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Steps to Smart Safety at Northconnex

Northconnex is a new tunnel project that upon completion will link the M1 Pacific motorway at Wahroonga with the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills, taking the traffic-volume strain from the very busy Pennant Hills Road and Cumberland Highway.

As part of deep excavation works, a lot of shotcreting is required, as the most effective solution for reinforcing tunnel entrance walls and the like. And at one site, concreting for capping a beam was required. The challenge presented by such large pits is worker access during shotcrete application. After an internal safety audits, things like normal ladders were found to be not tall enough. And even if they are, stability at that length is almost impossible to achieve. To gain access up and down the shotcrete batter, cutting stairs into the batter itself was also written off as an idea because of the need to respray the shotcrete – a time and money-drainer for both Lendlease from a project management point of view, and for Bouygues for construction time. An additional operator and their machine would also have been required to carry it out.

The simple yet ingenious solution was with Sydney portable height access supplier SafeSmart Access, and their adjustable Portable Stairs product. After having provided similar solution to Lendlease before, SafeSmart liaised with Dáil Loughran from Bouygues, via Lendlease, to assess the product’s suitability and put it into commissioning.

These Portable Stairs come in different standard heights and step-counts from SafeSmart, and suit batter access perfectly. Due to the product’s self-levelling treads, the unit can accommodate many different gradients that different batters present. Add to this, an adjustability of total height 1.2-1.8m means that they can be used on other projects for cost economy. They are made in New Zealand from marine grade aluminium and feature a 150kg rating, surpassing compliance requirements for AS/NZS 1576 : 2010.

Since the stairs were deployed, Bouygues’ Dáil Loughran has noticed a significant increase in productivity on jobs like this one across other points in the Northconnex project, now that site teams and subcontractors can enter and exit the excavation faster and more safely. Want to see the suitability of this product for your project? Read more here or contact SafeSmart Access now, for delivery anywhere in Australia and beyond. We also ship from our scaffolding facility in New Zealand to anywhere in NZ and the Pacific region.