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ASHE reports success at International Code Council hearings

The Committee on Health Care saw 10 of its proposals – all aimed at helping to unify varying codes and standards – approved by ICC at recent hearings

CHICAGO, Illinois, United States, 15 May 2021: The Committee on Health Care (CHC), a partnership between the American Society of Health Care Engineering (ASHE) and the International Code Council (ICC), in April and May, took part in virtual testimonies before several ICC Committees at the Code Action Committee hearings in regard to the latest round of code proposals submitted by the CHC and others, ASHE said. The CHC was successful in getting approval for 10 of its 15 proposals and testified in opposition to 18 other health care facility proposals, of which 17 were disapproved, it added.

The biggest “win” was the approval of CHC proposal FS49, which provides an exception in the International Building Code (IBC) that will allow Group I-2 facilities to use a lay-in ceiling system with ceiling tiles that weigh a minimum of one pound per square foot, combined with a fully ducted HVAC system, to serve as part of the system to limit the transfer of smoke, ASHE reported. This exception aligns the IBC with the current requirements within the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code, allowing hospitals to avoid the conflict between the IBC and Life Safety Code, ASHE said.

The five CHC proposals that were disapproved will be modified to address the committee’s concerns and resubmitted as part of the public comment hearings that will take place in September, ASHE said.

By way of giving a context to its reporting, ASHE said that most health care facility professionals understand the challenges posed by conflicts in building codes. Unnecessary and conflicting codes and regula­tions, it said, can be costly and that the resources spent to comply with contradicting requirements could be put to better use in addressing other issues.

ASHE said one of its goals is to establish a system of unified codes, which it added, is imperative to improve quality and increase access to health care services by upgrad­ing or replacing aged health care facilities and infra­structure using cost savings resulting from the elimination of conflicting codes and regulations.

Since 2011, ASHE said, the CHC has brought together health care facilities managers, designers, industry professionals and building officials to create a better understanding of how health care codes function and are applied. Through this understanding, the CHC has developed hundreds of proposals to help align the ICC codes with other health care codes and standards.

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