By Mike Miller
The basis of developing standards through consensus is both simple and complex. In theory, it is impossible for one person or company to dominate the group and promote its products exclusively. Most ASTM standards reflect the interests and concerns of those members who represent the precast concrete industry as a whole.
Attendance at ASTM meetings is not required for membership. It is acceptable to participate without making commitments. Non-attending members can still review proposed changes or additions and vote. All voting is done via an online program which allows the member to cast votes and provide written comments that will be reviewed at a subsequent meeting.
The structure of ASTM is based on individual membership on product committees and technical subcommittees. A person becomes a member by applying to join a committee. Annual dues are required and allow the new member to select a book of standards for free.
Once accepted into the committee, the member is assigned a voting status based on the balance of producer members and others on the committee. Committees stay in balance by having no more voting producer members than voting non-producer members. Also, only one official vote is allowed for each company.
Votes can be affirmative, abstaining or negative. While both affirmative and abstaining votes may be accompanied by comments, a negative vote requires a technical explanation.
The work of developing standards falls on a task group. This is usually a subset of the subcommittee and includes members with specific technical knowledge or interest in the particular item. Task groups may meet inbetween regular meetings or conduct business online. When a proposal is finalized, it is submitted to the entire subcommittee for ballot. After concerns of the subcommittee members are resolved, the proposal is submitted to the committee for a vote. Finally, after all concerns from the committee vote are resolved and the item has passed with no negatives, it is published and becomes an official standard.
Consensus standard development can sometimes seem slow, but the process represents the best method of making difficult technical decisions align for all parties.
Precast Concrete Gasketed Joint Comparison Table