Background Since about 1940 the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) has been produced by the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC). However, in recent decades, home stairway design requirements have not been based on the best available research, including NRCC's own. Injury data for Canada's largest province (Ontario) suggest a rate of hospital-admitted stair-related injuries twice that of the USA (30 vs 15 per 100 000 population).
Objectives With built environment regulation being a reliable mechanism for stair-related injury prevention, the objective is to improve NBCC requirements.
Methods Beginning in the mid 1970s, NRCC research staff attempted to work with NBCC-development committees, both to apply what was scientifically known about stairway safety and to encourage new research. Many research-based, code-change proposals were submitted in 1992. In 2011, the International Conference on Stairway Usability and Safety established consensus on research evidence justifying improved requirements.
Outcomes Key proposals from 1992 have not yet been processed. In 2010, several task groups were formed and many recommendations for code changes, on stairways, were drafted. However, task groups report to a committee that, since the 1970s, has been dominated by home builders highly resistant to changes.
Significance NBCC-development policies and procedures, increasingly influenced by an industry-dominated Canadian Federal Government, pose old and new impediments to improved home design requirements and reduced, stairway-related injury tolls.
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