Building contents

Heavy and tall building contents slide and overturn when subjected to horizontal accelerations so these should be restrained; for example, high bookcases, storage cabinets and partial-height partition walls should be fastened to structural elements. These types of building

▲ 11.26 Damaged office contents. Mexico City, 1985 Mexico earthquake

(Reproduced with permission from David C. Hopkins).

▲ 11.26 Damaged office contents. Mexico City, 1985 Mexico earthquake

(Reproduced with permission from David C. Hopkins).

contents can cause considerable damage during an earthquake, and create significant risk of injury to occupants (Fig. 11.26).

As it is not feasible to restrain all building contents, attention should be focused upon those items most hazardous and important for post-earthquake function. A broad approach to both hazard and function is necessary. For example, a tall storage cabinet might be regarded as a hazard due its likelihood of overturning and causing injury. But it might also block egress by preventing a door from being opened, smashing bottles of hazardous chemicals stored on the floor, or damaging an adjacent computer file server. A rigorous program of restraining building contents, especially in a contents-rich building like one housing scientific laboratories, is challenging but necessary to minimize earthquake losses including loss of building function.9

Civil defence and emergency management agencies provide literature to help home owners and building occupants identify and restrain hazardous and valuable items. At least one code exists.10 Specialist companies also offer seismic restraint devices and installation services to businesses wanting to minimize post-earthquake disruption or downtime and risk of injury to employees. Although most restraints are quite easily installed the real problem lies in their aesthetic and functional acceptance. Most of us are not used to seeing computers anchored to desks, or bench-top equipment tethered by chains or cables (Fig. 11.27). However, just as

Shelf lips

Unistrut bolted to post behind used to attach light equipment ■ '«

Metal stud wall

Wall mounted shelving bolted to the wall through backing plates if

Seismic restraint

Lab bench/

cabinet plvtt

Lab bench/

cabinet

▲ 11.27 Restraints to laboratory equipment. (After Ref. 9).

seat belts are now worn in cars as a matter of course in many countries, the application of seismic restraints will become more common-place as the public's awareness of their importance grows.

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