FEMA E-74 Chapter 4.4 Responsibility & Program Management

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4.4 Responsibility and Program Management

4.4.1 Responsibility

Successful implementation of a nonstructural risk reduction program may involve many steps, including integration of the risk reduction program with the overall mission or business plan and balancing the seismic risks with other risks that businesses and organizations face. Program tasks may include planning, budgeting, scheduling, allocation of in-house resources and personnel, selection of outside consultants and contractors, contract negotiation and administration, coordination of numerous trades, managing outages or disruption, facility surveys, installation, inspection, oversight, purchasing, evaluation, and ongoing maintenance of the seismic protection measures. Assigning clear responsibility for each task is important to the success of any risk reduction program. Table 4.4.1-1 shows an example of a responsibility matrix that could be readily adapted by listing the nonstructural components for a particular project. This example format can be used to track who is responsible for design, design review, installation, and observation. If special inspection is required, this could also be added to the table. Appendix B contains templates for use in assigning responsibility for design, construction and inspection of nonstructural installations governed by ASCE/SEI 7-10. The responsibility matrices are intended to be used in conjunction with the construction specification in Appendix A.

Table 4.4.1-1 Example Responsibility Matrix
Type of Nonstructural
Component or System
DesignDesign ReviewInstallationObservation
Access Floor (raised)    
CeilingsSuspended T-bar    
Gypsum Board (hung)    
Electrical EquipmentBusduct / Cable Trays    
Power Generator    
Light fixtures    
Main Service Panel    
ElevatorCable guides    
Exterior CladdingEIFS    
Metal Panels    
Precast Concrete    
Exterior Window Walls    
Fire Sprinkler System    
Fluid Tanks    
Mechanical EquipmentAir Handlers    
Cooling Tower    
Ductwork / VAV box    
Piping Systems    
Interior Partitions    
Other Equipment     
Storage Racks    
Water Heater    

One of the initial tasks is to assess the capabilities of in-house resources and the need for outside consultants. The answer depends on the nature of the physical conditions in the facility and the characteristics of the organization.

  • In-house implementation can be adequate where the potential hazard is small or the in-house familiarity with engineering and construction is greater than average.
  • Specialized consultants with experience in the evaluation and reduction of nonstructural risks may be required for essential facilities or larger and more complex facilities where the potential hazards or potential losses are high.
  • Facilities with moderate risk may fall in between these two examples and use a combination of expert advice and in-house implementation. For example, after an initial survey is conducted and a report is prepared by an expert, the remainder of the implementation might be handled in-house without further assistance.

One of the larger nonstructural earthquake hazard evaluation and upgrade programs is that of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its hospitals. The typical procedure followed by the VA is to hire consultant experts to assess the seismic risk at the site, to review the facility and list specific nonstructural items that are vulnerable to future earthquakes, and to provide estimated upgrade costs and group the items by priority. Once the consultants have established the program outline, the VA maintenance staff at each hospital is given many of the implementation tasks. As mentioned in the introduction, there are limits to the self-help diagnosis and prescription approach; especially if larger buildings or more serious safety hazards, property risks, or critical functional requirements are involved, the use of consultants may be advisable.

Consultants and design professionals could be used to assist with any or all of the tasks from program planning through implementation. Outside consultants that could facilitate planning, design, and implementation may include the following:

  • Risk managers
  • Earthquake engineers
  • Structural engineers
  • Civil engineers
  • Architects
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Electrical engineers
  • Interior designers
  • Specialty contractors
  • Special inspectors
  • Vendors of specialty hardware and seismic protection devices

Many architects and engineers are qualified to design bracing or anchorage for simple nonstructural items. However, the design of anchorage and bracing for specialized equipment or for the systems needed to maintain operations in a hospital or manufacturing facility requires specialized experience with seismic design for nonstructural components. While there currently is not a recognized professional designation for someone with this type of experience, there may be one in the future. The job requires familiarity with MEP equipment and piping, architectural components, issues such as fire protection, and requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, computer networks, industrial storage racks, and all the other categories of nonstructural components and contents. When selecting outside consultants, check that they have experience with nonstructural seismic design, preferably specific experience with the type of equipment or facility in question.

4.4.2 Sustaining Protection

On an organizational level, sustaining protection generally requires a serious commitment from management and may include development of seismic planning guidelines for the organization, development of purchasing guidelines, ongoing personnel training, periodic facility audits, and incorporation into annual staff reviews. It is sometimes more problematic to maintain the human aspects than hardware aspects of nonstructural protection. Over time, interior fastenings and restraints may be removed as people move equipment or other items and fail to reinstall the protective devices. Chains used to restrain gas cylinders or elastic shock cords on bookshelves are effective only when they are in use. This is also true of tethers on office copiers, countertop lab equipment, or vending machines. Some nonstructural protection devices, such as anchorage hardware for exterior objects, may deteriorate with time if not protected from rust. New items may be purchased and installed without seismic protection in the absence of purchasing guidelines. As noted above, remodeling projects can sometimes result in the elimination of protective features if there are no seismic guidelines.

Training is required to ensure that gas cylinders, storage rack contents, lab and office equipment, and chemicals are properly stored. Maintenance personnel may periodically survey the building to find out whether or not earthquake protection measures are still effectively protecting mechanical equipment such as emergency generators, water heaters, and specialized equipment. Additionally, supervisors can be made responsible for an annual review of their work spaces. If there is a separate facility or physical plant office in an organization, it may be a logical place for the responsibility for sustaining protection to reside. Organizations with safety departments have successfully assigned the role of overseeing nonstructural earthquake protection to this functional area.

An earthquake risk reduction program should conform to the nature of the organization. In the case of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the implementation and maintenance of a campus wide program to address nonstructural earthquake hazards was initiated by a one page policy memo from the chancellor. Each department head was made responsible for implementation of the policy, and the campus Office of Environmental Health and Safety was given the job of advising departments on implementation, making surveys, and evaluating the program's overall effectiveness (Huttenbach, 1980; Steinmetz, 1979).

4.4.3 Program Evaluation

To assess whether the nonstructural risk reduction program was worth the cost, the strong points and deficiencies of the program need to be established. There are two program evaluation techniques to employ in accomplishing this task. The first is to ask:

  • How well has the program met its stated objectives?
  • Have the costs been within the budget?
  • Have the tasks been completed on schedule?
  • Is the scope of the effort as broad as was originally intended, or have some items been neglected that were targeted for upgrades?
  • Have employee training exercises or other features of the plan all been implemented?
  • How well have the measures been implemented?
  • Have the upgrade details been correctly installed?
  • Is the training taken seriously?
  • Do we need to modify (either enhance or reduce) our objectives going forward?

The second evaluation technique is to ask:

  • If the earthquake happened today, how much would the losses be reduced by due to the nonstructural protection program?
  • Have the costs been worth the benefits?

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Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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