Durban — The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is warning suppliers and consumers to be cautious of associations that appoint themselves as regulators, watchdogs or governing bodies.
SABS said it had noticed an increasing trend of some associations and industry bodies trying to derail its the credibility and creating confusion by publishing misleading information about their authority to regulate or govern certain industries.
“SABS is aware of associations in the plumbing, paint and steel industries that are intent on duping the industry that they are the sole industry bodies that have powers, and usually these claims are further backed by unfounded claims about the capabilities of SABS,” said SABS Chief Operating Officer Lungelo Ntobongwana.
“While competition is healthy for industrial development, competitors that rely on making false claims about SABS and creating illegal market barriers cannot be allowed. and SABS will continue to pursue legal action against such organisations.
“Some organisations create unfair technical barriers to trade by creating illegitimate requirements for the purposes of profiting from unknowing consumers and suppliers. When fee or subscription-based associations claim to have authority or to offer competitive advantages – consumers need to be wary of such associations,” Ntobongwana said.
“Requirements for professional competencies, compulsory accreditation, product testing, certification and/or any other form of conformity assessment will be published via a regulation or specification via the relevant arm of government or government agency.”
Ntobongwana said that SABS did not hold regulatory powers, as such authority resided in various government departments and state-owned entities.
However, it was mandated to develop, maintain and promote national standards, through the Standards Act, No. 8 of 2008. National standards were developed through technical committees, which comprised associations, industry bodies, academics, organisations and individuals on a voluntary basis.
He said that importantly, an association wherein members paid for membership did not have any more representation or rights in a technical committee than any other member.
Ntobongwana also said that the Standards Act also made provision for conformity assessment services that included testing, certification, verification and inspection services that were offered through accredited services and were available through a multitude of service providers, including SABS.
“SABS offers conformity assessment and certification services on a commercial basis and is subject to the conditions of accreditation, in that it is subject to auditing by the South African National Accreditation System to ensure it delivered high-quality standards,” Ntobongwana said.
“It is important to note that while SABS has the largest suite of testing laboratories in southern Africa, it does not have the capacity to test and certify to all 7 400 national standards. Considering the commercial nature of conformity assessment services, SABS prioritises sectors that are commercially viable or are sponsored.”
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