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Most Americans take the use of standards for granted and give no thought to the people who test products. A calendar by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) may help people appreciate why standards are so important

  • January Skis, snowboard bindings, ice hockey skate blades, helmets, and face masks all must pass safety inspections before they appear on the slopes or in a rink.
  • February (Heart month) Defibrillators must always be in a “go” mode and must be perfectly calibrated.
  • March The “R-value” standard ensures that insulation will resist heat loss, even when March winds blow.
  • April Earth Day reminds us that standards for clean water and air have made life better for people, animals, and plants.
  • May Playground equipment must meet standards for safety before a school or park will buy it.
  • June Bikes, baseballs, mitts, and protective headgear must be approved before sold.
  • July Airplanes, airports, boats, and cars require a whole army of specialized inspectors.
  • August Standards for exterior windows, doors, and storm shutters were developed as a result of Hurricane Andrew.
  • September Labor Day reminds us of the long list of workplace protections that have come about because of labor union trends.
  • October Parents insist that Halloween costumes and masks meet standards for visibility and being fireproof.
  • November All of the food on the Thanksgiving table, from turkeys to cranberry sauce, has been inspected and declared healthy before it arrives at grocery stores.
  • December Safety inspection of toys always gets media attention this month, as consumer groups go beyond the standards set by either the industry or the government.

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