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Seismic Solutions

Seismic Compliance - what we need to know

Compliance with relevant standards

Recent devastating earthquakes around the world highlight the importance of ensuring that our buildings in Australia comply with the National Construction Code and Australian Standard AS1170.4 `Earthquake actions in Australia’.

FACT: Australia has experienced the devastation caused by an earthquake on the morning of 28 December 1989 at Newcastle where 13 people were killed and more than 160 were hospitalised.  

Generally speaking, all buildings need to be designed and constructed in accordance with AS1170.4 unless they are:

  • Domestic structures of class 1a or 1b that are 8.5m or less in height
  • Importance Level 1 structures (e.g. farm buildings and sheds, isolated minor storage facilities, minor temporary facilities).
Non-structural components need to be considered

A common misconception in the building industry is that only the primary structural frame of a building needs to be considered for earthquake actions, this is not the case. Non-structural components of a building and their fastenings need to be designed for earthquake forces as required by AS1170.4.

The Australian Standard also stipulates that a number of mechanical and electrical components and their fastenings commonly found in our high-rise buildings also require consideration of their capacity to accommodate earthquake loads for example:

  • Lighting fixtures
  • Ducts, cabling and piping distribution systems
  • Fire suppression and sprinkler systems.
  • For a comprehensive listing of all components referenced by AS1170.4 which require consideration for earthquake loads please refer to the Australian Standard.
Responsibilities of principal building contractors

Principal building contractors are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the buildings they construct comply with the requirements of AS1170.4.

The QBCC recommends that principal building contractors ensure that all non-structural elements such as the mechanical and electrical components referred to above have been properly considered for earthquake loads in their design through to installation on-site.

It is important to request the structural design engineer of a building to provide details such as effective floor acceleration and the allowances for inter-storey drift to system manufacturers of electrical and mechanical components to ensure the selected systems have the required performance characteristics to accommodate the expected earthquake actions.

Responsibilities of certifiers

Building certifiers bear the responsibility to ensure the compliance of such components with the National Construction Code.

FACT: On average, there are 50,000 Earthquakes worldwide every year and Australia experiences 100 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or more each year.

In Queensland, to evidence compliance, building certifiers would normally require Form 15 design certificates and Form 16 installation certificates to be completed, identifying the components covered with appropriate referencing to AS1170.4, by suitably qualified design professionals and installers.

How PPI can help

We work with nVent Caddy, to offer the Design, Form 15, Supply, Support and Form 16 Certification for our customers projects, all in compliance with National Construction Code and AS1170.4, by a Local Qualified Design Engineer.

We require a copy of the layouts of their Lighting, Cable Trays, Ducts, Cabling and Piping, in an electronic format (BIM, CAD, Etc.) generally at the outset of the project.

"Seismic bracing should be considered to prevent damage to services or to other elements within a structure. Damage is caused either by sway or “wave” on services and them coming into contact with each other or parts of the structure"

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