Happy Building Safety Month! This low-profile observance, an international celebration of safe and sound structures, rarely gets noticed outside of the industry. It’s the unsung understudy to causes nearer and dearer to people’s hearts like ice cream, talking like pirates, even Ferris wheels.
Yet buildings play an ever-present and vital role in our lives. We rely on building codes, the precision of engineering, and the integrity and workmanship of contractors to make sure our homes, businesses, schools, entertainment venues and places of workshop will stay standing to keep us safe – no matter what happens.
There seems to be a day for everything. January is National Soup Month. April is National Math Awareness Month. Most observances are geared for fun, but in general, those that are more popular tend to be tied to important causes that affect the health, safety and social well-being of people and the environment.
A social and environmental cause
I’ve seen that building safety is a very important social and environmental cause. It’s one I have advocated for all my life.
Our built environment provides the stability we need to maintain our quality of life – providing us with homes, schools, social services, and commerce. Unfortunately, many of our most vulnerable buildings are older, weaker structures that make up a disproportionately large part of our state’s more affordable housing stock.
Housing affordability today is a critical problem in California, which ranks as the second most expensive state in the nation, behind Hawaii. In Orange County more than 56% of the population spends more than one-third of its income on rent. The situation is pretty much the same in other urban areas of the state.
The Journal of Public Economics found that major earthquakes have a disproportionate impact on people of lower-economic demographics. Researchers Nejat Anbarci, Monica Escaleras and Charles Register found strong correlations between wealth and resiliency, citing the discrepancy as a matter of social justice. The researchers called on government to help ensure a more even application of building safety codes and retrofits, stating, “The ultimate lesson therefore is that building and development is simply not a physical process – government institutions and social processes must develop in parallel, to keep up with the physical demands and assure minimum acceptable standards of construction and public safety.”
Building safety is also an environmental issue. When our homes and businesses are no longer inhabitable, they must be demolished. And in cases of widespread destruction – like an earthquake – there would not be enough space available to dispose of the crumbled rubble, which would likely contain lead and asbestos due to the age of the fallen structures.
Building Safety Month is an international campaign that takes place each May to raise awareness about building safety and to reinforce the need for the adoption of modern, regularly updated building codes that support safe and sustainable structures. For more information, visit the International Code Council website at iccsafe.org.
Are you curious about the safety of your building? If so, feel free to reach out to Optimum Seismic. We can arrange a complimentary assessment of your building providing the information you need to make the decision that is right for you. Visit optimumseismic.com, or call us at 833-978-7664 to learn more.