Safety Codes in Commercial Buildings

Fire Safety at Commercial Construction SitesThis week’s guest post Friday post is by Sally Davison. Sally is a graduate of Indiana Bloomington with a degree in English literature and a freelance writer by profession. She writes on the topic of fire science programs . She welcomes your comments at her email id: sallyd@firesciencedegree.com.

Construction crews and building owners know very well that they must be aware of the safety codes that need to be adhered to in commercial buildings, and anyone with a little commonsense will understand that it’s easier to work in safety at the blueprint stage rather than break your head over how to include it in a building that is already half erected. In general, commercial buildings must take into consideration the health, welfare and safety of any occupants the building may have in the future. And to this end, the construction crew must ensure that they adhere to both the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Building Code (IBC) set by the International Code Council (ICC).

The IBC covers new buildings while the IFC is a standard that must be adhered to by both old and new buildings. In general, both codes contain policies and standards for the safe evacuation of a building in the event of a fire or other natural or manmade catastrophe. Most tall buildings fall under the evacuation safety guidelines defined by the IFC and as such must have luminous markings for exits and stairwells that show the way to safety in the event of a disaster. Escalators and elevators are out of action at the time, so the only option is to go down the stairs in an orderly fashion; to facilitate this and improve evacuation times, it is necessary that the markings showing the exits and other safety signs be in place when the building is constructed.

In buildings that don’t have occupancy 75 feet or more above the height that fire department vehicles can reach, the safety codes are a little different. Windows, if barred, must be breakable or contain emergency exits. The building exits should also be clear of any obstruction.

Besides adhering to these codes, care should also be taken to ensure that accidents do not take place during construction and that the crew members follow safety measures and protect themselves from accidental falls, injuries caused by falling debris and construction material, electrical fires and electrocution because of faulty wiring, injuries and loss of limbs from construction machinery, and various other freak incidents.

Image via Stock.xchng

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4 Responses to Safety Codes in Commercial Buildings
  1. Sarah
    September 29, 2010 | 11:11 AM

    I did not know that one of the safety codes in commercial buildings is that the windows must be breakable or contain an emergency exit. How would a metal building warehouse in Florida that needs to have hurricane proof windows apply to this code?

  2. Metal Roofing Supplier
    September 29, 2010 | 11:28 AM

    Thanks for the input on safety codes! I believe everyone should understand these rules before looking to contract anything out. These codes could change your whole plan of design.

  3. Kevin D.
    June 16, 2011 | 12:08 PM

    Safety codes for commerical buildings commerical buildings are important. I wonder how many companies don’t follow the IFC standards…we make it our business at All American Windows & Doorsto follow all Fire Codes, because people’s lives are on the line. Our impact proof glass windows & doors are made so that people can evacuate.

    Kevin D.

    http://www.AAOneSource.com

    Impact Windows Fort Lauderdale

  4. Larry Spielvogel, PE
    February 26, 2014 | 5:55 PM

    Most existing buildings are grandfathered for compliance with most new building and fire codes, unless specifically covered by ordinances adopted by the local jurisdiction.

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About Musings

I am a construction lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, a LEED AP, and have been nominated by my peers to Virginia's Legal Elite in Construction Law on multiple occasions. I provide advice and assistance with mechanic's liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.

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