Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan has spoken of the “total sense of loss” felt by the organisation following Friday’s tragic death of a worker on the project.
The worker was killed at 5am on Friday 7 March while working on a sprayed concrete lining (SCL) crossover tunnel near Holborn station in central London.
The as yet unnamed worker was spraying concrete at the working face when a piece of concrete from the ceiling of the tunnel fell and struck him.
Morgan told NCE that the accident was devastating for all involved on a project where worker safety had been the number one priority.
“First and foremost our thoughts and sympathies are with the family,” he said. “But it is devastating for all of us. We had worked so hard, not just talking about safety, but walking the walk on safety.
“SCL is a proven tunnelling process and undertaken with robotic spraying equipment on Crossrail to mitigate any risks as much as we possibly can, he said.
Morgan said he could not comment directly on the cause of the accident as a thorough investigation is ongoing to understand precisely how this incident happened. But he explained that Crossrail’s initial examination of the circumstances gave it confidence to continue using the technique as planned elsewhere on the project. SCL work restarted on Monday after a stand-down over the weekend but works remain suspended at the Fisher Street site.
“The incident happened at a working face and we have a large number of these across our many working sites. We stood down associated SCL works pending completion of an assurance review involving all contractor sites,” he explained. “We have confidence that the correct processes are being followed so felt able to restart.”
Morgan explained that briefings on the correct SCL process were given to all workers before work was allowed to recommence. “We have spent a lot of time in the last few days on toolbox talks and ensuring that everyone clearly understands our requirements,” he said.
Morgan added that there would still be learning from the investigation.
“A full investigation is being undertaken, and we are working closely with the Health and Safety Executive and our industry partners to understand precisely how this incident happened. We will want to see what lessons are there to be learnt,” said Morgan.
Crossrail’s accident frequency rate is below industry average and Morgan said that the accident would serve to refocus efforts to improve safety performance even further.
“There is nothing so important on Crossrail that is cannot be done safely. At our board meeting safety is the number one item on the agenda and we were encouraged with the level of performance progress being made,” said Morgan. “What it will do is reinforce our commitment to safety and improving standards across the industry.”