Volume 38, Issue 3, March 2003

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ANSI Z97 Committee Meets; Vote Changes Allowed until March 31, 2003

BALTIMORE—The ANSI Z97 Accredited Standards Committee on Safety Requirements for Architectural Glazing Materials met here on March 3 to discuss the voting results of two controversial proposed changes in the draft standard. In both cases, the proposals received more “affirmative” votes than negative and/or abstentions, but not the two-thirds majority of those voting (less those abstentions) necessary to pass. 
“We are now in a position where the majority of those voting voted for changes that will not take place,” said committee member Ray Foss. “I think that is unusual.”

The first proposal would have eliminated the Class C exemption for wired glass, basically eliminating the inclusion of the wired glass as a safety material. The vote was 17 affirmative to eliminate the exemption, 11 against and 1 abstention. 

The debate before the committee included an impassioned plea by Greg Abel, president of Advocates for Safe Glass and the father of a son injured by wired glass. “How can this committee tell the children who have been injured by wired glass that they voted to keep it in use?” he asked. Abel’s son, Jarred, also has filed a lawsuit against the committee alleging its complicity in his injury (see the October 2002, USGlass, page 22).

The use of the Center Punch Fragmentation Test in evaluating the impact resistance of tempered glass was the second ballot issue reviewed. The tempering division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) has requested the deletion of the test method because many of its members were not satisfied with the evaluation of the results of the test. 

“We have no quarrel with the test,” said Greg Carney, GANA technical director, who spoke on behalf of the temperers. “But, we are concerned about how the fragments are evaluated and thought it better to remove the whole provision and work on a revised procedure.” As with the wired glass provision, the proposal to remove the test from the Standard received a majority of affirmative votes, but fell short of the two-thirds majority of those voting necessary to pass the measure.

Committee member Kate Steele, an attorney representing wired glass opponent O’Keeffe’s, took issue with how the ballot about wired glass was written. “It was written to require an affirmative to eliminate the exemption,” she said. “It should have been written that an affirmative vote would have been a vote to include the exemption. We have never really had a vote on whether or not to include Class C,” she said. The reballot on wired glass was the result of an appeal filed by Steele before the ANSI appeals panel. The panel then ruled that a re-vote take place.

“This [wired glass] is really an issue for the building codes,” said committee member Thomas Zaremba, an attorney for Pilkington. “The ICC is the proper forum for addressing this issue.”
“Mr. Zaremba didn’t mention that the ICC has already addressed this issue and twice voted for its elimination,” Abel objected. “He didn’t mention that both times these votes were overturned on procedural objections brought by Mr. Zaremba.”

Z97 chairperson Valerie Block reviewed the comments that committee members had made about both votes. She indicated that committee members would have until March 31 to change or affirm their votes on both the issues, and at that point, “the standard will be done and ready to go to ANSI, barring an appeal—and if history is any indication, there will be an appeal.”

The committee is under a bit of time pressure to complete the standard and forward it to ANSI. ANSI must receive it by a “drop-dead” date in 2004 in order for the standard to remain in existence. 

“We are checking on that date now,” said Block.

President Bush Signs Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Into Law
Since the tragic events of September 11 the number of commercial construction projects taking form has decreased drastically, due in part to exclusion of terrorism from coverage by insurance companies. This may change, however, now that President George W. Bush has signed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 into law. The legislation was signed November 26, 2002, and applies to commercial property and casual insurers licensed/admitted in any state.

“The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will provide coverage for catastrophic losses from potential terrorist attacks,” said President Bush. “Should terrorists strike America again, we have a system in place to address financial losses and get our economy back on its feet as quickly as possible.” 
According to Zurich North America’s website, the act covers:

1. Insurance availability. Insurers will generally offer coverage for losses resulting from terrorism acts that do not differ materially from the terms, amounts and other coverage limitations applicable to losses arising from events other than acts of terrorism;

2. Disclosure. Insurers will provide policyholders with informational disclosures regarding the premium charged for coverage of acts of terrorism and also the federal share of terrorism losses; and

3. Federal participation in terrorism losses. According to the act, once an insurer pays losses resulting from terrorism acts in any calendar year that exceed a deductible amount based on the insurer’s direct earned premiums, the federal government will reimburse the insurance company at 90 percent above the deductible in that year.



Birch & Associates to Provide Association Management for BEMA
Birch & Associates, a new association management company out of Topeka, Kan., is now providing the association management needs of the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association (BEMA). Previously, Association Services Corp. (ASC), also of Topeka, managed BEMA. The change was effective February 28.

Chris Birch, formerly with ASC, where he was the account executive for BEMA, is serving as the executive director. 

“I am grateful to continue my long history with BEMA,” said Birch. “The experience of Birch & Associates gives us a solid understanding of the bath enclosure industry and the specific needs of the association.” 

Two Defendants Dismissed from Wired Glass Lawsuit
Both Northwestern Industries of Seattle and Central Glass Co. of Japan have been dismissed as defendants in the wired glass lawsuit filed by Jarred Abel last September (see related story in the October 2002 USGlass, page 22).

By an inspection of the accident scene it could be seen that no glass from either company was used in the gymnasium where Abel was injured, and the court dismissed the complaint against them. 


USG

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