Dwayne Torrey of the CSA Group spoke to Fall Conference attendees about the development of a standard for guards and railings.
Dwayne Torrey of the CSA Group spoke to Fall Conference attendees about the development of a standard for guards and railings.

Over the past few years, the city of Toronto has seen a number of cases involving glass falling from balustrades and railings. As a result, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group began work on the development of a standard in 2012, which would cover glass used in guards and railings. Valerie Block of Kuraray America Inc. gave an update on the development during the Glass Association of North America’s Laminating Division meeting, held earlier this week as part of the group’s Fall Conference in Toronto. Dwayne Torrey with CSA Group also addressed attendees on Thursday and provided an overview of the CSA and the progress it has made on the standard development.

During the laminating session, Block explained that the standard, CSA A500 Building Guards, is not yet complete and very complex, as there are a variety of stakeholders involved.

“It’s pretty much an ongoing process to create a very comprehensive standard,” she said.

The standard’s scope is intended for use in design, testing, installation and also maintenance of these guards. “So the use of the standard is continuous through the life of the guard itself,” she said, and also pointed out that the glass requirements of the standard rely heavily on AAMA, ASTM standards as well as the DIN standard for heat soaking.

When Torrey addressed attendees the next day, he elaborated on what Block had said, adding that the standard is being develop by a comprehensive team of experts from both Canada and the U.S.

Giving a bit of history behind the development, he said it goes back in 2012 and the numerous guard failures in the Toronto area, some of which, he said, were primarily related to material failure. Others, he added were due to system design and installation. He said an assessment was done and they found there were no substantive guides for building guard systems [and] there were different protocols being used by designers on building guards.

Given considerations such as designers’ unique architectural tastes, and different regions having different design parameters, Torrey said a common approach is needed. The standard, he said, will help create an easier way to ensure consistent regulation … and will allow a consistent platform for regulation. It will also provide a baseline to allow designers to create unique products, he explained.

According to Torrey, there are three levels involved in the standard’s development. Strategic steering oversees the work of the technical committee, which has full control of the technical document. “[That group] develops, writes and approves the standard,” he said. Reporting to the technical committee are various task forces, though the technical committee is essentially responsible for the standard’s development.

CSA A500 will address specific requirements for the design, installation alteration and maintenance of guards in and about buildings. It does not include temporary guards, barriers for restricting impact from vehicles, walls acting as guards, etc.

Torry also said the standard will also include a series of annexes covering topics such as commentary, fixing glass in guards, risk assessment for glass breakage, handling glass, test methods for guard re-evaluation, rigging loads for window cleaning and maintenance, maintenance plans for railing systems, composites and other materials, among others.

Glass-specific clauses will include topics such as general applications for glass, materials, design and detailing, fabrication, heat soaking and construction and assembly.

A public review phase is expected this fall, and the group is working toward approval and publication next year.

Torrey said they hope the standard will help provide design requirements that architects and others need so they can establish a consistent rule for the industry. “It will get everyone on the same page,” he said.

Look to USGNN™ in the coming months for more information on when the public comment period will be open.