Archive for Risk

California Hospitals Race to Comply with Seismic Safety Laws

In case you missed it, the California state government has set a deadline for hospitals to meet the seismic safety building standards set by SB1953. In their race against time, hospitals must minimize the risk of a collapse by next year, and ensure their buildings are safe to operate even after a massive earthquake by 2030.

SB1953 was placed into California law after the the 6.7 Northridge Earthquake back in 1994, which caused $25 billion in damages and dozens dead. This temblor also resulted in a turbulent time for hospitals in the state, as 11 hospitals were damaged while eight were evacuated. The quest for California hospitals’ safety from similar seismic dangers won’t be an easy one, as there are many obstacles in the way.

The Calm Before the Storm

California is a hotspot for earthquakes as it lies along a number of fault zones, but it’s been a relatively quiet time for the state. From 1969 to 1994, 32 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 or higher occurred. In contrast, only 11 earthquakes at the same level were recorded in the last 25 years. The most recent deadly earthquake occurred in August 2014 in Napa Valley, which was a 6.0 on the Richter scale.

On the surface, things are seemingly serene, but scientists warn California’s citizens to be wary of the prolonged absence of major earthquakes because it means that a series of them could soon occur.

Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, explains, “We have a decade or two where we don’t have many earthquakes, and people expect that’s what California is always like.” She adds that soon enough, “we’re going to dramatically see a change in earthquake rates.”

Vice reveals this rise in earthquake rates could bring about the Big One, a hypothetical earthquake that is expected to strike through the San Andreas Fault. This covers over 750 miles of California, and is known for producing powerful earthquakes every 150 years. However, there hasn’t been any in the area for over 200 years. Experts believe that this delay in the San Andreas Fault will result in the Big One. However, what experts aren’t sure about is if hospitals state-wide would be able to meet the seismic safety standards when it strikes.

The Cost of Safety

With the inevitability of a major earthquake in the near future, the California Hospital Association recently funded a study to assess the state of seismic safety standards of the state’s hospitals. Results revealed that California hospitals would need to invest between $34 billion and $143 billion in upgrades to meet the preventive measures set by state law. This presents a huge problem, as although the 2020 expectations would most likely be met, many California hospitals fear they won’t be able to afford the cost for the 2030s.

Despite the urgent need to retrofit, complying with the criterion is an uphill struggle for many healthcare facilities in California. Out of over 418 general acute-care hospitals state-wide, 34% of them are in financial trouble. If they were to reach the 2030 deadline for the seismic safety building standards, that number would rise to 50%.

Of course, the financial pressure does not exist in a vacuum. It’s a stressful time overall, as Maryville University reports that the healthcare industry is facing a slew of challenges, such as increasingly complex healthcare systems and an impending shortage of practitioners. The failure to properly address the issue of seismic safety will only lead to even more concerns.

Given all this, seismic safety laws could possibly ruin hospitals even before the Big One hits, as hospitals run the risk of substandard nursing and medical facilities, understaffed medical personnel, and disgruntled patients.

The Health of California Hospitals

There have already been some casualties.

After 157 years of operating in Los Angeles, the Pacific Alliance Medical Center (PAMC) closed its doors because it wasn’t financially fit to meet the state’s seismic safety standards. The press release explained that the land the hospital is built on is leased and cannot be bought: “The hospital building does not meet current California seismic standards and it is not economically viable for us to invest nearly $100 million to build a hospital on land that we would not own.”

Meanwhile, Healdsburg District Hospital in Sonoma County is still up and running, and has a secure seismic rating. However, its officials worry it might suffer the same fate as PAMC. Properly retrofitting the 50-year-old facility would cost at least $15 million — a figure CEO Joe Harrington explains could instead “replace aging infrastructure, including a new HVAC system, new medical gas, an oxygen system, and bigger operating room suites.” He adds, “For twice that amount, the hospital could get a whole new inpatient wing and skilled nursing facility or a slew of facilities upgrades.”

California hospitals must make a tough choice in the coming years. Do they spend millions of dollars to rebuild and subsequently reduce their operating budgets, or do they shut down their facilities entirely?

WorkSafe Technologies manufactures several products to mitigate the seismic risk of critical equipment in your hospital. For more information please contact us

Case Study: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of three federally funded research and development centers operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. It is located in Livermore, California. Livermore is about 40 miles east of the heart of San Francisco. Its primary duty is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the United States nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology.

Sierra Supercomputer

One of newest projects at LLNL is the installation of the Sierra supercomputer. It was completed in 2018. Sierra is very similar in architecture to the Summit supercomputer built for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It is operated in conjunction with the United States National Nuclear Security Administration.

Sierra is just one of several supercomputers in operation at LLNL. They are all located in the Livermore Computing Complex. It operates in just under 10,000 square feet of space at the laboratory. The Computing Complex handles both classified and unclassified national security programs. Sierra is currently ranked as the number two supercomputer in the world. It has a sustained maximum performance of 94.6 petaflops per second. A petaflop is a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second. However, a more powerful supercomputer is already in development at LLNL. It will be named El Capitan.

Sierra is completely cut off from any other network. This practice is known as Air-Gapping. This was done so that Sierra will operate in a classified manner. Sierra will be trying to answer questions about our current nuclear arsenal. The arsenal cannot be tested because of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed by the US in 1970. Sierra will tackle this issue by modeling and running simulations.

Earthquake Risk

One of the challenges LLNL faces is its location. It is located in a high-risk seismic region of Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area. There are seven major earthquake faults in the San Francisco Bay area: The San Gregorio, San Andreas, Hayward, Calaveras, Rodgers Creek, Concord-Green Valley, and Greenville faults. This means that the Livermore Computing Complex could experience damage from a seismic event occurring on one of these faults, or even one that is not listed. According to the USGS, the San Francisco Bay area has a high probability of experiencing an earthquake of at least 6.7 magnitude sometime in the next 30 years.

Seismic Solution

This has been remedied for Sierra as well as the other supercomputers in the Livermore Computing Complex. Since 2011, LLNL has been installing ISO-Base™ platforms underneath their server racks. ISO-Base™ was developed using proprietary base isolation technology. Its patented Ball-N-Cone™ isolator protects valuable IT equipment by decoupling strong seismic shock and vibrations away from sensitive components.

ISO-Base™ currently protects nearly one half trillion dollars of IT equipment in over 30 countries. For nearly 20 years, ISO-Base™ has been tested and proven in significant real-world events in Japan, Peru, New Zealand, Nepal, and many others without failures.

LLNL chose to protect the security of their entire supercomputing complex with ISO-Base™ platforms. This helps ensure the performance and the operational continuity of Sierra. Shouldn’t you?

Southern California hit by tiny earthquakes every 3 minutes, study finds

There’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Southern California – 10 times more than seismologists had thought. But most of those earthquakes are so tiny that no one feels them.

Using a more accurate way of finding teeny tiny earthquakes, scientists counted 1.8 million of the temblors in Southern California from 2008 to 2017, according to a report in Thursday’s journal Science . The current catalog of quakes for the area has just under 180,000 for that decade.

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California’s in an exceptional earthquake drought. When will it end?

California is in an earthquake drought.
It has been almost five years since the state experienced its last earthquake of magnitude 6 or stronger — in Napa. Southern California felt its last big quake on Easter Sunday 2010, and that shaker was actually centered across the border, causing the most damage in Mexicali.

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Three independent models converge on the high earthquake potential of Los Angeles

Metropolitan Los Angeles is being squeezed from south to north at 8-9 mm/yr (⅓ inch per year), about one-fourth the rate your fingernails grow. This squeeze was the ultimate driving force behind the 1971 San Fernando, 1987 Whittier Narrows and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, three days Angelenos need no reminder of. These tremors were “thrust” earthquakes, in which the top side of the fault is thrust up and over the bottom side – the optimal way to accommodate a tectonic squeeze. The tolls of these earthquakes prompt a natural question.

Damage at the San Fernando Veterans Administration hospital in Sylmar killed 49 people. The VA hospital wasn’t the only hospital damaged. New, supposedly earthquake-resistant buildings at Olive View hospital, also in Sylmar, were destroyed.

The quake also damaged freeways and left older buildings in surrounding cities like Burbank, Glendale and Beverly Hills destroyed beyond repair.

(Read More)

The Northridge Quake Struck Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Twenty-five years ago, just before dawn on Jan. 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake struck. Those of us who lived it, remember distinctly the chaos of that morning. The quake caused $25 billion in damages and killed dozens.

Northridge was an event that disrupted the lives of people in the Greater San Fernando Valley extensively. The damage was widespread and affected freeways, buildings, and other infrastructure.

Every time an earthquake such as Northridge strikes, we are forced to realize just how unprepared we are.

We know that another quake will strike sometime in the next 30 years. The “Big One” or San Andreas earthquake will unsettle the lives of everyone in Southern California and it might take us years or even decades to fully recover. Think about how different your lives are today from then. Most of us didn’t have cell phones, and the internet was still in its infancy. How dependent are you on the internet? Is your company equipped and ready to operate without it?

That said, to survive a major earthquake, it’s important that you prepare your life and your company to weather the quake. Stock up on water, food, medicine and make sure you have somewhere to go, in-case you cannot stay in your home. It is imperative for all citizens of Los Angeles work out some sort of emergency plan. Then your need to prepare your facility when the “Big One” strikes.

Traditional Bolting of Server Cabinets Doesn’t Work for Earthquake Protection

While there have been major advancements in earthquake early warning systems, they only give you a few seconds to get ready for the coming quake. Buildings and homes will still be destroyed, and the early warning systems provide enough time for people to get to safety. These systems are still not common in the U.S. and Data center managers have to protect themselves and their facilities in case one strikes.

Seismic-rated cabinets and bracing can be very expensive. This has led many companies to move their data centers to areas that are less likely to have an earthquake. However, current latency issues have made the need for edge data centers much more prominent. So, when it is necessary to have a facility located in an earthquake zone, what can data center managers do to mitigate the damage caused by a seismic event?

When an earthquake strikes, server rack equipment has increased vulnerability to physical damage and data corruption. Most racks are designed to keep equipment safe while stationary, but what if the ground isn’t stationary?

A common solution to this problem has been to bolt this equipment to the floor. While this will provide the bare minimum level of protection for life safety of your employees, it is not ideal. Bolting the equipment transfers the shaking from the ground through the cabinet causing your mission critical equipment contained in your rack to sustain major damage. This rapid movement and vibration can permanently damage sensitive electronics and affect the data they contain.

Your employees may survive the shaking, but they won’t be happy when your facility isn’t fully operational for days, weeks, or even months after a major quake. If Southern California were to be hit by the Big One, southland data centers would suffer from serious supply chain issues. Will your company survive having a nonoperational data center?

ISO-Base™ platforms from WorkSafe Technologies offer a much more reliable solution than bolting. Using patented ball and cone technology, ISO-Base™ platforms are built to isolate your racks from the violent shaking caused by an earthquake. The company has been building these platforms for over 20 years and has passed many shake-table tests including Belcore Nebs GRC 63, and has had successful real-world tests in earthquakes such as Tohoku, Japan 2011 and in Christchurch, New Zealand 2016.

To learn more about ISO-Base™ please click here or visit

Could the recent Japan earthquake trigger a large Osaka quake?

The 17 June 2018 M=6.1 earthquake that struck 9 miles northeast of Osaka continues to produce aftershocks and raise concerns about whether it could trigger larger earthquakes on either of two major active faults. Ruptures on either fault could strongly shake Osaka, a vibrant city of 2.7 million inhabitants.
Two major faults in play

We made preliminary calculations of the stress imparted by the M=6.1 quake to surrounding faults, with each fault divided into patches so the variation of stress could be resolved. This reveals that parts of the right-lateral Takatsuki Fault (also known as the Arima-Takatsuki Tectonic Line), and the Uemachi thrust fault, were brought significantly closer to failure. The Takatsuki fault was also strongly loaded by the 1995 M=6.9 Kobe earthquake to the southwest. The Uemachi fault cuts right through Osaka, and so is the most dangerous to the City.

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USGS Forecasts 400 Fires, 20,000 People Trapped in Elevators, 400,000 Homeless in East Bay Earthquake.

At 4:18 p.m. today, a M=7.0 earthquake will tear across the East Bay. The quake’s epicenter will be just east of downtown Oakland along the Hayward Fault. Shaking will be felt across the entire Bay Area, and in many areas, it will be strong enough to destroy buildings, and render many vital lifelines useless. Up to 400,000 people will be unable to use their homes, 22,000 people will be trapped in elevators, more than 400 gas and electric fires will start, and East Bay residents could lose tap water for up to 6 months. In total, losses will likely exceed $100 billion, and aftershocks will shake the region for years.

Fortunately, this earthquake is not real, but rather a USGS scenario, dubbed HayWired, that will be presented to the public today, coinciding with the release of the scenario’s second volume, on the impacts of a large magnitude earthquake on the Bay Area.

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Here’s What Will Happen After a Huge Earthquake Inevitably Hits California

Nobody knows when “The Big One” is going to hit California, but here’s how experts think it will play out when it does.
California is the land of beaches, mountains, and Hollywood. It’s also, inconveniently, a dangerous minefield riddled with nasty fault lines that rupture without much warning, generating massive earthquakes that can level buildings, pulverize roads, and kill lots of people in the span of seconds.

The San Andreas is the most notorious of these faults. It runs roughly 800 miles long and produces quakes so catastrophic that there’s a 2015 action movie about it starring The Rock.

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