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Identify and Fix Safety Hazards before the Next Mega-quake

Identify and Fix Safety Hazards before the Next Mega-quake

Although earthquakes happen in various parts of the country on a fairly regular basis, the West Coast often has stronger, more powerful earthquakes and thus, a greater chance of building damage, injury and work stoppage.  When destructive seismic activity occurs, residents rely on businesses to stay open after the event so that the community can get back to normal as quickly as possible.  Just as California residents must be prepared for a damaging quake, business and corporate property owners must be ready to protect their building and its contents, not to mention employees, customers and tenants. The first step to ensuring that businesses do not experience a work stoppage or worse is to complete a thorough hazard review of the building so that a disaster plan can be created.

For property owners and managers, the first step is to walk through the entire building looking for potential hazards that will likely cause damage to the building.  For business owners, take a walk through your business areas, looking for hazards that could cause damage to your business assets or cause harm to employees and customers.  Property managers of multi-unit buildings should complete a thorough review of each unit as well as common areas, to ensure that tenants will be safe.  Document all potential hazards, categorize the hazards (structural, power outage, flood/water damage, injury to tenants, customers and employees, and theft/security risk, etc.) and rank the expected amount of damage.

When it comes to determining potential hazards, many people focus only on potential internal hazards such as unbraced shelving set up near exits, file cabinets that will easily tip over or slide across the floor, and unsecured office equipment.  External hazards need to be determined as well.  Property owners and managers should step outside of the building and take a look around. Other businesses located nearby could actually sustain damage that would subsequently impact their own building.  Brick facades and other elements are easily damaged when the ground starts shaking; falling pieces of brick or glass could easily come crashing down, injuring anyone directly below.

Once you have identified and noted the hazards that might very well disrupt your day-to-day operations, determine a plan to fix the lower cost issues first.  Prioritize any remaining non-structural issues to determine the best way to reduce or eliminate the risks related to potential property damage and personal injury.  Other issues to consider are related to the vulnerability of your current technology and data.  Computer data files can be easily lost when computers and other electronic equipment are damaged.  Regular back-up plans must be in place to store information in an off-site location.

The final step in determining hazards in a commercial property is to determine any structural issues that should be addressed.  There are many buildings in the Los Angeles area that were built more than 25-30 years ago.  In most cases, those buildings were not designed to handle major earthquakes.  Building codes were significantly updated in the mid-1980s; those properties built prior to the new, more stringent building codes are more vulnerable to the powerful forces of a mega-quake.  Additional maintenance and strengthening will most likely be necessary to avoid major damage and destruction when a powerful quake occurs.

Structural weakness cannot be easily spotted with a simple walk-through looking for unknown safety hazards.  It takes a professional contractor with experience in earthquake retrofitting to determine the specific vulnerabilities in any given building.  The highly skilled team at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit is available to complete a thorough, multi-faceted inspection of your commercial property to determine current weaknesses. Post inspection, the team will provide a list of suggested actions to be taken, along with a cost estimate.  This information will help you prioritize the steps that need to be taken to ensure the safety of those who are in the building when an intense earthquake hits the Los Angeles area.  Call the experienced professionals at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

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