Take Extra Care With Filing Cabinets In Quake Zones

Living in a quake zone means taking extra steps to ensure furniture won't fall on top of you if the ground starts to shake. If you're in an office, this is especially important because offices usually have cubicle walls that aren't the sturdiest anchor points for tall furniture. File cabinets are a particular danger because of their weight and the fact that they have these easy-rolling drawers that can inflict extra damage. Here are ways to keep yourself safe around filing cabinets in a quake zone.

Lock Those Drawers

It would be difficult to keep all of the drawers of a filing cabinet closed and locked all of the time—sometimes, you've got to have one of those drawers open to access the space. But the other drawers must lock automatically or catch on something if they are closed. The drawers don't have to lock in the sense that you'd need a key to open each individual drawer; office filing cabinets still have just one keyed lock for the entire cabinet. But the drawers do have to lock in the sense that if they close, they trip some sort of latch so that they don't suddenly slide out if the cabinet undergoes shaking.

Floor Bolts

Quake safety typically includes bolting furniture to walls, usually with L-brackets near the top where people can't see them. That's not always a good idea in offices. For one, the drywall on the walls and the studs in the walls might not be strong enough to hold up a heavy cabinet that's being shaken violently. In addition to that, if the cabinet is near a cubicle wall, that type of wall will just fall down too during a quake if the cabinet tips over.

Bolt the furniture to the floor in this case. You should still add bolts to the walls—even cubicle walls—toward the base and middle of the furniture, but definitely bolt the items to the floor itself. Also be sure to balance the weight of the furniture in cubicles by bolting something else to the other side of the cubicle wall. So if you've got a wall with a filing cabinet on one side, the person in the cubicle next to yours that shares that wall should bolt his or her filing cabinet to the other side of the same wall.

If you're in an end cubicle and there won't be furniture on the other side, bolt the wall of the cubicle to the floor. Use strong bolts and try to add furniture in your cubicle that would block the wall if it tipped over. For example, a desktop can extend over to that wall in the corner, along with one of those upper cabinets that are so common in cubicle systems.

Weight Distribution

Place heavier items at the bottom of the filing cabinet. If all the cabinet will hold are paper files, try to place as many as you can in the bottom drawers instead of stuffing them into the top drawers.

One other weight issue to note: Storing too much in the overhead cabinets in cubicle furniture systems can cause the wall to topple in shaking, taking anything on the other side with it. Always be aware of how much you're putting in upper parts of cubicle system furniture. Move heavy books to lower locations.

If you need more information about quake safety around filing cabinets in an office, talk to both the cubicle system manufacturer and your state or city's quake management division. Even if you don't think shaking in your area would be too bad, remember that new faults can be discovered at any time. Don't take a chance with your safety. Click for more info on this topic.