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Post Earthquake Building Assessment Guidelines

Category Property Services
Type Guideline
Approved by Vice-Chancellor
Date Guideline Took Effect 8 August 2016
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Operations Manager, Property Services
Responsible Officer Asset Manager, Property Services
Review Date 8 August 2023

Purpose

The purpose of these guidelines is to establish clear and consistent trigger points for undertaking building inspections following an earthquake.

Organisational Scope

These guidelines apply to all University of Otago owned or occupied buildings in New Zealand. The guidelines are to be used following an earthquake which does not trigger a Civil Defence State of Emergency. Where a State of Emergency is declared, the Rapid Post Disaster Building Usability Assessment process through Civil Defence will apply.

Definitions

Modified Mercalli Scale An index from MM1 Imperceptible to MM12 Completely Devastating, which grades the shaking intensity of an earthquake at the ground surface. All earthquakes within New Zealand are automatically graded for intensity using this scale, and the information is available immediately on the GeoNet website www.geonet.org.nz.

Policy Content

In the event of an earthquake:

1. For any University building which has building accelerometers:

(a) If the acceleration force is between 0.092-0.182g (or trigger forces specifically determined for the building), then an inspection of building escape routes and exterior fabric will be carried out as soon as possible by a Licensed Building Practitioner (accredited in Site, Design or Carpentry and experienced in commercial construction). The building can remain occupied pending this inspection. If the inspection raises any cause for concern, then a full inspection by a Chartered Professional Engineer shall be undertaken as soon as possible.

(b) If the acceleration is 0.182g or above (or a trigger force specifically determined for the building), the building shall be evacuated until the responsible Facility Manager has confirmed that building services and safety systems are still functioning and there are no evident safety issues. An inspection of the building by a Chartered Professional Engineer will also be carried out as soon as possible.

2. For any University building which does not have building accelerometers, for earthquakes with an epicentre within 20km of the building:

(a) If the earthquake intensity is Strong (MM6), then an inspection of building escape routes and exterior fabric will be carried out as soon as possible by a Licensed Building Practitioner (accredited in Site, Design or Carpentry and experienced in commercial construction). The building can remain occupied pending this inspection. If the inspection raises any cause for concern, then a full inspection by a Chartered Professional Engineer shall be undertaken as soon as possible.

(b) If the earthquake intensity is Severe (MM7) or above, the building shall be evacuated until the responsible Facility Manager has confirmed that building services and safety systems are still functioning and there are no evident safety issues. An inspection of the building by a Chartered Professional Engineer will also be carried out as soon as possible.

3. The Incident Controller for the building will be responsible for monitoring trigger levels and managing inspections and/or evacuations, in accordance with the University’s Emergency Management Plan.

4. For earthquakes which are below the aforementioned trigger levels or which have an epicentre greater than 20km from the building, inspections may still be carried out, at the discretion of the Director Property Services in consultation with local staff.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Building Act 2004
Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002
Rapid Post Disaster Building Usability Assessment

University Policies
Health and Safety Policy
Emergency Management Policy
Emergency Management Plan

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the Asset Manager, Property Services Division on murray.brass@otago.ac.nz