All’s well in safety drill

You are in: Media CentreNews 2012


In a recent safety drill, an employee taken seriously ill while working in a confined space underground was brought safely to the surface in a little over 2 mins 30 seconds.

Jeanette Wright, QSHE co-ordinator for Team Van Oord, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, and the communities in which we work, is our utmost priority. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring that everyone goes home safe and well at the end of each working day.

“We strive to achieve an exemplary health and safety record and take a proactive approach to implementing best safety practice. We believe that communication is key to good health and safety performance.

“All of our employees and supply chain commit to the principles of Safety is Paramount, the Environment Agency’s SHE Code of Practice.”

In this particular drill, which took place at Bodmin in Cornwall, the ‘casualty’ experienced severe chest pains while working underground in a culvert. The drill can be adapted to cover a range of alternative scenarios in which an accident or illness strikes in challenging circumstances.

This particular scenario was selected because Team Van Oord is currently carrying out a package of culvert reconditioning works across Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, on behalf of the Environment Agency.  Much of the work is undertaken by confined space teams from within the culverts and a specialist in man-entry repair techniques, Matt Durbin Associates (MDA), has been appointed to carry out this work.

An air horn blown from within the culvert marked the beginning of the rescue operation. This is the standard method of raising the alarm when ordering an evacuation from a confined space.

The rescuer crawled 10 metres along the culvert until he reached the casualty, before grabbing his legs and dragging him to the culvert entrance. The casualty was then clipped to a hoist and winched to surface.

Once there, he was placed in a “W” position (sitting upright with knees brought to the chest), this being the appropriate first aid recovery position for someone potentially suffering a heart attack.

The entire duration of the rescue was 2 minutes 37 seconds.

In a similar drill earlier this year, Team Van Oord showcased its confined space rescue procedure to two local Fire Service crews when working in the town of St Blazey in Cornwall.

31 October 2012