Keeping safe

14 November 2019


In this issue we have a fire protection angle. You will find several articles covering an incident in Gdansk, variable frequency drives, the impact of fire events on tunnel linings and a piece on the latest health and safety thinking in this area.


In keeping with health and safety, the revision of BS6164 (the British Standard that sets out the code of practice for health and safety in tunnelling in the construction industry) is due to be fully edited as this issue goes to press. Details of changes to the 2011 version should be coming out shortly, but a few companies have already spoken to me about making preparations for an increase in demand for certain products. In any case, I am in the position of sending a heavily health-and-safety themed issue to the printer while already having to think about the next one. So in spring 2020 we will run a special focus detailing the changes that have come in BS6164 and a few selected articles on companies and products relevant to these changes.

One such area will be air quality. Last month I visited the Sydney Metro, which is taking immense care to keep its workers safe from silica dust as they tunnel through the local sandstone. Readers may remember an article by Kate Cole who is spearheading these efforts for the client, Transport for NSW. Work here does not just involve monitoring air quality and providing appropriate PPE, but even at the design level by ensuring that adits are designed to be large enough to accommodate roadheaders that are equipped with sealed cabins. So not necessarily building the most efficient structure from a cost or excavated material point of view, but taking into account all other factors to improve the project environment. This has required cooperation between the client, consultants, designers and the contractor, a JV led by John Holland.

I also visited the Forrestfield-Airport Link, where contractor Salini Impregilo – NRW has made some changes to the final TBM backup gantry to make the management of the pipes a safer process for workers in the tunnel and reduce the risk of nipped fingers or slipping on wet pipes and generally make the working area more pleasant and safer. The contractor feels that these changes, to be detailed in a future article, will be taken on board by Herrenknecht for future Variable Density machines. So health and safety improvements can be made even to aspects of the job that seem set, like a TBM. 

If your company has a process or a product that might be worth covering in this issue, or any other, get in touch: [email protected]