Does my business need to be earthquake prepared and protected?

Yes. New Zealand is an earthquake prone country and the government has introduced two key changes in building codes and health and safety legislation to manage the earthquake risk to public safety. 

As a building owner or business, it is vital you are aware of your responsibilities under:


1. The National System for Managing Earthquake Prone Buildings

This is a council-led system throughout New Zealand which identifies and priorities buildings that do not conform to the minimum level of seismic resilience in the Building Standards 2004. 

This short video gives you an introduction to the national system for managing earthquake-prone buildings. It explains why there is a national system and gives a brief overview of how the system works.

Read the EQ Assessment Guidelines here.

If your building is identified as being earthquake prone, you will need to make changes to the exterior structure and non-structural building parts too.

Quake Protected can work with you, alongside engineers, to provide the most cost effect non-structural seismic restraint solutions.

Schedule an Earthquake Safety Audit here.


2. The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA)

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires that all NZ businesses must keep on top of new or emerging information and ensure that your workplace is prepared to deal with an earthquake.

It also works in parallel with the Earthquake Prone regime.

As WorkSafe explains, in its guidelines:

If you’re a business that owns or occupies an earthquake-prone building and you’re meeting the earthquake performance requirements of the Building Act 2004, we are not going to enforce to a higher standard under HSWA.

If you’re not doing what you should be doing under the Building Act, the best agency to intervene will be the local council.

If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing under the Building Act and someone is harmed, WorkSafe New Zealand may intervene under HSWA.

Read more WorkSafe guidelines here.

Key Points:

  • All buildings in New Zealand should comply with the levels of seismic resilience governed by the Building Act 2004 and the NZ Building Code.
  • The Earthquake Prone Buildings systems will identify key buildings that need to be strengthened to satisfy the building standards.
  • You need to keep on top of new or emerging information. When in doubt get professional advice.
  • By becoming earthquake prepared, your business is making New Zealand a healthy, safe and resilient place 

How can I tell which building parts are a life safety hazard and get professional advice on minimising risk?

All NZ businesses are expected to take steps to identify and eliminate or minimise the risks from from building parts that pose a significant life safety hazard in the event of an earthquake, where reasonably practicable (as you would any other work-related risk) under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).

These include non-structural building parts such as suspended ceilings, HVAC / Air conditioning, Sprinklers and Lights.

Failure to identify and properly manage these types of risks is a breach of HSWA. Read
more about Earthquake Related Safety-Risk and Fixes here.

An Earthquake Safety Audit will identify and propose ways you can minimise the
risk of building parts in your work space.

Are objects like heavy furniture and equipment an earthquake-related health and safety risk?

Yes. 

WorkSafe has identified objects within workspaces such as bookcases, fridges or other heavy furniture as a potential hazard as they can fall on people during an earthquake.

The WorkSafe Earthquake-Related Health and Safety guidelines clearly states,

“We expect you to proactively manage risks arising from objects in and around workplace buildings on a regular and ongoing basis.”

Quake Protected offer a range of seismic restraint solutions that fasten these objects to sturdy building elements to ensure they cannot move or fall on people during an earthquake.. 

Failure to identify and properly manage these types of risks is a breach of HSWA

​Are there any grants or financial assistance to help businesses become earthquake prepared and resilient?

Heritage EQUIP provides funding and advice to earthquake strengthen heritage buildings.

https://heritageequip.govt.nz/

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