REDwire New standard for building guards aimed at improving public safety

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CSA A500 specifies requirements for materials, design, construction, testing and performance of permanent guards in and about buildings.

Building guards are used every day, and most people don’t even notice them. When we go to work, go up a flight of stairs, or stand on a balcony, building guards are there to offer support and protection. But if these built structures fail, the result could be catastrophic.

As new buildings continue to go up across Canada, there is a surprisingly high degree of variation in design and construction practices for building guards. This creates a safety risk for the building occupants and anyone on the street below. In response, CSA Group has published CSA A500 - Building Guards, a new standard that specifies requirements for materials, design, construction, testing and performance of permanent guards in and about buildings.

The need is there

Over the past several years, there has been a number of highly publicized balcony guard failures. The problem was that there were no substantive and cohesive guidelines for practitioners to follow related to the design of building guards, and the evaluation of guard performance. Nor were there any recognized testing requirements for guard assemblies. In addition, there were gaps in codes and standards for the requirements related to guard and wind loads, and post-breakage retention. This lack of consistency in guard design posed a public safety risk, and prompted the development of an accredited standard that applies to all aspects of guard design and for various materials, including concrete, masonry, glass, aluminum, steel and wood.

A new standard

Having a dedicated standard for building guards such as CSA A500 should help reduce the risk of failures and make guard design more consistent and reliable. The standard can be referenced in building codes and, therefore, improve consistency in guard design and testing protocols across the country, with the ultimate goal of improving public safety.

CSA A500 specifies requirements for building guards under the following topics:

  • General requirements, including methods of analysis and design;
  • Loads, load effects and load combinations;
  • Deflection limits and openings;
  • Construction to improve safety, security and durability;
  • Testing of load-resistance, impact and post-breakage retention of infills, main connections and anchors/fasteners;
  • Materials used for building guard assemblies; and
  • Guidance for risk assessment, climbability, geometry and layout, rigging loads for maintenance equipment, composites and other materials, handling and maintenance activities.

The standard is now available in English in PDF Format. For more information on CSA A500, visit CSA Group’s website.


CSA Group

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