NEWS Against alarmism, in favor of better safety standards

Against alarmism, in favor of better safety standards

A woman and her two-and-a-half-year-old son were killed after reinforcements collapsed at the pier under construction of the Nanma Metro (Bangalore Metro) on the outer ring road near Henur.

The quay reinforcement was fixed on site as part of the ongoing 37km Metro Phase 2B Outer Ring Road Blue Line project, which will run between K. R Puram in Devanahalli and Kempegowda International Airport (KIAL). Engineering firm NCC Ltd is carrying out the work.

Many netizens took to social media to vent their anger, questioning the quality of the work and the negligence of the contractor. Few even advocated stopping the city’s subway work altogether, which is happening rapidly after years of slow progress. With more than 100 kilometers of subway network likely to be added this year and in the coming years, the Namma subway will be an important transport backbone for the city’s 15 million residents.

Given the scale of the subway network our city is building, Tuesday’s events once again underscore one of the many challenges the city’s transit authorities will face.

Urban rail, also known as metro, has grown tremendously in India in recent years. The length of subway projects in operation has reached 824 kilometers, and construction of another 1,039 kilometers is in progress. Accidents at subway stations have raised fears that safety standards will be compromised in the rush to build new lines.

Against this backdrop, here is an attempt to point out the safety issues associated with subway construction work, and some measures that can help balance the rapid rollout of urban transit with the safety of workers, motorists, and pedestrians. Metro progress.

major security risk

Civil engineering for any subway project involves four processes: road diversion and barricades, followed by piling, construction of piers and erection of girders.

Each stage involves thousands of workers and significant movement of heavy machinery. Therefore, safety accidents such as high-altitude falls, collapses, object impacts, vehicle injuries, and serious injuries often occur during subway construction.

The occurrence of accidents is often related to human factors such as the complex geological conditions of the subway project, the construction environment, and the low level of safety monitoring on the construction site.

However, two significant risks of subway-related accidents are the lack of safety awareness of on-site staff and on-site safety monitoring.

lack of security awareness

A significant portion of the on-site workforce for subway projects tends to be interstate immigrant workers. While many of them are highly skilled and work hard under harsh project conditions, imparting a high level of safety awareness can be an operational challenge given the lack of formal education and cultural attitudes toward safety standards.

The lack of safety knowledge and weak safety awareness are reflected in accident statistics, most of which are attributed to unsafe conditions. workers’ work practices.

Security Monitoring

The latest incident in Bengaluru has been attributed to the negligence of a contractor commissioned by Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL).

Safety monitoring and early warning is of great significance to subway construction projects and is one of the key tasks of the subway management department.

Consider how, after a series of accidents in the early 2010s, the DMRC launched a special campaign to train the workers and supervisors of all the contractors it worked with.

The company directed all construction companies to organize a three-day accelerated training program, equivalent to 18 hours of training, for all employees working on construction sites, including subcontractors.

according to a Report inside deccan heraldBMRCL follows “strictly” the method statement, a document that details how each piece of work should be carried out.

“Every stage of the work was inspected, first by the contractor’s safety engineers, then by our engineers and an independent agency,” the source explained.

Such incidents are often followed by the usual knee-jerk reactions, with top officials suspended and contractors blacklisted or fined. However, Metro authorities should ensure that all checklists are followed to prevent such incidents and conduct safety audits more diligently.

environmental impact

The risks posed by subway construction work are magnified many times by the urban environment.

The environment of the subway line is complex, such as a densely populated urban area, with many tall buildings and dense underground pipelines. Some areas still have existing infrastructure with huge traffic volumes.

In this case, subway construction is likely to have a greater impact on the surrounding environment, and there are potential safety hazards.

Experts say better safety measures are needed in metro areas, which are closer to traffic and homes. Contractors often cite a lack of space to maneuver equipment, but that’s hardly a valid excuse.

Is the situation worrisome?

According to RTI’s reply, the construction of the Delhi Metro between 2002 and 2018 resulted in the death of 156 people and the injury of 103 workers. Another data also showed that 198 accidents resulted in the death of 118 people who were not involved in the subway construction during the same period.

However, all metro projects have a lower accident rate compared to similar construction projects around the world.

China has built a staggering number of subway networks (46 are currently in operation) over the past 25 years, including the world’s longest subway network at 803 km, the Shanghai Metro, but has also seen a high number of construction-related accidents.

For example, Beijing’s subway construction will become the most extensive subway network in the world, but its safety hazards have always attracted attention. As of December 31, 2021, 40 cities in mainland China have opened subways, with a total mileage of 7253.73 kilometers (China Metro Association, 2022). According to statistics from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People’s Republic of China, from 2011 to 2016, there were nearly 80 accidents in subway construction.

The hasty pace of construction in China has resulted in an astonishingly high accident rate — worse than accidents at subway sites in India. Chinese state media has also become increasingly critical of safety standards in construction projects.

“The rapid pace of subway construction has derailed quality control,” Beijing commented after the infamous Hangzhou accident. “Amid lax supervision, subway construction contractors put production safety on the back burner in pursuit of speed and profit, threatening workers’ lives,” the commentary said.

what’s next

The safety parameters to be practiced in the construction process of the subway project are relatively good, and measures should be taken according to local conditions. Achieving the highest level of safety standards is often a “work in progress” – every accident presents an opportunity to learn and reset safety norms to prevent future recurrences.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), considered the benchmark for urban transport in the country, has taken steps to successfully and safely build four phases of the 61.5-kilometer network.

These include carefully planned traffic diversions with law enforcement officers guiding motorists, three-tiered crash barriers, dedicated road user access and barrier lighting. In addition to the safety of road users, DMRC also takes into account the safety of on-site workers. Large vehicles with a buffer on the side facing the traffic are placed at a distance from the work area.

All vehicles used in construction work have speed governors to keep them from exceeding a predetermined speed. In addition, the construction vehicle is also equipped with “lateral and rear underbody protection devices” to prevent accidental entanglement with other vehicles and avoid serious injury to vehicle occupants.

Any death is unfortunate, but deaths do happen. It is important that metro authorities and contractors continually strive to follow standards, implement best practices, and respond proactively to lessons learned.

Indian cities are expanding rapidly in size and number. Therefore, it is imminent to develop an efficient public transportation system in cities to cater to the rapidly growing urban population.

The goal must be to prioritize urban transport, because the more people who choose public transport, the more likely we are to save the environment and the lives of future generations.

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