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Crossrail air quality probe gives ‘all clear’

Unite awaits full report after four workers’ deaths

18 October, 2019 — By Tom Foot

AN air quality investigation launched by Crossrail chiefs following deaths of four construction workers has found “no issue of concern”, the project’s managers said this week.

Crossrail Ltd and contractor Costain Skanska Joint Venture issued an update after Unite chiefs ordered members to down tools on the Bond Street section of the delayed railway last week.

Unite, the country’s biggest construction union, made the decision after two workers – both are believed to be in their 50s – died “in their sleep” at home a fortnight ago.

Two other workers had died in similar circumstances earlier in the year.

Health and safety director at Crossrail Ltd Carole Bardell-Wise said: “Independent air quality monitoring has confirmed that Bond Street remains a safe environment. The issue of air quality is taken very seriously by everyone in the construction industry.”

Crossrail Ltd, the company in charge of the delayed scheme, said “an extensive independent air quality survey” had found all dust, oxygen and air movement readings are currently “within required limits”.

Readings for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen monoxide levels, during day- and night-shift hours, were “well below the documented work exposure limits”, it added.

Unite said it would not comment on the findings until a parallel investigation is complete.

Crossrail is looking specifically at how, on October 8, dust was able to get into a tunnel fan that was supposed to be ventilating the Bond Street work site.

Crossrail said its team had “responded immediately and effectively, moving people away from the affected area” after discovering the problem but that investigation into the impact was “ongoing”.

Unite said it would be “premature to comment further at this stage” until it had seen Crossrail’s full report.

Regional officer Guy Langston warned last week that workers at Bond Street had held “genuine concerns about air quality levels for months”, and also accused the Costain Skanska JV of “union-busting” for denying reps access to the site.

Andrew Mooney, project director at Costain Skanska JV, said: “The results of the monitoring tests are below the HSE threshold values and do not reveal anything concerning or unexpected. This situation has been discussed with the Health and Safety Executive, which was reassured by our response and is satisfied with the ongoing arrangements with regard to air quality.”

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