Standards like ISO 31000 on risk management are increasingly influencing the risk and safety fields, despite rather strong criticism concerning their quality. In this paper, we perform a thorough discussion of the application of standards in the risk and safety fields, using ISO 31000 as a case to illustrate the argumentation. The aim is to structure and summarise some key knowledge on the role of such standards in the progress and practice of these fields. The discussion addresses the scientific basis, the level of consistency, as well as the processes for developing and improving the standards. We conclude that the current trend of using standards represents a serious threat to the advancement of the risk and safety fields, and measures need to be taken to create broader and more scientifically based arenas for guiding risk and safety analysis and management practices.