Understanding the “Magnitude” of Seismic Assessment

February 17, 2011

By Ray Dufresne

Earthquakes happen every day; this week, for example, an earthquake measuring 6.6 magnitude on the Richter scale hit off the coast of central-southern Chile. This is the same area that suffered so much destruction almost a year ago from a disastrous magnitude 8.8 earthquake.

Facility managers may be surprised to learn that in the event of an earthquake the non-structural components of a building (ceilings, windows, office equipment, heating, furniture, lights, etc.) pose a much greater risk than the structural components (beams, columns, braces and floors). Non-structural risk can jeopardize life and cause loss of property as well as essential functions like running water.

Because non-structural risk is often overlooked in seismic preparedness, facility managers have an opportunity to make an impact by integrating seismic data into their overall plans, minimizing risk of costly losses due to damaged property, unexpected repair costs and downtime. It’s important to identify and capture all seismic-related data in a facility portfolio, including deficiencies and their associated corrective actions.

From saving lives to minimizing the interruption of business to limiting reconstruction costs, seismic assessment is the first major step towards being prepared for an earthquake.

Do you know how the non-structural components of your buildings are holding up?

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