the last two years, its Illegal Trade Desk was aware of seizures of $6.4 million worth of illegal cigarettes, thousands of power strips, extension cords and phone adapters along with hundreds of other items, many of them also electrical, which had not been subject to electrical certification.

The TTMA is concerned about tax evasion and unfair competition, but some of these electrical items pose a physical threat to unwary buyers. Seizures of illegal and counterfeit goods are a necessary deterrent, but ultimately represent only a small percentage of the items offered for sale.

In June 2020, Roger Montero of Bastion Market Intelligence Ltd declared that most of the branded clothing sold in TT is either counterfeit or contraband. Greater awareness in the public of the risks of buying counterfeit or illegally procured goods, which may skip safety and health related measures in manufacture, should be added to the mix. The TTBS should bring the risk of poor adherence to standards and illegally procured goods home to the nation more clearly.

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