Possibility Raised of Extension for Seismic Safety Compliance
Some hospitals in California could receive extensions to comply with state seismic safety rules if the state approves use of a software application to calculate risk of damage to buildings in an earthquake, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. Legislation would be needed to approve use of the software and provide for extensions for some hospitals.
The software considers what type of soil a building stands on in assessing the likelihood of damage to the structure in an earthquake, according to William Lundy, geographic information systems operator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 9. The software, called HAZUS, also considers issues related to ground motion, proximity to the epicenter of an earthquake and other factors.
The Hospital Building Safety Board, which advises the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, on April 20 agreed to use the software to calculate hospitals' risk in an earthquake.
Kurt Schaefer, deputy director for facilities at OSHPD, said, "Based on the relative risk of hospital buildings, it may be appropriate to give some hospitals more time to comply" with state seismic safety rules. He added, "Those at lesser risk could be given until 2030. For others, it may be 2020, and some, where the risk is unacceptable, will have to go ahead" with existing compliance deadlines.
According to the Business Journal, "[t]here's talk of adding a new category of seismic risk" for hospital buildings that HAZUS shows to be of less risk for sustaining damage that puts patients at risk in an earthquake. Such hospitals might have until 2020 to comply with the state rules, rather than 2008, or 2013 if they have received an extension.
In addition, legislation (SB 167 and SB 1661) that would delay compliance with the rules for some hospitals might be amended to approve use of HAZUS (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/12).