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Liability Risks: Why Warning Tactile Code Compliance Matters

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Liability Risks: Why Warning Tactile Code Compliance Matters

In recent years, installing (TWSIs) has become an indispensable part of designing public spaces and facilities in Canada. TWSIs, also known as detectable warning surfaces, are standardized textured ground surfaces that convey critical information to pedestrians through touch and sound cues. They are vital in enhancing accessibility and safety for all users, especially those with visual impairments.


However, even with the growing awareness of TWSIs' importance, many public and private spaces remain non-compliant regarding required tactile installations. This non-adherence poses severe liability risks for property owners, facility managers, contractors, and architects if accidents or injuries occur due to the lack of proper tactile warnings.


This blog explores the importance of tactile code compliance in Canada and outlines key liability risks for stakeholders regarding TWSIs.


The Need for Tactile Code Compliance


In Canada, tactile installation requirements are mandated by various federal, provincial, and municipal regulations, most notably:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • Ontario Building Code
  • CSA B651 Standards on Accessible Design
  • Municipal bylaws and accessibility policies

These regulations require TWSIs to be installed in some public regions to warn pedestrians with vision impairments about potential hazards like stairs, curbs, platform edges, intersections, etc. Compliance is crucial from both an ethical and legal standpoint.


By failing to adhere to tactile installation codes, property owners and constructors deny persons with disabilities their right to accessible infrastructure, putting them at risk of accidents. It reflects poorly on an organization’s commitment to inclusivity and universal design.


Key Liability Risks of Non-Compliance


Violating mandated tactile installation codes and standards poses several significant legal risks:


1. Trip and Fall Hazards


Lack of required TWSI installations means hazards like unexpected stairs, curbs, ramps, etc., go undetected. This significantly increases the chances of trip and fall accidents for pedestrians with vision loss. Any resulting injuries can lead to costly litigation and compensation claims against property owners.


2. Code Violation Penalties


Breaching provincial and municipal accessibility legislation can attract heavy fines and penalties. For example, violating the AODA can incur fines of up to $100,000 per day for organizations, plus potential damage suits.


3. Reputational Damage


Legal penalties combined with media coverage of accidents can also lead to substantial reputational damage for owners, negatively impacting property values, leasing, and public perception.


4. Retrofitting Costs


If scandals or accidents occur, there will be eventual costs for retroactive tactile installation and upgrades to become compliant. Taking a proactive approach right from the planning and construction phase is wiser.


How to Reduce Liability Through Compliance?


Here are some tips to ensure tactile code compliance and mitigate risks:

  • Consult regulations like the OBC, AODA Design of Public Spaces Standards, CSA B651, etc., during the design and planning of any public facilities, like malls, parks, transit platforms, etc., to determine the exact tactile installation requirements.
  • Hire consultants who are experts in accessible design and tactile systems to conduct thorough audits and develop a compliance strategy tailored to the project.
  • Select high-quality TWSI products that meet the highest standards from reputable providers like Tactile Solution Canada. Opt for cast-in-place or embedded solutions for maximum durability and safety.
  • Ensure proper installation by certified professionals following the regulations and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Perform routine maintenance checks on installed TWSIs to identify any damage or wear and tear requiring replacement.
  • Provide adequate safety warnings and barricades during maintenance or repair tasks at public facilities so that inaccessible areas don’t lead to accidents.
  • Keep informed about changes or updates to local tactile installation codes and update existing facilities accordingly.
  • Develop a proactive maintenance and replacement schedule for installed TWSIs based on expected wear from foot traffic.


Key Tactile Codes and Standards in Canada


Constructors, designers, and property managers need to be well-versed with Canada’s major tactile compliance codes:


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)


The AODA is a landmark accessibility legislation in Ontario that mandates the installation of TWSIs at public facilities. The Design of Public Spaces Standards under AODA provides detailed technical specifications on required tactile installations at various public spaces like sidewalks, crosswalks, transit platforms, recreational trails, play spaces, etc. It also imposes heavy fines for non-compliance.


Ontario Building Code


The OBC legally governs construction across Ontario. Section 3.8 on barrier-free design prescribes TWSI requirements for buildings, including specifications on types of TWSIs and correct locations for installation like stairs, curb ramps, pedestrian crossings, platform edges, etc. It sets the minimum legally required tactile installations.


CSA B651 Standards on Accessible Design


Canada's nationally recognized B651 standard provides comprehensive specifications on TWSIs. It sets optimal technical requirements for tactile surface dimensions, materials, color/tonal contrast, placement locations, etc., for enhanced accessibility. While voluntary, the CSA standard represents industry best practices.


Municipal Codes and Policies


Municipal governments like Toronto also impose bylaws and facility accessibility policies mandating and regulating the installation of TWSIs at public facilities within their jurisdiction. These codes should be consulted for any localized tactile requirements.


Consequences of Legal Action


In recent years, multiple high-profile lawsuits and human rights complaints have been filed against public and private property owners related to the lack of mandated TWSIs leading to accidents and injuries.


Such outcomes illustrate the enormous risk posed by non-compliance with tactile installation codes. Being proactive about the proper tactile application per all relevant regulations can help avoid tragic accidents while demonstrating a solid commitment to creating infrastructure that is accessible and inclusive to all.




What are some common locations that require tactile installation as per Canadian codes?


Some typical locations requiring compliant TWSI application per codes like the AODA, OBC, and CSA B651 are stairs, curb ramps, pedestrian crossings, transit platforms, escalators, hotel room balconies, playgrounds, recreational trails, parking lots, food courts, etc.

What happens if a facility is found non-compliant with mandated tactile installation codes?


Consequences include heavy fines of up to $100,000 daily, lawsuits and damage claims by injured persons, orders to retrofit inaccessible facilities, negative publicity, and reputational damage.


Who is responsible for ensuring tactile code compliance?


Liability extends to all parties involved in the design and construction process, including property owners, facility managers, developers, architects, contractors, and construction companies.


What options are available for installing complaint TWSIs?


Typical solutions include metal, durable polymer, rubber, porcelain, or concrete TWSIs installed via surface-mounting, embedding into fresh concrete, replacing existing tiles with compliant tactile tiles, etc.


Stay code-compliant & Accessible


By selecting high-quality tactile products from reputable suppliers like Tactile Solution Canada, having proper installation by trained professionals, and conducting routine maintenance checks and prompt replacement when any wear/damage is detected, facilities in Canada can stay accessible, durable, and code-compliant over time.