The NFPA safety standards are used by companies around the world because they have been proven effective. Their standards have even been used to create many governmental regulations regarding safety in the workplace. While the current NFPA standards are clearly effective, they can always be improved. Understanding how they develop new standards over time can help companies to not only understand the best practices, but also to predict how improvements will progress over time.
The NFPA typically updates or revises their standards every three to five years, with ideas and strategies compiled as they are developed. If a major change is needed, it can be rolled out more quickly, but in general this timeframe allows the NFPA to carefully review all ideas to ensure they have the best results possible.
During the revision process, the NFPA solicits public input. This will often come from private businesses that use the existing NFPA standards, and have recommendations on how they can be improved. The input helps to create a first draft of the new set of standards. Once the first draft is completed, it will be published for public comment and review. This will give additional people the option to go over the proposed changes, and provide further insights as to whether or not they should be adopted. Based on this input, a new draft of the updates will be created.
After the public comment period has expired and the new draft is created, the NFPA will hold a technical meeting. During this meeting the various technicians and engineers will review the second draft, and make motions on what parts should be kept, which ones should be revised, and what should be adopted. This helps to ensure the updates are going to be both effective and practical.
Finally, the Standards Council will make craft a final draft, which will be implemented according to the normal schedule for that set of standards. In most cases they will release the information early so companies can have time to review and adopt the changes before they become official standards. If OSHA or other regulatory agencies want to update their standards to reflect the NFPA updates, they can begin working on that process at this time as well.