For a business in leased premises, earthquakes pose some obvious risks, but many are not so clear. It’s important for business tenants to fully understand the implications for their people’s safety, their liability for action or inaction, and for their business’s future. Immediate, correct and justifiable decision making is necessary. Failure to do so can result in hugely negative consequences for you and your business.
Your business is directly and primarily responsible for the safety of your staff and other people in the building during an earthquake. It does not matter if you own the building or not. Your immediate decisions in the aftermath of an earthquake must meet the standards imposed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. This means you must take pro-active, all-practicable steps to ensure your staff and others are safe. Failure to do so risks prosecution, with significant financial and other penalties for all key decision-makers in your business. How do you ensure the safety of your staff?
When operating a business from leased premises, you have minimal direct control over any parts of the building that pose a risk to your business and staff. You take the building owner’s assurance that the building is fit for purpose and meets the minimum strength required regulations. But the strength required by regulations varies significantly between buildings. A new building designed to current seismic load design standards on a certain site would receive 100% new building standard (NBS). However, under the 2004 building act, an older building needs only to meet 34% NBS – that’s only 1/3 the strength of a modern building. Moreover, buildings of less than 34% can still be occupied, provided they are declared as “earthquake-prone” by the owner to the local Council consenting authority. Do you know what class of building you occupy?
Even if you know your building, what action should you take? Is it a “bad” quake? How do you know? Proactive, all-practicable steps demand action, but what are they? With little information, you err toward the conservative and get your staff out of the building uncertain as to when you can re-enter. The building owners insist you remain out of the building until an engineer has declared the building safe – this can take hours, days or even weeks. It doesn’t matter to them that your business is disrupted and can’t function – you’ll still be paying the rent. Your business has lost hours or days of productive time, and your business interruption insurance won’t cover it because you have a 13-week stand-down period. You’re exposed to significant and foreseeable business risk because you don’t have any means to support location-specific decision making. You’re at the mercy of other’s actions. What’s the cost of a one-day evacuation for your business?
In the event of an earthquake, Sentinel gives you the decision information you need, now. For business owners, directors, general managers, and health & safety managers Sentinel determines what happened to your building and tells you what you need to do.
Sentinel directly compares measured ground shaking at, or near your building against the NZ Building Code design demand of any individual structure, on any ground condition and of any importance level. Developed into a convenient mobile phone app, Sentinel reports are instant.
Action: Business as Usual
Action: Visual inspections
Action: Evacuate immediately