6. Safety first!

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Safety in both the workplace and the tunnel itself might not be the flashiest part of civil construction, but it is by far the most important. As engineers, that’s our job - to build stuff that’s safe and functional. 

This process is legislated and involves continual workplace health and safety (WPHS) risk assessments. That means considering safety from the moment we start surveying and designing, to while we’re constructing, all the way to how safe the tunnel will be to dispose of at the end its life cycle – for example, by making sure that tunnel cladding isn’t flammable or toxic. 

The four main principles of WHS are:

  1. To secure the health, safety and welfare of employees and other people at work;
  2. To protect the public from the health and safety risks of business activities;
  3. To eliminate workplace risks at the source; and
  4. To involve employers, employees, and associated organisations in the implementation for health and safety standards. 

The video below will give you an overview on construction safety rules.

Task: Complete this interactive construction safety diagram to give you an overview of the kind of problems and pitfalls to watch out for at a construction site.

Once you've done that, have a look at this tunnelling safety guide prepared by Safe Work Australia. This is a comprehensive overview of risks and hazards specific to tunnelling projects, and how they are mitigated. It's also a useful resource to keep in you back pocket for reference in your final project!