220.127.116.11 File Cabinets
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Sheet metal file cabinets are often tall, narrow, and heavily loaded. These cabinets frequently overturn in earthquakes; the time required to pick up and reorganize files may be a significant business expense and result in lost productivity.
- Unanchored file cabinets can slide, tip, or overturn. Drawers may slide open increasing the chance that the cabinet will overturn; contents may fall and get scrambled.
- Overturned cabinets may block doors and exit corridors.
- Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and other Structures (ASCE/SEI 7-10) requires that permanent floor supported cabinets or shelving over 6 ft tall be treated as architectural components. This requirement does not apply to wall mounted items with both base and wall anchorage.
- Do not locate cabinets where their failure would block a door or exit corridor; note some school districts do not allow file cabinets within 6 feet of a doorway. Do not locate where they could fall and break a window or glass partition.
- File cabinets should be anchored to the floor or wall. Where cabinets or shelving are anchored to a partition, check that the partition, bracing and attachment to the structure above are adequate for the imposed loading.
- Adjacent freestanding file cabinets should be anchored together and to the floor. Gang multiple units together to create a more stable arrangement.
- Provide strong drawer latches to prevent the drawers from sliding open. Fluids and files don’t mix; do not place flower vases or other breakable fluid containers on top of file cabinets.
- There are many acceptable ways to reliably protect file cabinets from earthquake damage. The following details illustrate measures that can protect loaded cabinets up to 6 ft tall in severe ground shaking at the highest locations within a building; engineering may be required for floor-supported items taller than 6 feet. Alternate less robust details may be developed for less severe loading conditions.