Technical committees for NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, are considering proposed changes to the 2018 edition of the code that would address the risk of falls in baths and showers.
Authored by Ron Coté, principal life safety engineer at NFPA, the article looks at grab bar changes being made to “address a significant public health problem, one raised in the substantiation for the Public Inputs proposing these new provisions.”
Coté writes that the substantiation documented some eye-opening findings:
» The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that for the product code of bathtubs or showers, there were more than 262,000 visits to U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2010;
» On a risk-per-use basis, each step into and out of a bathing facility without grab bars is more dangerous than taking a step up or down on a stair;
» Bathtub or shower users encounter wet surfaces that are generally hard and smooth, adversely affecting slip resistance; stepping over tub walls creates additional ambulation challenges; and that no countermeasures are commonly installed to mitigate the fall danger.
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