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journalist query - factors of safety

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Greetings. I’m trying to learn about factors of safety in general terms. In levees/floodwalls, documents show the standard FOS to be 1.3. We’ve had some engineers saying this was too low, at least for New Orleans, given the extreme risks involved with a breach during a hurricane. But I am trying to set this issue in context. What are typical safety factors for other kinds of structures – dams, highway overpasses, hospital buildings, etc. Are they prescribed by code or statute in some cases, or by some other means? How are extreme risks, loss of life, property, etc. taken into account? I won’t publish comments generated on this list. Just seeking input/perspective at this point.

Thanks,

 

John McQuaid

The Times Picayune, New Orleans

Washington bureau

1101 Connecticut Ave. NW s. 300

Washington, DC 20036

202-383-7889

john.mcquaid(--nospam--at)newhouse.com