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BRIDGE COLLAPSE

TfL takes collective responsibility for bridge failure

Transport for London (TfL) has published a report into an incident in May 2008 involving a rail bridge being built outside Liverpool Street station. The bridge dropped after sub-contractors, using temporary supports, made final adjustments before placing it on its permanent fixtures. Temperature induced movement caused the temporary supports to be ejected from their position, resulting in the bridge dropping. The incident caused concrete decking to fall onto rail lines below and services into Liverpool Street station to be suspended overnight.

The TfL Director for Safety has admitted that it was the collective responsibility of TfL and it’s contractors to ensure their procedures worked. A plate was wrongly positioned and working methods were not cleared with the site Principal Contractor or TfL project engineers. No method statement was prepared for checking when it should have been. TfL state that the following actions have been taken:

  • tightened up supervision over contractors;
  • made the findings available to the industry to prevent a repetition and;
  • identified the causes and put in place procedures so that it cannot happen again.
  • ‘Balfour Beatty-Carillion has upgraded its system of checking sub-contractors

Comment: Publication of this report is to be commended and shows a refreshing openess. The workforce and rail users need to be assured that when construction work is carried out on the network the risks will be properly controlled. However, if ‘Blue Chip’ clients and major contractors are still prone to such significant system failures it shows how far others may need to go in order to secure consistent and robust management of health and safety in construction.    

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