ICC Rejects Glass Railings Proposals
May 7, 2012
The International Code Council (ICC) reviewed several proposed
changes to the International Building Code related to glass railings
during its code development hearings held last week and throughout
the weekend in Dallas.
Anthony Leto, representing The Wagner Cos., was the proponent of
a revision that proposed to replace the words "handrails or guard"
with "top rail" in the following section: "Each handrail or guard
section shall be supported by a minimum of three glass balusters
or shall be otherwise supported to remain in place should one baluster
panel fail. Glass balusters shall not be installed without an attached
handrail or guard."
Leto said the reason he put forth the proposal, S299-12, was a
"disconnect" he sees in the current code. "While the ICC opinion
on top railing requirements for monolithic glass baluster guards
has remained consistent, we continue to see installations without
the required top rail," wrote Leto in his proposal. "Where is the
The committee also rejected the revisions to sections 2407.1 and
2407.1.1, related to materials and loads, as part of proposal S300
- 12. Proponent Thomas S. Zaremba, partner at Roetzel & Andress,
representing the Glazing Industry Code Committee, suggested the
following revised version for section 2407.1: "Glass used
in a handrail, guardrail or a guard section shall be laminated glass
constructed of fully tempered glass or heat-strengthened glass and
shall comply with Category II of CPSC 16 CFR Part 1201 or Class
A of ANSI Z97.1. Glazing in railing in-fill panels shall 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 shall be 1/4 inch (6.4 mm)."
Zaremba also suggested adding the following exception: "Single
fully tempered glass complying with Category II of CPSC 16 CFR Part
1201 or Class A of ANSI Z97.1 may be used in handrails and guardrails
if there is no walking surface beneath them or the walking surface
is permanently protected from the risk of falling glass."
For section 2407.1.1, Zaremba suggested taking out the word "safety"
from before "design" in the last sentence and adding the words "for
safety" at the end: "The panels and their support system shall
be designed to withstand the loads specified in Section 1607.8.
A design factor of four shall be used for safety."
Zaremba referenced "several
recent incidents involving spontaneous breakage of fully tempered
glass in handrail or guardrail systems on high-rise balconies" as
the reasoning for the proposal. "This change [would] make mandatory
the use of retentive characteristics of laminated glass in these
applications unless there is no walking surface below or it is permanently
protected from falling glass, in which case, fully tempered glass
meeting the safety criteria of Category II of CPSC 16 CFR 1201 or
Class A of ANSI Z971. would be permitted," wrote Zaremba in his
original proposal. "Additionally, the proposal [would] add the term
"guardrail" to section 2407.1 since that term is also used in various
locations throughout the I-codes in connection with these types
Additionally, Zaremba said the proposal changes intended "to make
it clear that a 'design' factor of four is required 'for safety.'"
"Using the word 'safety' in the way it is currently found in this
section is ambiguous and may or may not achieve the section's intended
purpose," adds Zaremba in the proposal.
Glass balconies and railings have created a lot of discussion throughout
the industry in recent months. CLICK
HERE to view a recent article from the March 2012 issue of USGlass
on this topic.