Following the construction industry and related legal topics in the United States.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Planning and Designing for Safety

ASHRAE has published a draft guideline entitled Risk Management of Public Health and Safety in Buildings to help building owners and designers assess holistically the need and desirability of implementing protective measures in new and existing buildings to reduce the health and safety risk posed by the threat of "extraordinary incidents".

The extraordinary incidents addressed in the Guideline include fire, seismic events, chemical and biological release, blast and other terrorist actions. The Guideline focuses primarily on office and multi-family residences, and addresses comprehensively aspects of building performance that affect occupant safety and health.

The Guideline recommends utilizing a risk management approach that includes, among other steps, conducting a threat assessment to identify the types of incidents that present a risk to the building and its occupants, the probability of their occurrence, and the likely impacts they would cause. The Guideline suggests ranking potential extraordinary incidents for a given building into five risk categories -- critical, serious, moderate, minor and negligible -- based on the building's location, use and a variety of other factors. Recommendations for specific protective actions are given based on the various risk categories.

For example, in siting buildings that will be at Moderate Risk, the Guideline contains the following recommendations: locate the building a sufficient distance from uncontrolled vehicles to mitigate the effect of a blast; keep litter and trash bins and postal collection boxes at least 100 ft. from the building; keep communication centers, electrical power entrances, potable and fire protection water entrances and emergency egress doors as far away as possible from delivery vehicles -- and many more.

The draft Guideline is open for public comment until August 29. To obtain a copy, click here.


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