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We have touted the use of inspection checklists on many occasions as important tool for maintenance operations but also as a tool to prepare and react to natural disasters such as Hurricanes or Earthquakes. Yesterday’s earthquake, centered in Virginia, is a great example of why inspection checklists are important to government, businesses and homeowners alike.

DC Earthquake Damage to Embassy of Ecuador

Surprisingly and happily, I was pleased to see that the Federal and some State governments sprang into action immediately after the 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck at 1.51 PM SSW of Mineral, Virginia. The earthquake was followed by 4 aftershocks ranging from 2.2 to 4.2 magnitude. The strongest of these was enough to shake indoor items.

Inspections After the Earthquake

The primary course of action for governments and industry is to break out their emergency plans and set forth teams to inspect assets for damage. Some of the notable actions that were taken by governments and industries included:

  • A quick inspection of national monuments discovered a crack near the top of the Washington Monument as well as damage to the National Cathedral. In the case of the Washington Monument, it has been closed indefinitely.
  • The New York State Department of Transportation referred NYDOT officials to a report issued June 30, 2011, on how to respond to bridge and road damage. The report suggests driving all state highways in the affected areas using pre-defined priority routes followed by detailed bridge inspections.
  • FEMA reposted their Helpful Hints on How To Spot Earthquake Damage. This particular piece is an excellent starter checklist for all building and facility managers.
  • All rail traffic was slowed as rail lines were inspected for damage.

The common factor among those who sprang into action was the use of inspection checklists. I don’t think there is any doubt that some level of preparedness has been spurred by the recent Japan earthquake disaster. The key point is inspection checklists enable government and business leaders to quickly access asset conditions and set a course of action.

Not All Inspection Checklists are Created Equal

Inspection checklists can be as simple as a printed list of assets to be checked on or a computer generated checklist using a CMMS system. The difference in the two comes down to how fast inspection results can be obtained, organized and analyzed.

The advantage of a CMMS generated checklist is that it can be accessed using handheld devices and transmitted back to asset managers for faster decision making. In addition, all information is then stored electronically ensuring that the records won’t be lost.

For business or governments wanting to restore full operation as soon as possible, a CMMS system is the best tool to have for emergency preparedness. Because a CMMS will track inspection results from one inspection to the next, it allows asset managers to note changes that might otherwise have been missed.

Earthquakes and Facility Management

Can an Earthquake happen to you? The short answer is yes. The west coast from California to Alaska has long been a hotspot for earthquakes. However, as the map below shows, 39 of 50 States are moderate to high risk areas for seismic activity.

Earthquake hazard map

Prepare your organization for emergencies by creating inspection checklist today using a CMMS.