New Options Proposed for Non-Structural Seismic Compliance

by Carl Scheuerman, President, CS Strategies


OSHPD has presented new draft options for NPC-4 compliance for operators with hospital buildings built before 1983 to the Hospital Building Safety Board (HBSB).  The draft was prepared for ultimate inclusion into the 2019 building code to offer a greater range of alternative approaches for compliance with the non-structural requirements of the Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act.

Hospital buildings built prior to 1983 may not have had all of the non-structural bracing and anchoring required for a full NPC-4 certification due to different code and enforcement conditions at the time.  It now appears that in some cases the effort to fully comply has been more expensive and disruptive to care operations than intended, and may not properly align with the owner’s long term plans for the facility.   A new non-structural performance category, NPC-4D, is proposed for adoption into code that will allow this group of hospitals to make cost-effective decisions that tie their non-structural retrofit plans more closely to the specific services provided in qualifying buildings as well as the facility’s overall strategic plan.  

Under the proposed amendments, a facility with buildings intended to provide general acute care services in 2030 and beyond may pursue one of three compliance levels provided in NPC-4D instead of NPC-4.   Under the proposed changes for the 2019 code, the following standards will apply:

  • All hospital buildings in use after 2029 must meet NPC-3 requirements for critical care areas as currently defined in code.  
  • The facility choosing to pursue an NPC-4D classification must prepare an Operational Plan detailed in the draft regulations to submit to OSHPD describing plans for utility restoration and repair of non-structural systems, alternative service plans and expansion of 72 hour capacities.  
  • The facility can then choose to go the NPC-4D route at one of the following levels:
    • Level 1 – NPC-3 and Operational Plan minimum requirements, including a plan to bring services back on line or to provide then in an alternate manner;
    • Level 2 – Level 1 requirements plus requirements to anchor or brace utilities from their sources to critical care areas, as well as key elevators;
    • Level 3 – Level 2 requirements plus additional specific service locations not required by previous levels chosen by the hospital are anchored or braced.

The proposed NPC-4D standards will be presented to the full HBSB on March 28th in Sacramento for final recommendation for advancement to the California Building Standards Commission.   The draft Express Terms are posted on the HBSB web site for public review.  Check the meeting archives for all of the code changes for 2019 being proposed by OSHPD for ultimate debate and adoption by the California Building Standards Commission later this year.  

Things are evolving rapidly at OSHPD; CSHE members are encouraged to keep abreast of changes by following the activity of the Hospital Building Safety Board.