Public consultation on timber standards NZS 3640 and NZS 3602


Public consultation on the draft revisions of NZS 3640 Chemical preservation of round and sawn timber[1] (DZ3640) and NZS 3602 Timber and wood based products for use in buildings (DZ3602) ends on 6 April 2018. The purpose of this communication is to provide information and clarity on the standards development process for these projects, as well as to encourage you to submit feedback on the two drafts, through the public consultation process.

Public consultation

Public consultation is an important step in the development process, as it is an opportunity for individuals, organisations, and the wider sector to have their say on the draft. The P3640 and P3602 committees have a responsibility to ensure that each and every submission is considered individually and a decision is made by the full committee on each submission. Standards New Zealand is responsible for ensuring that the committees discharge this role. We would therefore encourage you to submit your feedback via the public consultation process. You also have the opportunity to provide your views through members of the committee, who are part of your nominating organisation.

During the past couple of months Standards New Zealand has been made aware of several emails and other communications that have been circulated within the sector on the contents of DZ3640. Standards New Zealand remains committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that the integrity of the standards process is not compromised. As stated previously, we would encourage you to submit your feedback via the public consultation process so the committee and Standards New Zealand hear your views on the draft standard.

You can view the draft standard and submit comments on the Standards New Zealand website. The closing date for all comments is 6 April 2018.

Next steps

Once public consultation closes, the standards committees will consider all of the submissions that have been received on the draft and make changes to the draft standards based on the submissions as appropriate. When a standards development committee reaches consensus on the technical content of a draft standard, a ballot draft is prepared on which a vote is cast by each member of the committee who is eligible to vote. Each committee member will vote to represent the views of their nominating organisation. Based on the outcome of the ballot process, Standards New Zealand provides a memo to the Standards Approval Board, seeking approval for the standard to be published.

The Standards Approval Board has the functions of approving new New Zealand standards and modifications to New Zealand standards. They also approve proposals for persons to be members and chairpersons of standards development committees. The Board must act independently in undertaking its functions.

Standards development process as provided for under the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015

The Standards and Accreditation Act 2015 establishes the role of the New Zealand Standards Executive (NZSE), who is required to undertake their functions in an independent manner. These functions include managing the development of standards through the formation of standards development committees. Standards New Zealand is the operational arm of the NZSE. The development and revision of New Zealand standards is undertaken in a manner that is consistent with international principles, and which is provided for in the Act. For example, committees are required to operate on a consensus basis and constitute a balanced representation of relevant stakeholder interests, and all standards are publicly consulted on.

Review of applications submitted as part of the review of DZ3640 and DZ3602

In July 2016, as part of the revision of NZS 3640, Standards New Zealand sought proposals from industry on additional treatments or amendments to be included in the standard. Additionally, as part of the revision of NZS 3602, in October 2016, Standards New Zealand sought information from industry on additional timber products that could be included in the updated standard to incorporate newer wood-based products, such as heat-modified timber, non-biocidal modified timber, and wood-plastic composite.

Where a committee is responsible for a complex or large standard, it can be more effective to form working groups to develop the detailed requirements for specific sections.

In the case of NZS 3640 and NZS 3602, the applications were reviewed by a working group, which included representatives from the standards development committee. Some of the information provided by the applicants was kept confidential to the working group as it included proprietary information, efficacy reports, and copyright information that were identified as being ‘confidential’ by the applicant. This working group was established to ensure that the review of applications would safeguard the confidentiality of the applicants’ reports. The full committee was provided with parts of the applications. The establishment of the working group and how it would operate was agreed to by the committees.

The working group provided recommendations on the applications, which were reviewed by an independent peer reviewer. The recommendations (including the peer reviewer’s recommendations) were discussed by the full standards development committee, who were able to accept or reject the recommendations of the working group or seek additional information on the applications. The committees reviewed the information and some additional treatments were included in the DZ3640 draft standard, and DZ3602 is proposing the inclusion of some modified wood products.

Conflict of interest

The standards development process relies on the input of committee members. It is important that committee members are able to engage in free and frank discussion to ensure that the public consultation draft and the final standard are robust and reflect the needs of the different groups that use or are impacted by the standard. Under the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015, standards committees constitute a balanced representation of the stakeholder interests relevant to the standard, and are required to develop standards using a consensus process.

When a person is nominated by a nominating organisation to be on a standards development committee, they are required to complete a conflict of interest (COI) disclosure statement. Any declared conflicts are carefully considered by Standards New Zealand and are communicated to the Standards Approval Board. In a situation where a member has declared a COI, the chairperson and Standards New Zealand work closely to manage the COI. During the course of the project, if a member becomes aware of a COI they are required to immediately inform Standards New Zealand and the chair.

All conflicts are managed by Standards New Zealand in association with the chair of the committee. For example, for the review of applications for new or amended treatments to be included in DZ3640, extra steps were taken to ensure that conflicts were managed for the decision-making process. Members on the committee, who were also members of organisations who had submitted an application, were able to provide details on the application to the full committee. However they were not part of the decisions, undertaken by the full committee, on their applications.

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[1] The draft standard DZ3640 is proposing that the name of the standard is changed to Preservation of wood and timber based products