Order of Implementation of Standards

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Alan Cotterell

I apologise in advance for asking the following question in an international forum such as this. However I am looking for reassurance on the legal order of implementation of standards and codes of practice. My feeling is that in the workplace work instructions take priority over procedures, policies, codes of practice issued by government departments, national standards and international standards, in that order.
Policies should be based on national standards as these are usually the guidance material for industry 'best practice', and are the basis for government generated 'codes of practice', and thus the 'law'. Workplace work instructions and procedures should reflect organisational policies.
I have recently encountered an example of a lack of harmonisation in which a code of practice does not call up national standards, and the writers do not seem to contribute to or comment on the national standard. It is a situation where government departments and the standardisation authorities have got their acts together.
I am interested in the opinion of others on this matter, as it is relevant to many of the manuals I write.
I feel that if I cannot reliably use a national standard as a basis for an organisational policy (quality, safety, etc.) and comply with all relevant laws, all is lost.
 
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