During works to form the Eastern Access for the New Green Quarter Development the project team have been using the AIR-VAC II, remote controlled mini vacuum excavator, which has proven effective in safely exposing charted and uncharted services throughout the works.
This has been invaluable, and the outputs have been comparable with more traditional excavation techniques. The works involve the remodelling of an existing road junction, which is dense with live services, and the need for hand excavation has been greatly reduced. The ground is heavily congested with LV/HV cables, water pipes, MP/HP gas mains and critical communications.
The location of many of these services were inaccurately mapped or simply unknown and this made excavation extremely hazardous if appropriate care was not taken. The Air-Vac has been designed to be compact, manoeuvrable, easily towed and can be operated following a short training exercise.
The contractor have now invested in a fleet of these machines and have reviewed and enhanced their safe excavation procedures to mandate use as the primary solution in the hierarchy of control. The teams have been trained in how to operate them and these are now being utilised across the company to improve the safety and efficiency of the front-line operatives.
The company have long seen working around live services as one of the biggest risks to the workforce and have noticed an upward trend in associated close calls over recent years. The desire is that this new technology, along with a new improved procedure and flame arc clothing, will generate a reversal in this trend and assist in the overall safety performance of the organisation.
The company SHEQ&T Director said:
“The risk of injury, incidents and disruption caused by damage to underground services is an ever present threat on our sites and as such, Dyer & Butler have invested heavily to upgrade our working processes, training and equipment to ensure that our approach to working in these environments is not only safe, but innovative. The use of the mini vac-ex machines has been a game changer in the delivery of safe excavation work as it allows our excavation teams to excavate carefully, considerately and effectively amongst high risk services. We believe that the use of these machines, coupled with our experience and knowledge of how to excavate safely around underground services provides Dyer & Butler with a unique advantage in the delivery of complex civil engineering schemes.”