If you’re like most health care facility professionals you know that conflicts in building codes can be a real headache. Unnecessary and conflicting codes and regula­tions can be costly, and the resources spent to comply with contradicting requirements could be better put to use addressing other issues.

One of the goals of American Society for Health Care Engineering’s (ASHE) unified codes imperative is 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.

As part of ASHE’s ongoing efforts, the organization partnered with the International Code Council (ICC) to form the Committee on Health Care (CHC). Since 2011 this committee 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 ICC CHC has developed hundreds of proposals to help align the ICC codes with other health care codes and standards.

Over the last four weeks, the CHC participated 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. 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.

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 1 pound per square foot, combined with a fully ducted HVAC system, to serve as part of the system to limit the transfer of smoke. This exception aligns the IBC with the current requirements within the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code ®, allowing hospitals to avoid this conflict between the IBC and Life Safety Code.

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. To learn more about the ICC CHC efforts visit the committee’s webpage