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Saturday, September 10, 2011

CERA - Draft Recovery Strategy for greater Christchurch

More for those outside of Canterbury and New Zealand, as it is widely publicised locally: CERA have today released the Draft Recovery Strategy for greater Christchurch. The announcement is here.

Information about the Draft Strategy, where to find it, how to register, and how to comment are on the Draft Strategy page here. Public consultation runs until the 30th of October.

Those living locally will get a summary of the Draft Strategy and a comment form delivered to their letter boxes from the 17th of September.
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - The Performance of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Swarm

From the Royal Commission's website:
The Commission sought the advice of Associate Professor Jason Ingham from Auckland University and Professor Michael Griffith from Adelaide University on the Performance of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Swarm. Unreinforced masonry is defined as a construction of clay brick, concrete blocks or natural stone units bound together using lime or cement mortar, without any reinforcing elements such as steel reinforcing bars.
The report discusses the architectural characteristics and seismic vulnerability of unreinforced masonry buildings in New Zealand, makes observations about the performance of such buildings in the Canterbury earthquakes and available techniques for seismic upgrading. Section 7 recommends certain structural elements of all unreinforced masonry buildings be improved to meet the standard for new buildings and that other elements be improved to meet at least 67% of the standard required for new buildings. The authors also recommend that there be one national standard instead of policies being set by individual territorial authorities.
The report is large and has been divided up into small parts for ease of reference and downloading. All parts of the report can be downloaded from here

The executive summary provides the main recommendations of the report:
  • All URM buildings should be improved so that the public is protected from all falling hazards such as chimneys, parapets, gable end walls and out-of-plane wall failures. These parts of URM buildings should be improved to the full design strength required for new buildings in New Zealand. If required, further building improvements should aim for 100% of the requirements for new buildings with lower values negotiable on a case by case basis. However, a minimum of 67% is recommended.
  • There should be a single, national policy for URM building maintenance and seismic strengthening rather than multiple regional policies.
  • The estimated cost to upgrade all of New Zealand’s approximately 3867 URM buildings to a minimum of 67% of the NBS requirements is approximately $2 billion. This is slightly more than the estimated value of $1.5 billion for the total URM building stock. Clearly, a cost effective strategy is needed to direct the limited resources available to tackle this problem.
  • Field testing of a limited number of existing URM buildings in the Christchurch CBD or nearby (that have been listed for demolition) would improve the current understanding of the seismic capacity of these buildings as well as offer an opportunity to develop and validate more cost-effective seismic strengthening/retrofit technologies. Such testing would focus on global structural performance characteristics and how loads are transmitted through buildings, and would be undertaken using such techniques as snap back testing to generate lateral loads and deformations that simulate earthquake effects. The performance of structural elements either extracted from such buildings, or tested in place, would also provide important new information.
  • In view of the estimated cost to upgrade all URM buildings to a minimum of 67% of the NBS, it is proposed that first priority be given to ensuring public safety by securing/removing falling hazards as outlined in section 7: Recommendation 3, Stage 1 and Stage 2. The cost to do this is unknown but would be substantially less than the amount to fully upgrade all buildings.
The report consists of:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Department of Labour - Employer and Employee earthquake information updated.

The Department of Labour has updated it's earthquake information for Christchurch businesses in light of what was learnt from the February 22nd earthquake. A wide range of information is covered in a question and answer format (here). The general categories and questions are listed below.

In addition the page contains links to Factsheets, FAQs and other government departments where the information is covered in more detail.

Over-arching advice - health and safety
  • A basic checklist of things you should consider before you open your workplace door
  • If you don’t have the expertise to check critical factors (listed on the website) get an expert in to assist you
  • Recognise that the RIGHT DECISION is the SAFE DECISION
  • Make yourself aware of any requirements of the authorities (Police, Civil Defence, regional and local authorities etc) and act in accordance with those requirements
  • As a business owner or manager, the Health and Safety in Employment Act requires you to provide a safe workplace for your employees, contractors you might engage and others who might be entering your premises, eg shoppers
  • Employees also have a responsibility to ensure their own safety
Over-arching advice - employment relations matters
  • The key is communication.
  • Be flexible.
  • Work together to find practical solutions
  • Recognise that this has been a significant event
  • An individual employee has the right to refuse to do work they consider unsafe.
Additional Information
  • Who decides if workers have to go to work if it is open?
  • If a staff member needs to stay home to look after their family – how does that work?
  • Whose responsibility is it to ensure the workplace is safe?
  • What if it is my work day, and work is closed. Do I get paid? I can’t get into work today for good reason. Do I get paid? Work was closed yesterday. Do I get paid for that day?
  • If an employee has concerns they feel are not being resolved, what should they do?
  • If an employer has concerns that are not being resolved, what should they do?
  • What if no agreement can be reached?
  • Does an employer have the right to require workers to go to work and help with clean up?
  • What safety gear should be used in clean up?
  • How should concern about gas or chemicals in the workplace be dealt with?
All this is here.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CERA - geotech video on rockfalls

Another CERA video with Jan Kupec - this time on rockfalls. On YouTube here.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

CanCERN Q&A with IAG & Hawkins

CanCERN and IAG, along with IAG's project manager Hawkins Construction, have discussed the processes involved for customers of IAG who are faced with over-cap repairs or a rebuild. Other insurance companies that come under the IAG banner are: Lantern, NZI, and State.

The result is a 7 page document on Google Docs (here) outlining the IAG/Hawkins position and responses to some questions. Topic headings in the document are:
  • Project Management Office Process for Making Assessments
  • Disputes Process
  • Insurer Customer Support - Customer Advocacy
  • Communication between the Insurer, the PMO and the Client
  • The Rebuild Planning Process with the PMO
  • The Detailed Project Management Assessment (Scope of Works)
  • Settlement Options
These topics are then followed by a series of questions with answers. In a few instances the answers are uncompromising, and indicate that unless exceptional conditions exist the IAG/Hawkins position cannot be challenged. It is possible that other decisions may be put into this "exceptional circumstances" category (e.g. the use of particular techniques and/or materials) in an effort to streamline processes and increase efficiency.

It is unlikely that such determinations have any legal status and so can be challenged, given enough time, money and energy. So, for now at least, keep the mindset that the customer is always right and consult a lawyer before you agree to, or sign, anything.

Click on the link to see the questions contained in the document.