A MINER was crushed by a sudden rockfall during excavation work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link's North Downs Tunnel last month.
Shane Holliday, 30, was freed by colleagues and rushed to Maidstone Hospital where his left leg and right hand were later amputated. He worked for Miller Civil Engineering, part of the Eurolink consortium, which is constructing the tunnel using sprayed concrete techniques.
The accident happened at the end of November under Blue Bell Hill, near Maidstone in Kent. A large chalk block fell from the roof as the tunnelling crew was putting up steel mesh as part of the primary shotcrete tunnel lining. Before the boulder fell, rock anchors, spiles and a flash coat of shotcrete had been applied to stabilise the ground.
The Health & Safety Executive were investigating after being informed about the accident by the police. Investigators did not issue any notices to stop work.
Project manager Rail Link Engineering insisted that the accident had not jeopardised the integrity of the 3.2 km long, 13m wide and 10m high tunnel.
'No adverse movements or ground instability have been recorded in the 1.8 km of tunnel which has been driven to date,' it said, pointing out that engineers were working with the HSE to discover why the block fell.
RLE said that it was the first serious accident on the CTRL since construction started on Section 1 in October 1998. 'So far the project's safety performance has been excellent.'