ICC Approves Proposal to Require Laminated
Glass in Handrails and Guardrails
November 8, 2012
The International Code Council (ICC) recently passed the Glazing
Industry Code Committee's (GICC) code change proposal (S300-12)
to require the use of laminated glass in handrail assemblies, guardrails
or guard sections. The GICC's proposal was prompted by several incidents
of late involving spontaneous breakage of fully tempered glass in
handrail or guardrail systems on high rise balconies (CLICK
HERE to read our extensive report on the matter).
The code change calls for the laminated glass to be constructed
of either single-fully tempered glass, laminated fully tempered
glass or laminated heat-strengthened glass and to comply with Category
II of CPSC 16 CFR Part 1201 or Class A of ANSI Z97.1. The proposal
noted that the glazing used in railing in-fill panels must be of
an approved safety glazing material that conforms to the provisions
of Section 2406.1.1. For all glazing types, the minimum nominal
thickness must be 1/4 inch (6.4 mm). Fully tempered glass and laminated
glass must comply with Category II of CPSC 16 CFR Part 1201 or Class
A of ANSI Z97.1. An exception is provided for single fully tempered
glass complying with Category II of CPSC 16 CFR Part 1201 or Class
A of ANSI Z97.1 used in handrails and guardrails if there is no
walking surface below or the walking surface is permanently protected
from the risk of falling glass.
During the Glass Association of North America's (GANA) Fall Conference
in September, Thomas Zaremba, a consultant to GANA who presented
the proposal on behalf of GICC, explained that the GICC had initially
proposed the change earlier this year, but the ICC structural technical
committee voted to recommend disapproval. After which GICC submitted
a comment based on extensive research, bringing forward cases of
a number of balcony failures in both Canada and the United States.
Zaremba explained that during this most recent round of hearings,
the ICC membership voted by a 2/3 majority to approve "as submitted"
The code change will now be included as part of the 2015 IBC.
During the Fall Conference, though, Zaremba had pointed out there
are still only a few jurisdictions that have adopted the 2012 IBC
"so [the change] is not likely to have an immediate impact."