The challenge of properly managing health and safety often results in the most extraordinary innovations, and this one is no different. Telford-based, steel manufacturing firm Fabweld Steel Products (FSP) has design-engineered pioneering, new stretcher access covers for use in service shafts in power tunnels under London. It comes as part of the London Power Tunnels project for the National Grid and is hoped to make emergency extraction of workers during accidents, injuries or with minor health complaints much easier.
At in inception in 2011, the London Power Tunnels project made its ambitious aims clear and, by 2018, National Grid hopes to carried out a major overhaul of the underground power network in line with growing demand. Chiefly, the project sees the construction of a 32km-long electricity highway comprising more the twelve 15m-wide shafts at a depth of up to 60m.
With such grand plans for the UKâs power network however, National Grid has reserved emphasis for all aspects of health and safety, ensuring that the strategy of growth doesnât prevent or diminish its current exemplary health and safety status. The installation of access covers across all service shafts forms part of that focus. Through a long design and development process, FSP has created covers that can withstand loads of up to 11.5t. The steel used is also two-hour fire rated and, more importantly, the covers can be operated by a single person. FSPâs intelligent design will be invaluable during both major and minor incidents, allowing for fast and effective removal of workers thereby mitigating risk of fatality.
Sites to receive the FSPâs steel access covers include Willesden, Wimbledon, Kensal Green, Hackney, St Johns Wood and St Pancras.
Despite FSPâs existing knowledge of the market and the breadth of its range, National Gridâs unique requirements saw the firm develop a suitably bespoke product. In addition to those features cited earlier, the cover has been entirely demountable so as to facilitate essential maintenance works. Using specialist 3D-modelling software and analysis tools, FSP returned to the design on numerous occasions â amending and adapting it in order to minimise defects and reduce the risk of failure down the line.
The end product is of a specialism never before seen in the industry and, in fact, has now been made available to customers of FSPâs general portfolio. As such, proper health and safety management in challenging locations looks ever easier to achieve and the London Power Tunnels project is most certainly one to look out for.