There’s a misconception that the code changes present a safety risk—but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bezdan has been a leader in pursuing research and evidence to support new code changes, and the future of ornamental guards is looking brighter than ever.
While in many cases an update to a building code can make construction more restrictive and costly, the recent National Building Code (NBC) updates to guardrail requirements provide design freedom without increasing costs.
The new code states that guardrails may now have ornamental infill, which means that Canadians now have a whole new world of design options at their disposal. Change, in this case, is a very good thing. Refer to the NBC 2015 articles here.
The Rationale for Code Changes
The provision to limit climbing was first introduced in the NBC in 1975 and applied only to guards around balconies in Part 3 residential buildings. At that time, this new requirement was not supported by any documented injury related to climbable guards.
During the following editions of the NBC, the scope of the requirement was expanded to include more locations without being supported by evidence (statistics, coroner reports or documented incidents). These provisions were unnecessarily restrictive, negatively impacting the ornamental guard industry. With a lack of evidence to support the claim, Bezdan, along with industry proponents, pursued the change that is reflected in NBC 2015. Refer to NBC 2015 rationale and article updates here.
Bezdan's Pivotal Role in the Code Changes
It took nearly eight years of comprehensive and diligent voluntary effort by industry proponents to come to a consensus-based full code change, and now that the time has come, it's time to celebrate this notable accomplishment. It's significant that Canadians can now enjoy guards that are as safe and practical as they are beautiful, in spaces designed for living, working or leisure alike—all with the confidence that product safety has not been compromised.
Safety has been Bezdan's first and foremost directive. As parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, the protection of children is of utmost concern. Throughout this process, Bezdan has actively engaged in dialog with industry professionals that have questions about the change to help educate and inform.
“Our research revealed that people too often believed that it was safe to leave children unsupervised on stairs or balconies if the guardrails and horizontal deck railings were up to code,” explains Margaret Bezdan, president of Bezdan Sales, who has been advocating for change in the industry for almost a decade. “However, no building code can replace real parental supervision...which is why we pushed for a systematic change.” Ultimately, the previous building code provided a false sense of security. The new code, now more evidence-based and developed with thorough research, is similar to building codes in the U.S. and Australia and intended to keep Canadians safer.
Photo Source: Bezdan Sales
Horizontal railing installations, like cable railing, are a safe option for guardrails and are approved by the National Building Code 2015.
Ornamental Guardrails are Safe
When research revealed that there was no justification to NBC articles pertaining to climbability— evidence could not be provided to attribute injuries of children to ornamental guard design either in Canada or the U.S. (where ornamental guards are permitted)—it was a relief to receive confirmation that ornamental guardrails were as safe as we always felt they were.
As a safety-conscious industry supplier, Bezdan is working every day to ensure that the products we’re introducing to the market are safe through engineering and physical testing.
More Choice for Guardrail Design
The key benefit to the change to the building code is that Canadians now have a more comprehensive selection of products to choose from. Horizontal and ornamental guardrail designs—including TimeLine ready-to-install spindles, cable railing, and ornamental metal railings—are easily adapted to the new NBC requirements.
Photo Source: Bezdan Sales
Horizontal cable rails can work in a variety of spaces: inside and out, modern or traditional.
Cable Railing to Increase in Popularity
Cable railing is one option that’s increasingly popular right now, thanks to its contemporary aesthetic that works well in modern and industrial settings alike. As code changes make ornamental guardrail accessible to more people, the demand for new styles and designs is expected to increase. Bezdan meets this demand with a new line of cable railing products—hitting the market soon.
In the meantime, it’s a great time to explore your options. We invite you to learn more about this on-trend choice for indoors or outdoors, whether surrounding the patio or giving a stairwell an industrial-cool finish.