Safety Measures in the Work Place for People With Disabilities: a comparison between USA
and Italy
Shirley Confino Rehder
Stefano Marsella
Annalisa Morini1
The integration and independence of people into society starts with the ability to work and be
totally integrated in a working society. Offices and factories must be accessible and usable by
everybody and safety within these environments must be ensured. New technology and the
implementation of accommodations make this possible. To insure implementation safety measures
of most industries are now regulated and checked at frequent intervals.
The United States, traditionally, has a more pragmatic approach because of unions, laws and
employee demands, while Italy applies new concepts with the support of specific regulations. Both
countries have laws guaranteeing a minimal standard level of safety. Laws must also take into
account a Universal Design approach using specific support for specific needs.
This presentation will show the principal technical measures being used to insure safety for all
people, will discuss how safety laws are implemented, compare the common aspects of
employment safety between the United States and Italy and what the methodology to insure the
achievement of these standards are. It will describe how safety in the work place benefits all.
Shirley Confino Rehder is a designer, Universal Design consultant, Norfolk, Virginia, USA;
Stefano Marsella is an engineer, Ministry of Interior, Dept. of Fire Services, Head of Fire Services, Arezzo
Province, Italy;
Annalisa Morini is a researcher, National Research Council (CNR), Institute for Construction Technologies
(ITC), Responsible of Unit of Rome, Italy.
"If you compromise on safety-you compromise on life" (Nichols 2000)
Safety issues in the workplace have always been the focus in building and labor codes.
Since September 11, 2001, building codes, architectural and industrial design parameters, and
educational courses are changing and being developed internationally focusing on human safety,
prevention of disasters, anti-terrorist attacks, and biometric warfare. This section will introduce and
discuss some measures currently being taken in the United States to address safety issues for
everyone for the future. Four sectors will be examined:
1. Building codes and standards;
2. Tall buildings – history, criticism, fact;
3. Performance based design and safety codes– a new parameter to address safety;
4. People, Safety and Disasters
New and changes in codes result from disasters. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in
1911 changed fire and building codes, especially with regard to means of egress. The Coconut
Grove fire in 1942 changed requirements for construction materials and egress. The Beverly Hills
Supper Club fire in 1977 changed the codes' approach to fire sprinklers in nightclubs and places of
assembly (Ballanco 2001). The terrorist attack in the basement of the World Trade Center in 1993
resulted in improvements like better exit-stair lighting (Pauls 2001), and better communications,
evacuation procedures and procedures to assist people with disabilities (Gold, December 2001).
The attack and destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 has
escalated attention on safety in design, education and code changes, particularly in tall buildings.
The Cook County office building fire, killing six people in Chicago in October 2003, has led to the
inclusion of automatic unlocking of doors in stairwells of high rise buildings (Napolitano 2003). The
nightclub fire in February 2003 in Warwick Rhode Island, killing a total of 112 people, has created a
review of thresholds for automatic fire sprinkler protection, interior finishes and decorations, egress
and exiting arrangements, application of code requirements, inspections and permits, general
admission seating, and the education of crowd managers. All of these incidences, and others
resulting in changes, have affected The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Life Safety
Code (NFPA 2002).
The consolidation of services, products and operations of the three national leading building
safety organizations, the Building Officials and Code Administrators, (BOCA), International
Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) and the Southern Building Code Congress International
(SBCI), into one member service organization, the International Code Council (ICC) means that it
has united “…our nation's leading building safety experts under one common goal—to serve public
health and safety…This will ensure that”, more than 97% of United States cities will “...receive
quality technical and educational services that support the ICC International Codes[ICodes]”...”This will help in creating a single model code system that will set the standard for
building safety.” (West 2002).2
The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) unveiled a new strategic management
plan for the next five years. Dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses and
protecting America's workers in the workplace, their goals are: a 3% drop in construction fatalities
and a one percent drop in general industry fatalities for years 2003-2004; a 4% drop in injuries and
illnesses in construction, general industry, and high hazard industries; to use cooperative and
outreach programs to workplace violence, and motor vehicle accidents; and to focus on emergency
preparedness, education workplaces to respond natural disasters or terrorist attacks.(2003)
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 and The American With Disabilities Accessibility
Guidelines (ADAAG) 1991.
Specifically written for people with disabilities, the ADA protects the civil rights of people
with disabilities. Addressing employment, telecommunications, government and commercial
buildings, public accommodations, and transportation this law covers every social and working
public aspect of daily life to help insure integration of everyone to the best of their abilities. Written
and amended by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access
Board) the ADAAG is the technical and scooping specifications to assist in complying with the law.
The ADAAG is considered an extension of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards
(UFAS) of 1973. The format and technical criteria of both stem from private sector voluntary
standards first developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1961.
“Accessible Means of Egress (ADAAG 4.1.3(9), (4.3.10). ADAAG ’s criteria for accessible
means of egress, like those in other building requirements, address both the required number and
the technical specifications. The minimum number of egress routes required to be accessible is
based on life safety code requirements for means of egress. Most of the criteria for accessible
routes, such as width and the treatment of elevation changes, are applied to accessible means of
egress to ensure access for persons with disabilities, including those with mobility impairments.
Multi-story buildings pose a particular challenge to accessible means of egress since elevators, the
standard means of access between floors, are typically taken out of service in emergencies for
safety purposes. ADAAG addresses this situation through requirements for areas of rescue
assistance or horizontal exits. Evacuation elevators, which are recognized by the model building
codes but not the current ADAAG, offer an additional solution.
Areas of Rescue Assistance (ADAAG 4.2.3(9), (4.1.3(11). ADAAG provides requirements
for fire-resistant spaces where persons unable to use stairs can call for and await evacuation
assistance from emergency personnel. Known as "areas of rescue assistance" or "areas of
refuge," these spaces must meet specifications for fire resistance and ventilation. They are often
incorporated into the design of fire stair landings, but can be provided in other recognized locations
meeting the design specifications, including those for fire and smoke protection. Areas of rescue
assistance must include two-way communication devices so that users can place a call for
evacuation assistance. ADAAG requires areas of rescue assistance in new buildings only. An
exception is provided for buildings equipped with sprinkler systems that have built-in signals used
to monitor the system’s features. Horizontal exits, which use fire barriers, separation, and other
means to help contain the spread of fire on a floor, can substitute for areas of rescue assistance
provided they meet applicable building codes. Horizontal exits enable occupants to evacuate from
one area of a building to another area or building on approximately the same level that provides
safety from smoke and fire. Life safety codes and model building codes provide requirements for
horizontal exits
Evacuation Elevators (Proposed ADAAG 207,409). Emergency personnel may operate
standard elevators in certain emergencies through the use of a special key. In some cases, it may
be possible to evacuate people with disabilities in this manner. This, however, is not always an
option. Model building codes, such as the International Building Code, and referenced standards
now include criteria for elevators that are specially designed to remain functional in emergencies.
Known as "evacuation elevators," they feature, among other things, back-up power supply and
pressurization and ventilation systems to prevent smoke build-up. This type of elevator was not
generally recognized when ADAAG was first developed. The Board has included requirements for
these elevators that are consistent with the model building codes, in its proposal to update
ADAAG. Most recent model building codes now require this technology in new mid-rise and highrise buildings.
Alarms (ADAAG 4.1.3(14), 4.28). ADAAG provides specifications for emergency alarms so
that they are accessible to persons with disabilities, including those with sensory impairments.
Where emergency alarm systems are provided, they must meet criteria that address audible and
visual features. Visual strobes serve to notify people who or deaf or hard of hearing that the alarm
has sounded. ADAAG specifications for visual appliances address intensity, flash rate, mounting
location, and other characteristics. In general, it is not sufficient to install visual signals only at
audible alarm locations. Audible alarms installed in corridors and lobbies can be heard in adjacent
rooms but a visual signal can be observed only within the space it is located. Visual alarms are
required in hallways, lobbies, restrooms, and any other general usage and common use areas,
such as meeting and conference rooms, classrooms, cafeterias, employee break rooms, dressing
rooms, examination rooms and similar spaces.
Signage (ADAAG 4.1.3(16), (4.30). Requirements in ADAAG for building signage specify
that certain types of signs are required to be tactile. Raised and Braille characters are required on
signs that designate permanent spaces. This is intended to cover signs typically placed at
doorways, such as room and exit labels, because doorways provide a tactile cue in locating signs.
Tactile specifications also apply to signs labeling rooms whose function, and thus designation, is
not likely to change over time. Examples include signs labeling restrooms, exits, and rooms and
floors designated by numbers or letters. This includes floor level designations provided in
stairwells. ADAAG also addresses informational and directional signs. These types of signs are
not required to be tactile but must meet criteria for legibility, such as character size and proportion,
contrast, and sign finish. The types of directional and informational signs covered include those
that provide direction to exits and information on egress routes.” (Access Board 2002)
“Special planning for disabled workers is essentially required under the Americans with
Disabilities Act for buildings with evacuation plans, although the act doesn't impose specific
requirements”, said Larry Perry, author of a building managers guide to emergency planning. Perry
said he believes most large buildings with evacuation plans have special provisions for the
disabled. Those include things like the special emergency chairs for stairs and designating people
to help disabled workers. (2001)
June Kailes, a Los Angeles consultant on disability issues who works on disaster
preparedness drawing up evacuation plans feels that “people with disabilities need to be consulted
and at the table as these plans are really put together, reviewed and practised.” (2001) OSHA says
employees should think about creating a “buddy system.”(2001).
Brian Black, director of building codes and standards for the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans
Association said that “while large buildings generally do have evacuation plans, provisions for
disabled workers are “hit and miss”. (2001)
There have been many critical editorials written and then revisited after September 11,
2001about the tall building:
"The first alternative to Modern Dogma should obviously be a moratorium on high-rise
construction. It is outrageous that towers more than a hundred stories high are being built at a time
when no honest engineer and no honest architect, anywhere on earth, can say for certain what
these structures will do to the environment -- in terms of monumental congestion of services
(including roads and mass-transit lines), in terms of wind currents at sidewalk level, in terms of
surrounding water tables, in terms of fire hazards, in terms of various sorts of interior traumata, in
terms of despoiling the neighborhoods, in terms of visually polluting the skylines of our cities, and
in terms of endangering the lives of those within or without, through conceivable structural and
related failures". (Blake 1977).
“Tall buildings have been blamed for crime, mental breakdowns, the generation of urban
pathologies – they deform the quality, the function, and the long-term health of urbanism in general
by overloading the infrastructure and the public realm of the streets that contain them” (Krier 1984).
And after September 11:
“We are convinced that the age of skyscrapers is at an end. It must now be considered an
experimental building typology that has failed. We predict that no new mega towers will be built,
and existing ones are destined to be dismantled.” (Kunstler, Salingaros 2001)
And, blaming The Twin Towers itself to be the reason for the terrorist attack, claiming that
they were: “… a prominent modernist architectural symbol that was specifically targeted to be
attacked and destroyed;… (ii) the leading terrorists (Mohamed Atta and Osama bin Laden) had an
architecture /urbanist/construction background…that the third world -- and the Islamic world in
particular -- feels a rage towards the United States…least in part due to the modernist architectural
and urban models we have” (Salingaros 2002).
Frank Duffy, architect, makes his point about the tall building in an interview with the
Guardian Unlimited, a British newspaper: “Of course it’s (the destruction of the World Trade
Center) not the end of the skyscraper. You can’t design an indestructible building, much less an
indestructible city. Even if you did away with high-rise buildings and dispersed the city and knitted it
together with the internet, its electronic intelligence, its money-making ability, could be destroyed
by computer viruses. You don’t need to kill people to undermine an economy, although you might
want to for reason of revenge and sheer terror.”(2001)
In the authors opinion, we will never stop building tall buildings, it make sense both
economically and functionally. But we must change our attitudes in the design process and
reestablish our goals for the reason of the design. Safety for all must always be foremost in the
design and part of function and aesthetics. Hopefully structural design, building codes, and
evacuation education will reflect everything that has been learned from the past disasters.
“The 56” wide stairways” in the World Trade Center “were superior to those of many office
buildings”, Jake Pauls, a renown expert on stair design said (Pauls, 2001), “and improvements like
better lighting and ventilation installed after the 1993 basement bombing of the trade center helped
save lives. Although the death toll of occupants and rescue workers was high”, he said,” thousands
did get out in a relatively short time.” …In his opinion ” the tower stairs, like those in most office
buildings, could have been improved with such things as continuous handrails with no gaps from
top to bottom to aid people descending in poor lighting conditions.”
New parameters of design processes are being written and advocated (Meacham 1998;
Bukowski 2001). A survey of both performance based design and code process follows:
Performance-based design process: (versus prescriptive design). Safety solutions designed to
achieve a specified goal for a specified use or application. This process allows performance-based
documents to be implemented and insures that their goals are met.
• Establish safety goals;
• Evaluate the condition of the occupants, building contents, process equipment or facility in
question with regard to safety;
• Identify potential hazards;
• Define appropriate hazard scenarios;
• Establish performance objective and performance criteria;
• Select suitable calculation methods (e.g. computer models);
• Develop a proposed solution;
• Assess the proposed solution;
• Obtain approval of the proposed solution.
Within this new paradigm designing and specifying products and finishes that has high
functionality and achieve higher safety standards rather than minimum prescribed standards will be
in demand. Advocates claim that the benefits of performance-based design will be increased
design flexibility, greater cost efficiency, better structural and fire performance, increased safety,
and improved global competitiveness.
Performance-based codes for a safer built environment (vs. prescriptive code solutions.)
• Establish safety goals;
• Reference approved methods that demonstrate compliance with their requirements;
• Demonstration of such satisfaction with engineering analysis using accepted methods and
data, demonstrative testing, or experience with similar products or systems in similar
applications (expert judgment).
The document may be phrased as a method for quantifying equivalencies to an existing
prescriptive-based code or standard, or it may identify one or more prescriptive codes or standards
as approved solutions. Either way, the document allows the use of any solution that demonstrates
compliance. (NFPA 2002)
Performance based design has been used in the aerospace field. There is a goal and you
find the best, safest way of reaching it. Maybe now, in architecture and design, we will be able to
go past the “norms” and use this opportunity to create safer environments to benefit everyone.
Michael Benfante and John Cerqueira were fleeing the Network Plus offices on the 81st
floor of the WTC when they encountered a disabled woman, Tina Hansen. The two Network Plus
employees carried Hansen, who was in a wheelchair specially designed for emergencies, down 68
floors to safety.
Avremet Zeimanowitz worked in the World Trade Center. On September 11th he elected to
stay behind with his friend and colleague, Ed Beyea, a quadriplegic, to wait for rescue workers.
Starting from the 27th floor, they were able to get to the 21TH floor before the building collapsed. No
one knows what triggers heroic behaviour in a crisis. No one knows what triggers any behaviour in
a crisis.
On December 11, 2001 the National Organization on Disability published the findings on
the Harris Interactive Survey of 1011 people, fifteen percent of which were disabled, concerning
their feeling of preparedness for future crises. 58% of people with disabilities did not know their
community contact for emergency plans; 50 % had no plans to safely evacuate their workplace;
and 44% were more anxious about their personal safety than those without any disability. Eighteen
percent of respondents with disabilities said they are extremely or very anxious, compared with just
eight percent of others. Forty-four percent of people with disabilities are at least somewhat
anxious, the poll found.
We cannot build a city to withstand every disaster, but we can be better prepared. We can
address our emergency procedures and develop and practice evacuation plans that include people
with disabilities and the frail; learn more about the behaviour of structural and infrastructure
systems under various threats and attacks and natural disasters and design with safety and high
performance rather than standards that are outdated; we can be better educated and practice Life
Safety Codes for clear paths of egress, develop cost-effective changes to national practices and
standards; better prepare and equip facility owners, contractors, designers, first responders and
emergency personnel for future disasters; learn to understand human behaviours in the face of
crisis and be more educated for our own personal safety.
In Italy, fire safety deals with two sets of rules: the fire safety ones and the workplaces
safety rules. The two groups are independently issued: Ministry of Labour provides for workplaces
safety and Ministry of Interior provides for fire safety rules, but there is a very good degree of
coordination among them (Marsella and Mirabelli 2002).
The main normative reference in this group of rules is the Ministerial Decree DM 10-03-98
“General fire safety criteria to deal with emergency in working places”, issued after the European
directive set of workplace safety (Ministero degli Interni, 1998)3. It points out the criteria for the
assessment of fire risks in working places and the fire prevention and protection measures to be
adopted in order to reduce the possibility of fire onset. This decree intends also to set the criteria to
limit the fire consequences if it actually starts and deals with the assessment of fire risks,
preventive, protective and precautionary service measures. An important point of the decree is the
onset of control and maintenance of fire-fighting installations and equipment procedures and the
regulation of emergency in the event of fire. According to Italian workplaces laws, in every
workplace (no matter of its dimension) at least one person in charge of fire-fighting service has to
be appointed, Training of the persons in charge of fire prevention, fire-fighting activities and
management of emergencies are other important responsibilities of the employer.
In the part concerning the criteria for the assessment of the risk in case of fire, the decree
presents a structure very similar to the interpretative document of the essential requirement n. 2 of
the EU construction products directive (EU 1988), regarding safety in case of fire, so the decree is
coordinated with the European legislation. It sets out that the employer must take all measures to:
• reduce the probability of a fire onset;
• realize emergency ways out and exits to guarantee a safe evacuation of people in the event
of fire;
• apply all measures to promptly signal a fire in order to start up alarm systems and to put
into operation the necessary intervention procedures;
• put out the fire in compliance with the criteria contained in annex V;
• guarantee the effectiveness of fire protection systems;
• provide workers with an appropriate information and training about the risks related to a fire.
It must be added that for buildings of height > 24 m the conformity of the project to the rules
prescription is controlled by Fire fighters, that can ask the project to satisfy more strict safety
A specific law in 1961 (Legge 1961), n.469, states the Ministry of the Interior has to protect
people against fire and explosion hazards. So the Ministry has issued during the last forty years
fire prevention rules (adopted with ministerial decree) for civil buildings and technological plants.
While at the beginning the rules gave prescription concerning the works and the products, in the
last years the decrees do not deal anymore with product problems, given that the entire matter is
under the European commission responsibility.
Among the different decrees, for tall buildings no specific standard is available. The only reference
standard is the Ministerial Decree n.246 of 1987 “Fire safety rules for civil housing” (Ministero
dell’Interno 1987), together with the Ministry Communication 91/61 (Ministero dell’Interno 1961)
and more updated rules concerning fire resistance of structures. Such a decree contains in
particular, the following prescription for buildings with height > 80 m. :
Maximum surface of the compartment: 2000 sq.m;
Maximum surface for each staircase: 350 sq.m;
Type of stairwell: smoke-proof with width = 1,20 m;
In Italy there are laws and decrees (DLgs, DM, DPR, DPCM, circolari): from the application point of view, there is no
diffference among them, they must be obligatory respected as norm at the same level. The origin of the initiative and the
approval are different: law is established by Parliament, while the other decrees are delegated by Parliament to
Government or a Ministry, usually for a specific topic.
Stairwell and door opening: REI 120.
In 1968 the first rule concerning accessibility of building has been issued as ministerial
letter of the Ministry of Public Works (Ministero dei Lavori Pubblici 1968). In 1974 the first decree of
the President of Republic (Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 1974) obliged public building
designers to adopt accessibility rules. In 1989 a Ministerial Decree (Ministero dei Lavori Pubblici
1989), concerning accessibility of civil and public buildings, stated that in every building each floor
had to be divided into two fire resisting parts, in order to let disabled people survive while rescuers
where working. Such rule has been observed only seldom, because the rule itself was not issued
has a safety rule but has a good construction requirement. The same rules where repeated in the
decree of the President of Republic of 1996 (Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica, 1996) with
the same goals and results.
In the recent years a group born in the Ministry of the Interior (Fire-Fighters national Corps),
together with the major disabled people associations, some universities and the National Research
Council (CNR), has started to study the problem trying to coordinate the accessibility rules with the
fire safety criteria. In some cases, in fact, accessibility requirements do not match safety rules (for
example the presence of sliding doors in the means of egress, the use of elevators, etc).
As a result of such involvement, which turned to be rather heavy, in 2002 has been issued
a Ministerial Communication ( Minister dell’Interno 2002), which sets out the criteria to project or to
upgrade workplace to safety needs of disabled people. Such circular let employers to reach a good
level of safety even with emergency management measures. In March 2003 a small guide
concerning such item has been issued by the same group, which is now defining which
accessibility features are relevant to people safety. Such document should be issued by the end of
2003 and should let building designer and employers to project buildings and upgrade workplaces
to the needs of the widest range of persons satisfying both accessibility and safety rules.
On April 18th 2002 a small airplane crushed against a tall building in Milan (Fig.1). The
building, called “Pirelli skyscraper” was built in the early Sixties and conforms to the sector’s
standards and all their amendments. Even if it is not a recent building, it outlines an innovatory and
high-technology nature: structures represent an example of excellent application of the standard
concerning fire resistance since they are conceived and planned following state-of-the-art criteria
for tall buildings made of reinforced concrete, which ensures a considerable passive safety.
Figure 1. Pirellone, Milan, April 18 2002.
The accident occurred to the Pirelli skyscraper once again raises attention and brings up the need
for an accurate prevention and protection action and most of all a plan for dealing with emergency
in the event of fire. The crush occurred during afternoon hours, when the building was not
crowded. The normal and emergency electric power immediately was cut off and people had to run
away using the stairs. During such emergency two main case histories can be studied: the case of
a disabled girl and the case of a woman, which has been closed in an elevator for some hours.
1. Disabled girl egress. In the afternoon of April 18th, a young woman with quadriplegia was in
the building. She was in the 24th floor at the moment of the event, together with her father
and a friend of them. There are no records of the time the egress through the stairs
needed, but the operation was carried out with the help of the two men and other four
2. Woman in the elevator. The explosion that followed the impact of the plane on the building
has caused an overpressure wave that has pushed the elevator outside the rails. In one of
them, between the 3rd and the 4th floor, there was a woman. There was no way for the
rescue team to unlock the cabin, so a group of fire fighters, using ropes, descended from
the 12th floor and tried to pull her up, passing through the manhole of the cabin roof. In this
case the most of the difficulties faced by the rescue team were connected to the panic of
the woman, which did not want to follow the instruction of the fire-fighters. Only after
several tens of minutes she let them pull to the nearest open door.
We know difficulties arising when trying to compare two situations in two different countries,
but the aim is worthwhile and also very simple: to verify what can be used in one country that the
other did not think about or, at least, did not pay the same attention.
After September 11, for example, everybody knows that new measures must be adopted to
enhance the safety level without being necessary to test in his/her own country the same terrible
Just to give an example of technical rule, in USA ADA was decided that “new buildings
that do not require supervised automatic sprinkler systems must provide areas of rescue
assistance on each level that does not have an accessible exit. They must have a smoke-proof
and fire resistant enclosure and have communication with the outsid”’ (see the paragraph on
building codes). They did not specify the type of building, or its utilization. In Italy, sprinkler systems
are adopted only in some building types and therefore new constructions would have at least the
areas of rescue assistance. But, until now, it is not so, because our technical specifications
devoted to those areas concern for the moment only the following types of buildings: hotels,
hospitals and locals for shows such as cinemas and theatres.
This is due to the Italian way of preparing and producing laws: when rules for a building
type are updated, then the updating tries to cover all the aspects, from quality to safety and
security, plants and so on. Therefore, many types of buildings, for example tall buildings, if not
used as one of the three types described above, have not yet the areas of rescue assistance.
On the contrary, because now the problem of safety for people with disabilities is under
study in the working group within the Ministry of Interior, criteria which will be adopted could be
useful also for other countries and are very similar to those already adopted in USA (of course,
with slight differences), because the approach is very pragmatic and ‘American style’, starting with
a sort of check list which must be filled by any responsible for emergency situations in any building,
without requiring specific technical skills.
Another element of comparison is undoubtedly energies (both human and financial
resources) devoted in USA to courses, training and information meetings having the goal of better
preparing people against possible terrorist attacks. So, the prevention activity is enormously
increased, trying to enhance not only the safety and security levels, but also the psychological
approach on how to face these, partly new, at least in the dimension and diffusion levels,
problems. In Italy only schools have the same diffusion level of prevention activity in courses, also
in the working places the approach is more bureaucratic (just to decide who is the responsible for
safety measures or to held the coordination meetings established by law) than effective.
As regards the design approach, we noticed that both countries are now working on
performance based design rather than prescriptive ones and this is an element which allows
reaching results more suitable and therefore more useful. We must ‘loose time’ or, better, take
more time in the design phase, in order to save time and efforts n the construction and running
phases. But analyzing deeper the two approaches, we noticed that simulation models are not yet
applied in Italy, at least not in a diffused way, while in USA they constitute a specific part of the
performance-based design procedure.
We strongly believe that the circulation of ideas and the exchange of experiences can
contribute to improve this field (as any other) and enhance the level of safety and security for all.
We are also conscious that many aspects must be improved, both parts but generally in the world,
above all for what concern the building stock. In fact, if new constructions are facilitated by new
rules, existing buildings must be adequately updated at least under the safety and security
During our analysis, we do not find much attention related to the improvement of the
building stock, both parts. We know that in USA is more common to destroy and build again rather
than to renew, but the percentage of the stock is high even with this way of behaving.
Our suggestion is therefore related to sensitize policy makers and technicians in
approaching the field considering the whole stock, giving so the possibility to really improve the
safety level in any built environment. We are also conscious that we could not reach the complete
accessibility and the same technical rules for any people, but this must remain our goal, trying to
improve, to better, and to ameliorate.
American with Disabilities Act 1990. Standards for Accessible Design, Sections and 4.3.11
pp. 35614 and 35626.
Ballanco, J 2001.Terror and the Codes,10. PMEngineer, October 16.
Ballanco, J. 2003. NFPA Acts Quickly to Address Nightclub Disasters, PMEngineer, March 17.
Blake, P. 1977. Form Follows Fiasco: why modern architecture hasn’t worked, Boston, Little
Brown. p. 82.
Bukowski, R. W., 2001. Benefits of Innovative, Less Flammable Products in an Era of
Performance-Based Bulding and Fire Codes. Proceedings. Fire Retardant Chemicals Association
(FRCA). March 11-14, San Francisco, CA.
Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 1978. n. 384, del 27-04-1978, Regolamento di attuazione
della L. 30 marzo 1971, n.118, a favore dei mutilati e invalidi civili, in materia di barriere
architettoniche e trasporti pubblici. (Rules for applying the law of 1971 related to accessibility of
buildings and public transports).
Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 1996. n.503, del 24-7-1996, Regolamento recante norme
per l’eliminazione delle barriere architettoniche negli edifici, spazi e servizi pubblici. (Rules for
improving accessibility of public buildings).
EU, Council Directive 1988. n. 89/106/EEC of 21 December 1988, On the approximation of laws,
regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to construction products.
Glancey, J. 2001. Reaching for the Sky, The Guardian Unlimited. September 15. 2001. New Focus on Evacuating the Disabled. October 4.
Gold, D. 2001. International Labour Organization, World of Work, Number 41, December.
Krier, L. 1984. Houses, Palaces, Cities, St. Martin's Press.
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