Commercial Building Owners' Actions After an Earthquake


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Commercial Building Owners' Actions After an Earthquake

Building owners need to develop their own internal policies and procedures. All tenants must be aware of these processes and know what to do prior to an event.

In addition, the Marlborough District Council recommends the following four-step process to ensure your building is safe after an earthquake.

Anyone running a business is required by law to provide a work environment that is without identifiable risks to health and safety.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 does not set a minimum standard, rather it says that all practical steps are taken to remove or minimise the risk from identified hazards.

Following a significant seismic event, Marlborough District Council recommends building owners/operators get any buildings assessed for potential structural damage that may have been caused by the earthquake.

The following four-step approach will help you work out if buildings are safe:

Step 1

Initial Assessment

  • Initial assessment by owner/operator. If this finds significant issues/damage, further assessment is required.
  • You should hire a chartered professional engineer if there is any doubt.
  • If there is any concern about the structural integrity of the building, do not enter. Seek chartered professional engineering advice and guidance and advise occupants that the building is not to be occupied and move to Step 2.

Step 2

Engineer Inspection

  • Chartered professional engineer inspects key elements of the building structure. This may include invasive techniques. It is recommended that the same engineer/engineering company do this for continuity and familiarity of the building.
  • Buildings are not to be occupied until the engineer declares that it is safe to occupy.

Step 3

Check Building Systems

  • Once the engineer has declared the building safe to occupy, organise an inspection of building services and systems by suitably qualified professionals/Independent Qualified Person, eg; fire protection, electrical, water, lifts, heating and air conditioning, or security.
  • If any services/systems are damaged, you may not be able to occupy the building until they are fixed.
  • Any other damaged areas needing repair are also identified and remediated in this stage.
  • A final check is done to ensure that the building is safe to occupy in accordance with Building Warrant of Fitness and Building Code regulations and policies.

Step 4

  • Building is cleared and fit to occupy.