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Re: Changing the code (followup to Rigid Diaphragm)

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         (__)                  Dennis S. Wish PE                    

I receive my list messages in digest format. I read all of the compeling 
arguments related to the issue of code development and trying to make change 
for the better.

Chuck Greenlaw is most closely akin to my belief's but in a much more 
eloquent way (I wish I could write like that).  Barry Welliver echoed Chuck's 
comments and reflected many of the same feelings I have on the issue.

Rick Ranous has been a long time associate and I respect his opinions. 
However, he may be missing an important  and urgent liability issue:

The provisions for rigid diaphragm analysis have been in the code as early as 
1988 (as pointed out by another of our list members) and has been the same as 
the '97 code since 1994. 

Tom Campbell pointed out (and I tend to agree) that the attention to rigid 
diaphragm analysis started when ICBO began doing seminars in 1998 for 
preparation of the '97 code changes. Little did we realize what most of us 
were missing from the '94 code.

How liable are we?  If a building owner decides to sue an engineer for damage 
(whether a valid suit or not), how will the engineer fight the liability 
issue when an expert witness points out his failure to comply with these 
provisions of the '94 code?

What are we doing as a professional community to protect ourselves from 
potential liability when we choose by professional judgment and with the 
aceptance of the local building official to deviate to a lesser level from 
the code.

Tom reminded me that the code provides the minimum standard and that 
engineers may do more than this. However, what happens when the published 
standards are considered excessive?  What is the engineers protection from 
liability when he or she choses to do less than the code recommends?

I don't think that we can wait for the next few code cycles to resolve this 

In support of Rick's comments, I contacted Tom Campbell from ICBO this 
morning. He was more than willing to work with us to provide pathways to 
information as it develops. I suggested that he contact Bruce Bates who is 
the chair for the Computer Applications Committee of SEAOSC to start the ball 
rolling and that their efforts can work into a site on our website or through 
discussions on this List. Tom's offer was the first real sign of progress 
I've seen occur in a while and I applaud him.

Rick, I agree with Chuck Greenlaw that we are caught in a muddle of politics 
and that most code committees welcome comments as long as they don't disagree 
or adversly affect approval scheduling.  We can make change as you suggest 
but only with cooperation from those in a possition to shepard our comments 
and suggestions and assure us that they are given proper consideration. 

Unfortunately, we are a society of the apathetic - silent majority who simply 
want to observe and not participate.  I wish they would but this may be the 
reason that change is so slow in occuring. 

Any good suggestions as to the liability issue?



Dennis S. Wish PE
Structural Engineering Consultant