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Identification and Reduction of Nonstructural Hazards in Schools

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This publication is intended to help identify nonstructural hazards at the school site and to show how those hazards can be reduced. Nonstructural elements are everything but the columns, beams, floors, load-bearing walls, and foundations. Common nonstructural items include ceilings, lights, windows, office equipment, computers, files, air conditioners, electrical equipment, furnishings, and anything stored on shelves or hung on walls. In an earthquake, nonstructural elements may become unhooked, dislodged, thrown about, and tipped over; this can cause injury and loss of life, extensive damage, and interruption of operations.

Ever since the Field Act of 1933, public school buildings in California have been constructed to stringent seismic design codes; however, attention was not given to nonstructural hazards until relatively recently. Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations now prescribes some nonstructural seismic safety elements for new construction in public schools, but many nonstructural hazards are still not covered. Both public and private schools can make use of this publication to determine the extent of nonstructural hazards in their facilities.

The publication was developed jointly by Bay Area Regional Earthquake Preparedness Project (a program of California Office of Emergency Services), and the Structural Safety Section of the Office of the State Architect.

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