(From the Professional Deck Builder On-line Oct. 13, 2017, the following is a summary from the article.)

The Value of an ICC Guideline

Plan reviewers and inspectors are left without guidance – beyond DCA-6  – on any proposed alternative details that would have sufficient strength to safely resist the code-mandated 200-lb. concentrated load requirement. Some contractors argue – without any testing evidence – that there are other 4×4 guard post connection details that are safe. But without that evidence, and because of the gap in the current IRC on how to prescriptively construct a guard post attachment to a deck, the code community faces the near impossible task of ensuring that deck guard constructions they approve will in fact safely resist the code specified design load in-service.

Until a proposal to the IRC for prescriptive guard post details is finally approved and adopted, an ICC Guideline could be valuable in an attempt to protect life and prevent fall injuries/fatalities from decks and balconies.   Plan reviewers need a concise document that addresses the complicated issue of guard post attachment to decks.  The value of the proposed Guideline is vast—all residential plan reviewers can benefit from an ICC published Guideline by using it in deck/balcony plan checking and inspection until this life safety issue is addressed by the IRC, hopefully within the next decade.

Figure 1. The simulated deck joist/band/guard post configuration tested by the team at Virginia Tech; the connector easily passed the load tests and formed the basis for the details adopted by the AWC DCA6.

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