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The utility industry is regularly required to call on an enormous and varied range of specialists; from mapping, to drilling, to wastewater treatment, to asset management, to pipe relining, to pipeline integrity, to land access, to risk management, and the list goes on. To make the process a little easier, Utility magazine is bringing together experts from various fields to answer your questions.

Safety should be the number one priority across all microtunnelling job sites, but how can you be sure that your contractor is taking safety measures seriously across the board?

To what extent can you trust their equipment safety measures, and how can you ensure that personnel consistently choose safety first?

From advanced equipment technologies to their construction business model, there are a number of things microtunnellers can do to ensure that safety requirements are kept at a high level without fail.

Thanks to organisations like WorkSafe Australia, there has been a growth of awareness in overall safety within the drilling industry. From my experience, having seen and worked on many jobsites internationally, Australia leads the way in site safety and awareness.

However, the reality of jobsite safety is that there is a lot of old equipment still being used by contractors throughout the country. The newer the equipment, the more safety features included, so it is important to choose a contractor with up-­to-­date machinery.

Things to look out for that can make a microtunnelling contractor safer include:

  • Operator protection from the surrounding environment. Being in the bottom of a launch pit operating a microtunnelling machine opens up operators to the risk of being struck with falling objects. Look for a contractor who has a Falling Object Protective System (FOPS) safety enclosure as part of their set up
  • In­-built pressure gauges. Pressure gauges feed information to the operator of the machine, notifying them of changes in ground pressure – with this information, operators can change path if necessary to avoid dangerous situations such as asset strikes
  • An operator who will complete a pilot shot. Doing so enables the operator to assess the ground conditions, so when it comes time to begin drilling, again they’re more likely to involve costly and dangerous asset strikes
  • Minimal pit requirements. A microtunneller that is able to reduce the number of pits required during construction – and the amount of time operators spend getting into and out of pits – will make the entire job safer for the crew, and safer for the local community.

About Stuart Harrison

Global microtunnelling pioneer Stuart Harrison is the Managing Director of Edge Underground, where he specialises in on­grade microtunnelling installations with millimetre accuracy. Stuart is also the inventor of the Vermeer AXIS Guided Boring system, and he is constantly working to improve the effectiveness of this and other trenchless systems used in the installation of gravity sewers. To discuss your next microtunnelling installation, contact Stuart on 0458 000 009 or at [email protected]

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Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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