Safety in Tunnels During the Construction Process

1st January, 1970

Safety in Tunnels During the Construction Process

Safety has always been a key concern within the transport industry, the introduction of airbags and complex signalling systems have brought safety levels to new heights. However, many of the safety features which we know are only applicable when the tunnel is fully functional. So what happens if an incident occurs when engineers are fitting a new signalling system in the tunnel? What are we doing to protect them?

Tunnel safety during the construction period is just as important as when it is fully in use. Although the location of the incident can be identical, the surrounding environment will alter the scenario completely. Such differences demands for different precautions to be installed, as well as a varied rescue approach.

The setting

As the tunnel is incomplete, the means of escape will be very different. Depending on the stage of construction, various factors will alter the rescue process. For example, before the breakthrough, there is only one exit/entrance available; meaning only one way in or out for workers, smoke, and emergency teams. At this stage, an alternative strategy will be employed in comparison to when the breakthrough has occurred.

Unlike a fully functional tunnel, heavy machinery and equipment will be present. These obstacles are likely to move around the site every day, meaning evacuation routes will correlate and alter regularly. The combination of narrow passages and obstacles complicates the environment and escape procedures, creating an extra hurdle towards safety.

To worsen the environment even further, multiple organisations can be working on the site. Multiple nationalities could be present, thus a language barrier may occur, which can be problematic if an emergency broke out.

If you’d like to hear more on this matter, join us in Norway this September, as we welcome Phil Deebank, the Principal specialist inspector from the Health and Safety Executive. Phil will be sharing an exclusive case study with us on ‘Escape during tunnelling work, and ‘in-tunnel’, don’t miss out!

Find out more on this year’s event here:


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