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What is ANSI?

ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute. The organisation oversees the development and administration of the US voluntary standards and conformity assessment system. 

American National Standards Institute certification systems oversee the development of consensus standards for a wide variety of products, services, processes and systems by US based companies and organisations in coordination with international standards institutes to ensure interoperability globally. 

The organisation states that up to 93% of global trade is affected by the technical regulations and standards that it oversees.

History of the American National Standards Institute 

ANSI was founded in 1918 as the American Engineering Standards Committee (AESC). The American National Standards Institute definition is better understood by looking at the founding member organisations in 1918:

  • American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE)

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 

  • The American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (AIME) 

  • The American Society for Testing and Materials (now ASTM International) 

With a small staff and budget of just $7,500 in its first year, the organisation set out to coordinate standards between the founding organisations. One of its initial projects was the approval of the first American Standard Safety Code in 1921, which standardised protective equipment for American industrial workers. 

Over the next decade ANSI standards would be nationally recognised in the mining, engineering, construction and highway traffic design industries. 

Impact on international trade 

What is the American National Standards Institute responsible for? Following domestic success, the institute worked to promote international cooperation. 

Consensus among different countries allowed for the integration of production and technologies from around the world to be used interchangeably, benefitting US exporters. 

In 1926, AESC, as ANSI was known until 1966, organised a conference that led to the creation of the International Standards Association, which became the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 

The ISO has been adopted by 167 national standards bodies. It’s the world’s most widely recognised standardisation system. 

What does ANSI mean today?

ANSI represents the interests of more than 270,000 companies and organisations as well as over 30 million professionals worldwide. 

The institute does not create or develop international standards, but provides a neutral framework for consensus building among common stakeholders. ANSI strives for conformity and safety in approved standards, while maintaining a dedication to the free market. 

The organisation contributes to the education and training of international standards groups and coordinates corporate and governmental organisations. 

Headquartered in Washington DC, ANSI is funded through the sale of publications and accreditation services pertaining to internationally recognised standards programmes. 

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