Health and safety at Crossrail: A lasting legacy

Posted: 2 August 2018 | | No comments yet

When presented with the prospect of implementing a health and safety strategy for a major project such as Crossrail, where do you start? Delivering the resultant Elizabeth line – due to open in December 2018 – entailed the construction of a new railway that stretches more than 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east; building new tunnels and stations below the busy crowded streets of the UK’s capital. Ensuring the safety of all those working on this scale of civil engineering project is a monumental task, but one that Martin Brown, Health and Safety Director of Crossrail, tackled with great success. He spoke with Global Railway Review to explain how.


“We believe that everybody should go home safely and in good health at the end of a working day; nothing is more important than that,” begins Martin. “We began by making safety our number one core value, rather than a priority. Crossrail has five central values, but safety – which also includes ‘health’ in its scope – was a fundamental concept that ran through everything.” Martin explained that this negated the issue of questioning what the priority was at each stage of work; safety was always their first consideration.

Target Zero

Daily operations were underpinned by an approach that had been used on other projects, termed ‘Target Zero’ – the belief that a project can experience zero accidents.

The health and safety project translated Target Zero as a guiding principle that all harm is preventable; that all incidents – if you trace them back – can be prevented. Martin explained that a core part of their accident investigation activities was about continually testing that belief. “Generally speaking, when incidents have occurred, we see ways that they could have been prevented. We use these experiences as an opportunity to learn, because a key part of the project is to ensure that we learn and improve our practices along the way.”

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