BNSI Moves Forward With Building Code

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Stakeholders and persons of interest had their say yesterday, when the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) hosted a public session to discuss the latest amendments to the National Building Code at the Warrens Office Complex, Warrens.

Participants were drawn from a range of industries, including agriculture, architecture and construction.

??The existing Code dates back to 1993, and current revisions are being outlined to improve building standards for structures across the island ranging from kiosks, to buildings and swimming pools.

?????????????????? Chief Technical Officer at the BNSI, Fabian Scott, explained that a standard is established by consensus, is used to provide solutions for repeated use, and can be used within various sectors.?? The common factor, however, is consistency in the quality of products or services offered to the public.

?????????????????? "Standards promote consistent quality and economic production, they simplify construction, rationalise processes and methods of construction…?? If you have one common document that rationalises your process in building…in that vein you usually get economies of scale and, therefore, your production becomes easier and cheaper," Mr. Scott said.

The Chief Technical Officer further pointed out that these Codes also protect, improve and, ultimately, save human lives. He cited the tragedies experienced this year in Haiti and in Barbados, where structural integrity may have contributed to loss of life as examples.?? Mr. Scott explained that compliance with building codes can reduce casualties and added that as development in Barbados expands to include high rise buildings and larger accommodations, Codes will become an increasing concern.

"As we begin to build higher and higher buildings, those buildings will need to address fire safety…and earthquakes, so a building code will look to address those issues.?? What we’re trying to do is have a document that’s fit for purpose, that will do what it is intended to do.?? It will control variety, where we have many different methods of construction, it will address safety, it will address the protection of occupants and users, and it will also protect you, the contractors.?? Once you have complied, your method of construction will inevitably be more secure," Mr. Scott assured.

This emphasis on public safety was shared by Technical Officer at the BNSI, Jonathan Platt, who delved into some of the specifics of the additional Codes under discussion – namely parts 16, 17 and 18. Part 16, which addresses electrical installations, takes into consideration suitable aids for the hearing impaired in cases of emergency.?? Part 17, which offers guidelines for in-built systems, considers the safety implications when using miscellaneous structures, such as kiosks, stages and bus shelters. ??One element, Mr. Platt highlighted, was the need for flame resistant tarpaulin for tents and similar structures.?? With regard to in-built systems, the subject matter for Part 18, issues such as contamination risks came into play with regard to the correct application and use of drainage systems and liquefied gas.??

Although compliance with the Code is voluntary, Mr. Platt explained that efforts are being made to make it mandatory under law, but reminded the audience that the BNSI’s mandate concerns creation of the Code.

"BNSI are the authors, not the enforcers.?? So the BSA (Building Standards Authority) are the ones under the Act, when it’s passed, they’ll have the authority to ensure persons are in compliance with parts 1 to 18. BNSI will continue to update the building code where necessary," he explained.

The Code amendments under discussion are currently at the draft stage and must go through a series of processes before they can be published.?? Mr. Scott emphasised that this is essential, since it gives the persons who will be affected by changes the opportunity to make an input.

"Consumers bring a unique perspective to the creation of voluntary standards and regulations…and we will take those comments into consideration when the draft is being done.?? Standardisation allows consumers to have confidence in quality and reliability of products and services.?? That level of confidence increases significantly with consumer participation in the standardisation process," he said, adding that Parts 1 to 15 of the Code should soon be available, whilst Parts 16, 17 and 18 should be published by next year.

All persons, from homeowners to those in the construction industry, may comment on these latter amendments until Saturday, December 20.?? Copies are available for public review at the BNSI, Flodden, Culloden Road, St. Michael and at the National Library, Bridgetown. For more information on the Codes, contact Jonathan Platt at 426-3870 or jplatt@bnsi.gov.bb .??

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