As we read the ANSI/IICRC Standards of Care we should not fail to notice there are two distinct sets of definitions. The first set of definitions provided for the end-user is the “Important Definitions”, followed by the second set which is called “General Definitions”. The article below will discuss the “Important Definitions” and how they empower and tie together the Standards of Care for the end-user.
The term Standard of Care refers to the reasonable degree of care one should provide during a project. Many writers in the industry choose a technical approach that tends to stick to numbers and bullet points. The IICRC understands the need for effective communication. Here is the IICRC secret they introduced modal auxiliary verbs as “Important Definitions” which makes them “Key Words” that are deliberately placed and used throughout the Standards. When used properly these terms provide a common framework and set a tone that helps the end-users to concisely understand what is expected of them as they represent the Standards of Care at that time.
ANSI/IICRC “Important Definitions” and/or “Key Words” that are “Shall”, “Should”, “Recommend”, and “May” or “Can” are modal auxiliary verbs that tie up, and empower: sentences, paragraphs, and the various sections that make up the Standards of Care. Modal auxiliary verbs enrich a Standard of Care that leads to a design that prevents and eliminates mistakes, and internal disputes over interpretations for the end-user(s), and throughout the industry.
shall: when the term shall is used in a Standard of Care, it means that the practice or procedure is mandatory due to natural law or regulatory requirements, including occupational, public health, and other relevant laws, rules, or regulations, and is, therefore, a component of the accepted “Standard of Care” to be followed.
should: when the term should is used in a Standard of Care, it means that the practice or procedure is a component of the accepted “Standard of Care” to be followed, while not mandatory by regulatory requirements.
recommend(ed): when the term recommend(ed) is used in a Standard of Care, it means that the practice or procedure is advised or suggested but is not a component of the accepted “Standard of Care” to be followed.
may: when the term may is used in a Standard of Care, it signifies permission expressed by the document, and means that a referenced practice or procedure is permissible within the limits of the Standard of Care document but is not necessarily a component of the accepted “Standard of Care” to be followed.
can: when the term can is used in a Standard of Care, it signifies an ability or possibility open to interpretation by the end-user of the document, and it means that a referenced practice or procedure is possible or capable of application but is not a component of the accepted “Standard of Care” to be followed.
For the practical purposes of the ANSI/IICRC Standards of Care documents, it is deemed appropriate to distinguish the critical methods and procedures. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the definition is not intended to be either exhaustive or inclusive of all pertinent requirements, methods, or procedures that might be appropriate for a particular damage cleaning, restoration, remediation, and/or assessment project.
Although it can seem stringent or nit-picky, using modal auxiliary verbs that are keywords in Standards improves the conveyance of the exception to the end-user more effectively. It helps in word search functions and generally when combined with good general writing skills, provides a very effective engineering and administrative tool.
Key Take Away: Industry best practice calls for the end-user to become formalized with these meanings and how these words are used in Standards of Care.