Regulators in many sectors specify the use of conformity assessment by referring to relevant International Standards and Guides, known as the CASCO toolbox.

Most of them are developed and published jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

They have a broad geographical reach because the experts that have contributed to their development are nominated by many national standards bodies around the world. Those experts also come from a range of stakeholders and perspectives, including regulators, industry, consumer groups, scheme owners, standards officers, testing laboratories, inspection bodies, certification bodies and accreditation bodies.

This combination of broad geographical reach and development with a multi-stakeholder environment mean the CASCO toolbox is widely supported and used.

What are the benefits of using the CASCO toolbox

Using the CASCO toolbox benefits many stakeholders:

For regulators, it provides a tool for managing compliance and providing an objective and defensible means to implement public policy and enforce national health, safety and environmental legislation. The CASCO toolbox provides a means for organisations to take responsibility for their own compliance, and can reduce costs for governments when regulatory schemes utilise recognised private sector conformity assessment providers.

For manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and service providers, they can make sure that their products and services meet specified requirements and deliver on customer expectations. Assessing their products and services in accordance with the CASCO toolbox helps them to meet the current best practice and avoid the financial costs and reputational damage of product failure in the market, including subsequent activities such as product recalls, product returns and destruction of unsuitable product.

Consumers also derive benefit from the CASCO toolbox because it provides them with a basis for selecting products or services in the market, including matters such as quality, price, safety, reliability, compatibility, interoperability, efficiency and effectiveness, and even the colour of a product. Consumers may have more confidence in products or services that are supported by a formal mark or certificate of conformity that attests to quality, safety or other desirable characteristics.

And finally for traders, importers and exporters the CASCO toolbox are the recognised International Standards and Guides for conformity assessment procedures under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT Agreement). Application of the CASCO toolbox can be a basis for mutually accepting trading partners’ products and services, and avoiding unnecessary barriers to trade.