Seismic design compliance in healthcare facilities

Our role as Contractor is continually evolving. We are no longer just builders… we are designers, engineers, planners and managers of a building process. Our aim is to build assets that stand the test of time and in healthcare, that includes stringent seismic design.

Since 2009, new health facilities providing post disaster services are required under the Building Code of Australia to be designed and constructed to be “serviceable for immediate use” after the 1:500 year earthquake event. This is in addition to the requirement that the building and its parts be designed to allow safe egress after the more severe but less frequent 1:1500 year event. How a building and its internal parts is to be designed and documented to ensure that the facility survives and remains operational after a severe earthquake is little understood in Australia. For this reason, most recent hospitals completed in Australia have, at best, only superficially addressed this requirement and in the event of a major earthquake are likely to be extensively damaged and unusable. This will potentially cost lives and create a potential legal minefield when this occurs.

In South Australia, the team on the $1.85b new Royal Adelaide Hospital has worked with W&G KBR to address this issue. Extensive worldwide research was carried out and key international consultants were identified and engaged to provide a library of world’s best practice principles applicable to Australia’s specific earthquake characteristics and building practices.

This body of information and in house expertise is now being utilised on our health projects nationally including the Flinders Medial Centre Transforming Health Project, SA.

At Hansen Yuncken we are not only integrating lessons learnt throughout our business but also sharing this information within our industry enhancing best practice is seismic design.