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Grand jury lists O.C. quake safety dangers

May 20, 2008|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

Unsecured cabinets and heavy equipment in Orange County government office buildings pose an earthquake safety threat and need to be better inspected, a county grand jury reported Monday.

After touring county facilities, including the Emergency Operations Center and fire authority headquarters, grand jury members found little or no consistency in securing equipment.

The county lacks standards for movable items such as computers, desks and soda machines. County inspections are done inconsistently or not at all, the report said.

The county's 86 safety workers have no training in how to make offices earthquake-safe, the report added.

"The concern is that something may fall on people," said grand jury member Eric Faraldo.

And if a critical piece of equipment such as a computer server were destroyed, it could cripple county business during an emergency, he said.

The grand jury recommended that the county consolidate its safety inspectors under one department and adopt federal safety standards.

The jury also suggested replacing water-based fire sprinklers -- which could damage computers -- with a system using inert gas.

A county spokesman said steps have been taken to address some of the grand jury's concerns.

"We want to make the workplace as safe as we can, and in some departments we are already strapping down equipment," said Thomas Beckett, a county risk management spokesman.

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david.reyes@.latimes.com

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