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Machine and equipment fasteners can be an integral part of office safety. Few companies are as aware of the need for desktop restraint systems as the contingency planners at Pacific Bell. Staggering exposure—2400 California quake-prone facilities housing approximately 44,000 unsecured table, desk and shelf-top pieces of equipment—gave Pacific Bell a vested interest in finding a cost-effective, secure-yet-moveable, easy-to-install method of securing computer, telecommunications components, and other equipment.
A solution was discovered in the industrial version of the widely used Velcro hook and loop fasteners. Originally designed for automotive and aerospace applications, including NASA’s Shuttle program, the holding strength of the industrial fasteners was found to exceed expectations.
For pilot testing, Pacific Bell Safety Advisor, Virgil Graf enlisted the aid of Velcro USA’s earthquake consultant Bill Hopkins. The two worked with product engineers to develop prototype fasteners for office product applications. This project resulted in a fully developed line of specialty fasteners that Velcro introduced commercially as “Quake/Grip tm” in March, 1988.
The fasteners consist of various sized blocks, foot pads and leashes. Data supplied by the manufacturer indicates a holding strength of from 22 to 88 lbs. per fastener, usually installed in sets of four. Conservative weight guidelines were established to anticipate the uncertainties of quake-generated inertia and G-forces. (Studies made after the 1983, 6.4 earthquake in Coalinga, Calif., indicated that a Selectric typewriter was hurtled into an office wall at 35 mph.)
The growing popularity of the fasteners appears to be a combination of favorable cost and user flexibility generally not found in hardware-based restraint systems. As seen in Figure II, desktop equipment valued at $12,000 remained intact on a toppled desk at a fastening cost of $30.
A big plus for the fasteners is user flexibility. Fastened equipment can be removed and reattached, or relocated in minutes. The non-hardening, acrylic-based adhesive which hold the fastening pads, bonds in an hour, yet the pads can be detached by hand from desk surfaces and machines.
Diverse Fastening Applications
Velcro’s new fasteners are being used for a wide range of applications. During an informal survey of organizations currently using or testing the fasteners, the following comments were generated.
Robert Lee, Vice President, Emergency Planning and Physical Security, Great Western Financial Corporation, said “Its the only product of its type that I would consider for our needs.” Citing “sheer ease of installation,” he added: “For certain items there are no labor costs. We can hand a PC (fastening) Kit to an employee, teach him how to install it by memo, or just have him read the enclosed instructions.” Commenting on bonus security benefits, Lee also noted that the fasteners are a deterrent to theft, “It inhibits people from picking up equipment and carrying it away.”
After initiating a functional lab evaluation of Quake/Grip, First Interstate Bank Vice President David Harris, pronounced it “quite useable, quite satisfactory, relatively low cost and very worthwhile.” The fasteners are currently being installed at First Interstate’s Los Angeles Operations Center.
At the California Specialized Training Institute, a training agency for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Coordinator James Petroni, defines Quake/Grip as “slick, simple non-structural mitigation.”
Citing high-value desk equipment as a prime application, Petroni sees a need for it in hospitals as well as city and county emergency centers. “Physically small equipment with a high unit value is likely to survive a seismic event intact; In an emergency, blood-typing equipment is priceless.” To that end, Kaiser Permanente is implementing Quake/Grip into 37 hospital laboratories in Northern California.
General Telephone recently issued a corporate standardization for Velcro fasteners company-wide. According to Barbara Polland, GTE’s Disaster Preparedness Coordinator and past president of BICEPP (Business and Industrial Council for Emergency Planning and Preparedness) “The fasteners represent a minimal investment versus downtime and equipment replacement costs.”
Hughes Aircraft is also serious about protecting its hardware investment. Phones too. Underscoring the vulnerability of networked systems linked by phone lines, Richard Flisik, Sr. Facilities Design Engineer, states: “Without communications, we’re out of business.” At Hughes Ground Systems Group, telephone equipment as well as “the facility’s 7000 computers and 1700 typewriters are attached to desktops with Quake/Grip to prevent employee injury and equipment damage.”
At Unocal Corporation, Systems Support Manager, Gerald Beebe says “terminals, printers and computers will be secured withQuake/Grip” to speed business resumption after a major quake. We can’t risk major equipment outage, the stakes are too high.”
The City and County of Los Angeles are also advocating the use of Quake/Grip fasteners within their departments. Chief Frank Borden, Commander of the Disaster Preparedness Division of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, demonstrates mitigation techniques to L.A. area businesses. In addition to securing desktop and standing items, he advises the use of restraining straps to prevent fire extinguishers from falling and being damaged during an earthquake.
Velcro USA is a corporate sponsor or BICEPP and is an active member of the Association of Contingency Planners and the California Emergency Services Association.
Richard Sandhofer is an editor with the Disaster Recovery Journal.
This article adapted from Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 42.