Non-Structural Seismic Bracing


When an earthquake shakes unrestrained objects, they can slide, swing, overturn, or strike people or other objects. File cabinets, freestanding bookshelves, office equipment, and items stored on shelves or racks can all cause serious injuries by their movement during an earthquake.

Most injuries that occur during earthquakes are caused by the movement of the building’s contents, not by the movement of the building itself.

The Non-Structural Earthquake Seismic Bracing or Q-Brace program document provides guidance to campus departments to address non-structural seismic safety hazards.  It was adopted from FEMA-74: “Reducing the Risks of Non-Structural Earthquake Damage”

Bracing Guidelines

Common Building Contents

The Q-Brace program document provides directions for proper restraint of common building contents in typical spaces on the UC Berkeley campus. The individual detail sheets below are designed to cover common contents in each kind of space, and the materials called for are generic supplies available in most hardware and building supply stores.

Unique Building Contents

In some cases, a custom design may be necessary to restrain larger, heavier, or unique equipment. If you can’t find directions in the Q-Brace document for the equipment you are bracing, or the unique situation you confront, please follow below procedures:

  1. Special or unique building equipment that exceeds 400 pounds and has a center of gravity of 4-ft or taller shall be seismically restrained.

  2. The design of the restraint system shall be performed by a qualified structural engineer  

  3. In order to ensure the installation meets code and campus requirements, departments seeking to install and restrain this kind of equipment should initiate a project with Capital Strategies (  This allows for a Project Manager to facilitate the hiring of a contractor and structural engineer (SE) to design the restraint system which will be subsequently reviewed by our Capital Strategies SEs for approval.  Additionally, this process will involve the campus Building Department and appropriate permit requirements and inspections.  

Although some of the bracing can be performed by department staff, assistance from craftspeople at Facilities Services or departmental shops may be needed to install more complicated bracing.

Bracing Illustrations

Detailed bracing illustrations for table and bench top equipment, electronic equipment, refrigerator components, and shelving and storage are found in the Q-Brace document.