Barhale Construction plc scoops a Scheme award for considerately replacing 200-year-old water mains in West London

Barhale Construction plc proved its considerate credentials after receiving a Silver CCS National Site Award 2016 for its Sussex Gardens Trunk Water Mains Replacement (Phase 1) project.

Barhale’s work involved installing a new pipe in Stanhope Terrace, London, which allowed Thames Water to throttle the mains in Sussex Gardens while the Crossrail drilling machine worked underneath.

Thames Water was re-laying trunk water mains at Sussex Gardens near Paddington Station, following the passing of a Crossrail tunnel boring machine through the area in 2012.

In the agreement to allow the tunnel boring machine to drill under the six trunk mains in Sussex Gardens, Crossrail’s contractor Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) employed Barhale to install Syrinex Monitoring devices; this monitoring system employs early warning equipment on a real-time basis to flag up imminent risks, and to ensure warnings are active and effective rather than reactive.

A commitment was also given by Crossrail that Barhale would re-line any water mains that fell outside the maximum allowable settlement level, which meant that five mains needed to be re-laid. Thames Water were procured to replace these mains and employed Barhale as the contractor because of its experience of large diameter trunk main works and its local knowledge.

The project was split into two phases and in essence Phase One was a test model for Phase Two. In summary, Phase One consisted of the following:

  • The slip lining of 50m of 36” of cast iron pipe water main with polyethylene (PE) plastic pipe. (This main was laid in 1867).
  • The slip lining of 50m of 15” of cast iron pipe water main with PE pipe. (This main was laid in 1942).
  • The slip lining of 50m of 21” of Cast Iron pipe water main with PE pipe. (This main was laid in 1825).

Phase Two of the project, involving two mains believed to have been constructed circa 1820 and 1870, involved:

  • The replacement of approximately 78m of 36” Cast Iron Water Main, using a combination of open cut and slip-lining methods to achieve full replacement.
  • The replacement of approximately 94m of 30” Cast Iron Water Main, using a combination of open cut and slip-lining methods to achieve full replacement.

When Barhale started this contract, the project team set goals to tie in with both Barhale Values and the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice. These were included in the Construction Phase Plan which everyone was briefed on, ensuring that all site employees understood this joint passion for best practice.

Pinpointing the challenges encountered during the project, John said:

“It has been a challenge explaining the complexity of the work to the community and justifying how long the project will take to members of the public. This is especially the case for close neighbours and businesses because in their minds the plans generalised the work as the replacement of short sections of water pipes.”

Here are some examples of best practice initiatives carried out by Barhale Construction Ltd:

  • There is an opportunity for passers-by to view the works where it can be seen that the organisation of the site, presentation of equipment and operatives in full PPE are a positive and interesting display of the industry at its best.
  • To inform the passing public, the project team added information to external notice boards detailing the operations, as well as information promoting the company, along with newsletters, photographs and public safety information.
  • Accommodation units were set up to provide screening where required, in particular the dedicated smoking area.
  • All areas of operations were strictly monitored through a start of shift walkaround and an end of shift walkaround.
  • Detailed Crossrail Information sheets (that had the Crossrail helpdesk number and the Considerate Constructors Scheme Client Partner logo on them) were hand-delivered to all residents before the work started and during the project. These informed residents of progress and any upcoming situations such as closing the road for anti-skid works or remedial works that would have localised bus diversions.
  • Links were established with immediate neighbours to ascertain the possible impact of the work. Presentations were carried out to the Paddington Liaison Group’s bi-annual meetings while work was undertaken at Sussex Garden, including ‘questions and answers’ sessions to enable local residents to air their concerns and suggestions.
  • The site technician on his own initiative came up with the idea of using one-off branded High Viz vests emblazoned with the local school crest, along with the heading “YOUNG ENGINEER”, which was a brilliant effort to get the children interested in the engineering profession.
  • Two local school visits were organised which gave the visiting team an opportunity to explain to local parents the complexity of the project to locals, while showing the children around the site. The visit concluded with a questions and answers session, which covered careers in construction, in relation to the roles on-site.
  • Presentations to the children were carried out by the project team’s young engineers, which helped them to improve their presentation skills. The young engineers and technician also devised some practical exercises for the children to enjoy such as ‘big Jenga’ and ‘handprints in concrete’. This injected a bit of interactive fun into the working environment.
  • As part of the Scheme, the project team looked at organising a charity day and came up with the idea of cooking a Christmas breakfast in Christmas jumpers for all the operatives on site, raising money for the Salvation Army charity.
  • A local homeless person was assisted by the workforce who paid for a return ticket home so that he could return to his family.
  • A public survey was conducted, with some participants choosing to identify themselves on the survey forms. All returns reported that they agreed that the contractor was considerate in his execution of the works.
  • The contractor reduced the width of the compound to prevent a pavement closure.
  • An internal ‘best practice champion’ was designated, carrying out extensive community involvement and school activities.
  • A school initiative safety presentation and safety sign design competition was also organised.
  • Goodwill gestures included replacement of noisy non Thames Water Authority (TWA) manhole covers in the road.
  • The major environment challenge on the project was Barhale controlling the environmental impact of creating noise levels higher than ambient level pre-works. In order to mitigate this inconvenience works were planned to ensure that, where possible, heavy noise-making activities were restricted to mid-morning.
  • Other measures included giving adequate briefings to operatives on the importance of noise mitigation, the use of acoustics tents and curtains and the use of silent running plant. Noise monitors were installed to monitor 24/7, and as a result only two complaints were received from members of the public.
  • Also the public received weekly updates on upcoming works. This showed that the noise mitigation was a success from a programme perspective, but more importantly from the perspective of impact caused to members of the public.
  • Vibration and noise meters were used, with noise reports forwarded to TWA and triggers within the system alerting the contractor.
  • Comprehensive notice boards contained information relating to surveys, procedures, targets, results and future preservation.
  • The Site Manager was part of the Energy Management Team which held Barhale countrywide meetings weekly; he altered the meeting format to telephone conferencing to save energy wasted by travelling distances to meetings. The group’s objective was to examine all environmental aspects of the company’s operations.
  • Environmental recording and reporting is comprehensive. The output of electrical generators – in relation to requirement- was examined in detail to enable more economic selection of equipment.
  • Barhale was in discussions with Crossrail to provide a carbon-neutral site through the purchase and planting of a forest.
  • Barhale now has ISO5001 energy accreditation and smart meters installed at sites to measure energy.
  • The Site Manager challenged procedures to test effectiveness and always worked as a driver to lift standards and improve best practice.
  • Barhale received an accreditation letter as a follow-up to the TWA Managing Director site visit which cited the level of safety at the site to be ‘exceptional’.
  • The workforce were provided with improved boots which gave better ankle and metatarsal protection, as well as gloves which provided protection against flash burns.
  • Different types of shovel were trialled and developed, led by Barhale’s health and safety department, in conjunction with Anglian Water at this site.
  • Just one incident occurred at the site – a gas bottle fire – and this was dealt with by a stringent emergency plan which demonstrated that planned procedures had been tested and worked. Letters were distributed to residents containing a full report of the incident to reassure them of the safety systems in place.
  • Weekly logs were maintained, relating to all activity on site, including any incident.
  • A proactive approach was taken towards safety and hazards and there was a weekly question and answer session relating to safety, with rewards made for the highest score.
  • The company has a buddy system in place to assist anyone with a language difficulty.
  • Alcohol and drug testing was carried out.
  • A ‘Job Chats’ initiative encouraged workforce communication at every level and there was encouragement and support to progress with the company.
  • Despite being located in the middle of a street, the site accommodation included a shower, secure storage, fridge signage and an effective cleaning regime.
  • Regular workforce appraisals were carried out and apprenticeships and work placements were offered.
  • Lifestyle and wellbeing information covered all the vital conditions likely to affect a modern workforce.
  • The company sought feedback through close working relationships forged with the workforce, and provided rewards for exceptional working practices.
  • The company treated the workforce to a Thames cruise social evening with hotel and accommodation provided and a Christmas dinner, as goodwill gestures.

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