The Sypol consultancy has been providing health, safety management and occupational hygiene and environment services for 24 years in the UK and across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In recent years we have been working in partnership with Liberty Mutual, as their preferred supplier of these services across the EMEA Region. Specialising in major projects, one of our particular focus sectors has been construction, and we were appointed to act as occupational health advisors to the Heathrow Terminal 5 Project in 2001 while it was still being planned (physical works on elements of the project began in 2002). There is no tradition in the UK of the appointment of professional health and safety advisers to address occupational health issues, and in many ways this reflected an understanding of the need to bring professional safety management techniques to bear on the health aspects of the project. This paper discusses the strategic nature of the work, seeking to reduce occupational health problems in construction at source, by designing out exposures.
Even before the commencement of work on a major new Terminal at Heathrow Airport, BAA the airport operator was one of Europe's major clients of construction. Building and maintenance work is a permanent feature of airports, and the progressive increase in air travel over the years has encouraged existing airports and new ones to be extended and built. The new project is, however, on a different scale with a very large site designated to encompass not only a new terminal with a capacity of 30m passengers/year, but also a road tunnel to connect it to the pre-existing terminal areas, extensions to railway lines, a river diversion, changes to adjacent road layouts and other associated infrastructure developments. At the peak of the planned works it is anticipated that approximately 5,000 workers will be engaged in the project.
Such a project would normally create its own complex working environment, but this is further complicated by its location within an active airport, interfacing with a busy road network, operating railways and adjacent to a residential community. The planning required to ensure that such a project can be undertaken at all, achieving compliance with the standards required for legal consents, is obviously extensive. The health and safety arrangements needed to be equally addressed in detail, to meet the legal obligations imposed upon such works in Europe.
In 1992 the European Union adopted a Directive, effectively a "Federal Regulation" which each member country had to translate into local, national regulations, addressing the management of health and safety in construction. In the UK the Temporary and Mobile Worksites Directive became the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 1994 - known universally by its acronym CDM.