Why Restrain Non-Structural Building Parts?

Look around your building or workplace right now. You'll probably see a lot of building parts you normally wouldn't consider dangerous.

Now throw earthquake forces into the equation...

It all changes.

In the blink of an eye, things are falling, tipping and flying all over the place if non-structural seismic restraints aren't fitted in your building. 

New Zealand has been a leader in earthquake design and construction for several decades. The New Zealand Building Code (NZBC) has some of the most rigorous seismic performance requirements.

However, evidence following several significant earthquakes, here and overseas, indicates that falling non-structural building parts have the same, if not greater impact on, people's lives and community after an earthquake. (Read more in our News section here)

Falling building parts:

  • Put People's Safety at Risk

Damage from falling objects such as ceilings, ducts, pipes and other non structural building elements poses a significant risk to human safety. The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015 contains requirements for building owners and business owners to provide a safe working environment and prepare for earthquakes. 

  • Are Costly to Replace 

Over 50% of the cost associated with the recent Christchurch Earthquakes, now estimated at over $40 billion has been attributed to non structural damages.

A report in the Canterbuty Earthquakes Royal Commission estimates that every building in Canterbury region received non structural damage of some kind during the 2010-11 CAnterbury earthquake.

In particular damage to suspended ceilings was estimated to have affected 10-15% of all commercial buildings in the region.

  • Significantly impact the time needed before returning to business

The damage caused to non structural elements in Wellington BNZ building in 2016  resulted in closure of the building for 18 months before the bank decided it needed to move premises.

Non-Structural Seismic Restraints are part of the Earthquake Prone Building Regime

The earthquake-prone building regime, in force since 1 July 2017, can apply to non-structural building parts. 

A building can be assessed as earthquake-prone if any of these elements poses a significant life safety hazard.

However, earthquake resilience and non-structural seismic restraints is not limited to buildings that are being identified as "earthquake prone".

The Building Act 2004 and the NZBC has clear standards for the restraint of non-structural building parts. 

Unfortunately, a report in October 2017 revealed that compliance with theses standards has been limited. There has been a dismaying lack of lack of earthquake preparedness in New Zealand's biggest cities.

Key findings in the survey:

  • The newly released survey of high-rise buildings in Auckland and Wellington show nearly all of them fail key earthquake preparedness standards.
  • 89 per cent of ceilings are not secured well enough to withstand a big quake.
  • 85 per of partition walls and 70 per cent of aircon systems in Auckland aren't secured well enough to withstand a big quake.
  • In Auckland, 100 per cent of fire protection system restraints needed upgrading to meet standards that have been in place, but not enforced, for years.

This is a wake-up call for employers everywhere to asking key questions to ensure their business is quake-prepared.

Find out more about more about earthquake safety risks and the Health and Safety at Work Act here.

Restrain Potential Dangers Before They Become Earthquake Hazards

If you are a landlord or business owner, you need to be asking if seismic restraints are in place, if  staff can safely get out of the building without injury, if the business is going to be operational the next day.

Non-structural seismic restraints can be added to a building at any time - during construction and even when it is a bustling business premises.

We can look at your architectural and engineering plans, or complete a earthquake safety audit of your work space.

What you can expect from Quake Protected?

  • Robust and trusted solutions based on best practice in the industry
  • Listening to your needs and addressing your requirements
  • Installing seismic restraints on your nonstructural elements so you can focus on your business
  • Get in touch and find our why so many New Zealand businesses are turning to us to install the seismic restraints to non structural elements in their workplace.

Questions? Need advice about installing seismic restraints & bracing?


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