Businessowners’ Efforts to be Safer When Re-Opening Might Actually be MORE Dangerous

May 20, 2020

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Businessowners’ Efforts to be Safer When Re-Opening Might Actually be MORE Dangerous

Now, during Building Safety Month, it’s as important as ever to remember that buildings are designed with the intention to provide safe exit in an emergency, proper ventilation, and sprinkler coverage. Dividers between workstations, salon chairs and dining tables will become more common as businesses start to reopen in the coming weeks. Please remind businesses to be aware that many materials that seem easy to clean and impervious to germ transmission might be hazardous to the other safety systems in your space. It is not safe to hang sheets of plastic or shower curtains from the ceiling of a commercial building. Highly combustible material that produces thick black toxic smoke . . . what could possibly go wrong!

These dividers are considered “Decorative Materials” and are regulated by the building code. They are limited in size and placement and must be tested by an approved agency such as NFPA. Additionally, in buildings with sprinklers, they may only be located where they do not obstruct the sprinkler heads. In all cases, exit signs and the clear path to safely exit the building must remain visible and obvious. 

While the approach may be valid and with the best intentions, these dividers cannot be safely installed without specific knowledge of the applicable codes. Hire an architect, who is trained and licensed to help navigate the redesign and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. 





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