The Cost of Disregard

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The recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey tragically claimed over 50,000 lives, mostly due to the quick collapse of poor urban infrastructure. Civil engineers and experts believe that the lack of regulations played a significant role in the quick collapse of buildings.

Videos have surfaced in Turkish media of the president in 2019 praising a policy that let builders off the hook for skirting safety codes that could have made buildings more quake resistant. Turkey has also issued numerous arrest warrants to developers, architects, engineers, and contractors for shoddy construction practices.

These folks likely did not think that skirting regulations would have real-life consequences, and are unfortunately learning a painful lesson.

Codes and regulations cover not just seismic safety, but also safety for fire, smoke, floods, hurricanes, snowstorms, lightning, toxic fumes, electrification, corrosion, crashes, and safety during construction.

Modern building codes also cover elements outside safety concerns, such as accessibility, discrimination, environmental impact, energy independence, water-proofing, wind-proofing, soil contamination, quality of living, and even rodent-proofing.

Even if certain regulations might seem burdensome, or addressing concerns of a distant future, it is not the case. They are usually developed by respected industry organizations such as the ICC (International Code Council) and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), who carefully consider and research the impact of various perils.

Proper regulations and enforcement during construction is still a better option than holding people accountable for lost lives.



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