Toolbox Talk: Building Codes and Safety

The month of May is recognized as Building Safety Month, sponsored by the International Code Council. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps define building codes, describing them as the minimum design and construction requirement to ensure safe and resilient structures.

These enforcement codes reduce damage to buildings and infrastructure, injuries and fatalities associated with building failures, and  repair and replacement costs—stronger buildings are designed to withstand diverse disasters. Codes also help communities recover more quickly by minimizing indirect costs such as business interruptions and lost income.

A great example of a building code resource, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes codes to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. NFPA codes cover numerous aspects of fire safety that many of us never realize, including:

  • smoke detector placement
  • fire extinguisher testing and placement
  • automatic sprinkler system testing and maintenance
  • chemical storage requirements
  • flame spread rating
  • fire-proofing
  • safe electrical wiring standards during construction

NFPA codes protect buildings by reducing the chances of fires occurring. When fire occurs, proper detection and suppression features whelp to minimize damage.

Using certain building materials, or combinations of materials, also aids in prolonging a structure’s resistance to collapse. Prolonging collapse allows occupants to evacuate safely and fire fighters to respond to the emergency.

Numerous building code resources are available and adopted codes vary by states. Ensure you are informed of applicable building codes during project planning and up to date with the latest information. Building codes are revised every three years!