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Crossrail Worker Killed by Concrete

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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Europe’s largest construction project has been marred by its first worker fatality, after a contractor died Friday (March 7) when he was struck by a piece of concrete.

The 43-year-old unidentified worker suffered severe head injuries on the Crossrail project and was pronounced dead at the scene about 5 a.m. near Holborn, in central London. 

The worker had been spraying concrete lining in a tunnel for the £14.8 billion ($24.6 billion USD) railway project, when a piece fell from the tunnel ceiling and hit him, authorities said. 

Crossrail fatality

A 43-year-old contractor died after a piece of concrete fell on him while he was working on a tunnel for Crossrail, Europe's largest construction project. The fatality is the first for the project, which involves digging 26 miles of new tunnels under London.

When the incident occurred, work was underway to build a crossover tunnel between two train tunnels that have already been built by boring machines. 

The London Fire Brigade used specially trained rescue crews and equipment, including rope rescue gear, to retrieve the man from the shaft. 

Work Suspended; Investigation Begins

Crossrail said in a statement that the family had been informed.

"Our first and foremost thoughts are with the family and friends affected by this," the agency said.

"Safety is our number-one priority, and Crossrail sets the most stringent safety requirements in the industry. Despite this terrible incident, Crossrail's accident rate is below the industry average."

Crossrail has suspended all work at the site and associated works "across the project."

An investigation was underway. The Metropolitan Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national independent watchdog for work-related health and safety, have been to the site.

BFK construction

The project contractor, BFK, says the company excels at sprayed concrete lining technology.

Crossrail was established in 2001 and is a subsidiary of Transport for London. Work started in May 2009, and more than 10,000 people are now working at more than 40 construction sites. 

In total, eight tunnel boring machines will dig 26 miles of new tunnels underneath London, excavating 4.5 million tonnes of material that will be shipped to Wallasea Island in Essex to create a 1,500-acre nature reserve. The majority of tunneling is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.

Union: 'Serious Questions'

Unite, Britain's biggest labor union, has called on project contractor BFK to explain the circumstances surrounding the fatality. BFK is a joint venture by BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier Construction.

"Crossrail's contractor BFK has some serious questions to answer," Guy Langston, Unite's regional officer for Crossrail, said in a statement.

"Unite is particularly concerned about health and safety at the site, because this is not the first serious incident. In December 2012, a worker sustained horrific burns when he cut through a cable. 

"We now expect BFK to meet with Unite as a matter of urgency. The contractor must explain how it intends to do everything in its power to ensure that a tragic incident like this does not happen again."

According to BFK's website, sprayed concrete lining technology is an area in which the company excels. The company has not issued a statement and has deferred questions to Crossrail, according to local media reports. 


Tagged categories: Concrete; Contractors; Fatalities; Health and safety; Linings; Project Management; Rail; Tunnel

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