Building Safety Month – May 2021

May

Building Safety Month is an international campaign that takes place throughout May globally to raise awareness regarding building safety. It stresses the importance of adopting modern building codes and helps people understand the importance of having a safe building structure. The International Code Council, with its 64,000 members, along with professionals from building-, design-, and safety communities join hands with governments and corporations to promote building safety through events, briefings, and more. It is to stress the safety of the spaces where all of us live, work, and play.

History of Building Safety Month

Building Safety Month aims to raise awareness about the importance of building codes so that the general public has all the necessary info to ensure the safety of their homes, workplaces, and more.

While the phrase ‘building codes’ may sound like a modern concept, it can be traced back to about 2000 B.C. during the reign of Hammurabi, the founder of the Babylonian Empire.

In the U.S., the first building codes were established in 1625 to address fire safety and specific materials as coverings for roofs. In 1630, Boston scrapped the use of chimneys made from wood and roof coverings made of thatch. And, during the late 1770s, George Washington recommended that area- and height limitations be imposed on wood-frame buildings in Columbia district plans. 1788 was the year that saw the first formal building code written in the U.S. (in old Salem, a place notorious for its fires). More U.S. cities started to establish building codes in the early 1800s and, finally, New Orleans became the first city in 1865 to enact a law that required the inspection of public places.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington encouraged the development of building regulations to offer minimum standards to building residents for health and safety. Exit requirements became more prominent by 1862. These were followed by plumbing regulations in around 1880, and elevator and hoist regulations in 1883. It was during the 1880s that steel frames emerged and paved the way for tall buildings and skyscrapers.

Building Safety Month timeline

1915
The First National Building Code

The Building Office and Code Administration (BOCA) is formed to develop the U.S.'s first national building code.

1927
Uniform Building Code

A group called the International Council of Building Officials develops the Uniform Building Code, mostly for the western parts of the U.S.

1972
Council of American Building Officials

All the building code groups join hands to form the Council of American Building Officials (CABO) and draft one universal building code model for the U.S.

1994
International Code Council

The Council of American Building Officials is consolidated into the International Code Council.

Building Safety Month FAQs

Is there any U.S. state without building codes?

Yes. The states without building codes include Hawaii, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Alabama, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Missouri.

What is the largest structure you can build without a permit?

Any structure that is over 12 feet in height and takes up more than 200 square feet of space requires a building permit.

Which U.S. state has the strictest building codes?

Florida, being at the top of the hurricane-prone list of U.S. states, has the strictest codes for residential buildings.

How to Observe Building Safety Month

  1. Spread awareness

    Reach out to more people and make them understand the importance of building codes and standards. It is crucial for the building of any kind of space, be it for living, learning, or anything else.

  2. Promote better living standards

    It is important that any space or building follows the building codes. Read up on and learn about the codes and promote them in your neighborhood.

  3. Spread awareness on social media

    Use your social media platforms to spread the word about Building Safety Month and building codes. Share articles and use the hashtag #BuildingSafety or #BuildingSafetyMonth.

5 Facts About Building Safety That You Should Know

  1. Life inside buildings

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Policy, 90% of our lives are spent inside buildings.

  2. Huge energy consumption

    Buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of total energy consumption in the U.S.

  3. Fires of history

    The great fires in the history of mankind that have led to the development of building codes include the Great Fire of Rome (64 A.D.), the Great Fire of London (1666), the Great Chicago Fire(1871), the Great Baltimore Fire (1904), and the Cleveland Clinic Fire (1929).

  4. Fire protection

    The MGM Grand fire in Las Vegas in 1980 and the Station Nightclub fire of Rhode Island in 2003 led to the addition of fire prevention systems like sprinkler systems, exit lights, and more.

  5. I-Codes

    The International Code Council has a set of 15 model codes specified on the basis of geographic locations and these are collectively called ‘I-Codes.’

Why Building Safety Month Is Significant

  1. It spreads awareness

    Building Safety Month makes more and more people aware of the importance of safe living standards. It also educates them about the building codes.

  2. It adds value to life

    Building safety should not be ignored as it can lead to the loss of lives. This month stresses the importance of the safety and security of buildings for safer and better living.

  3. It helps those in need

    Some people are living or working in spaces that do not meet the building code standards. This month can help them by raising awareness about this cause and ultimately provide them with a better space to live and work.

Building Safety Month dates

YearDateDay
2021May 1Saturday
2022May 1Sunday
2023May 1Monday
2024May 1Wednesday
2025May 1Thursday