Senate Bill 1953

SB 1953 requires all California General Acute-Care Hospitals to meet graduated structural and nonstructural seismic strengthening requirements by established deadlines of January 1, 2002, 2008, and 2030. The extent of work required depends on the structural design, age, and use of the impacted buildings. The structural retrofit of the buildings may include the strengthening of columns, the addition of shear walls within existing buildings, and the addition of steel cross-bracing members. SB 1953 affects acute-care hospitals only throughout California. It affects both hospitals and buildings which provide support to hospital operations such as central plants and laboratories.

There are four established deadlines that all hospital owners in California are required to meet in order to keep their hospitals operating. The “initial” deadline was January 1, 2001, is for hospital owners to submit their Evaluation Reports to OSHPD. At that time, they were also required to submit a Compliance Plan for all non-complying facilities, with a strategy and schedule for bringing non-complying facilities into compliance by the ultimate deadline of 2030. Compliance Plan choices are to abandon, retrofit or replace the buildings.

In order to allow continued operation of hospitals from 2002 until 2008, the Compliance Plan must include a strategy to anchor and brace all OSHPD-designated essential equipment (nonstructural) before the “first” retrofit compliance deadline of January 1, 2002.

By January 1, 2008 (“second” retrofit compliance deadline), hospital buildings were required to have their structural systems retrofitted to prevent catastrophic collapse and provide for the safe evacuation of the hospital buildings following a major seismic event. The nonstructural systems and equipment in critical care areas, such as radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, and sterile supply areas, must also be adequately anchored and braced. If the required retrofits were completed prior to January 1, 2008, the hospitals were permitted to continue operations until 2030.

All structural and nonstructural systems of a hospital building must be brought into full compliance with the structural provisions of the Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act by the “final” compliance deadline of January 1, 2030. At this level of compliance, hospitals are capable of reasonably providing continued operations following a major seismic event. This implies no significant structural damage and continued uninterruptible service of all utilities and supplies. The nonstructural compliance requirements with this deadline include retrofit work to provide for 72-hour potable water, emergency fuel, and waste storage.

Senate Bill (SB) 1953 — that requires upgrades to hospital buildings to enhance resilience to seismic events. Since the passage of SB 1953, hospitals have been implementing structural and nonstructural upgrades to comply with the standards.