Working on the London Underground is one of the most challenging of construction environments. Tube Lines’ Beacon Site scheme aims to promote safe practices.
Politicians are usually only seen on construction projects when it suits them to be there – more often than not at some lavish ceremony to signify the start or end of works.
Which makes it all the more significant that Labour MP for the south London borough of Tooting Sadiq Khan took the time to go down the Tube one night earlier this month.
Khan was there to present a team of engineers with the Beacon Award, which recognises safe and responsible working at Tube Lines sites. The team has been responsible for upgrading track in the Tooting area.
Track renewal work often involves breaking out old concrete track formation, replacing small sections of track during limited engineering hours or renewing longer sections during frantic 52-hour weekend possessions. The work is labour intensive and requires manual handling of sleepers and rail in cramped Tube tunnels where noise, dust and temperature generally make work conditions very difficult.
Every night our teams of engineers work to maintain and replace tracks so a safe and reliable service can resume each morning
Trevor Bellis, Tube Lines
Tube Lines introduced its Beacon Site scheme to ensure all work at its project sites and maintenance depots is undertaken safely and considerately. It is based around the Considerate Constructors Scheme but has additional requirements because of the hazardous rail environment.
A Beacon Site will be treated as a model site and other teams will now be able to visit Tooting Broadway Tube station to learn from it. Tube Lines head of delivery Trevor Bellis explains: “Tooting Broadway is one of 50 Beacon Sites across our three lines.
“Each and every Beacon Site is a testament to our excellent health and safety record. Our people work in some of the most hazardous working environments in London. Every night when the rest of London sleeps our teams of engineers are working deep underground to maintain and replace track so that a safe and reliable service can resume each morning. Ensuring their safety while they do this important work is a key priority for us all.”
Tooting Broadway Tube station is also being refurbished as is Balham station. Both stations are benefiting from extended engineering hours; the stations will close at 10pm between Sunday and Thursday. This will enable more work to get done as the normal window can often be less than four hours. Both stations will be completed by May 2010.
How to be a beacon
Any Tube Lines site can seek beacon status by demonstrating excellence in six areas
1. Safety – all aspects of site activity and the promotion of care, consideration and safety of all personnel, visitors and the public. Safety training and its impact are measured.
2. Environment – noise from construction operations and employees must be minimised and measures adopted to reduce waste, recycle and protect local wildlife.
3. Cleanliness – all aspects of the site must be kept clean and tidy.
4. Consideration – the impact of work on others
5. Management and values – paperwork must be completed properly and team members demonstrate a safe working ethos.
6. Site specific – the scheme is flexible so can demand special requirements for each site.