The tunnel environment is often busy with tools, equipment and vehicles.

Modern challenges in tunnel construction

Given the fast-paced nature of today's tunnel construction, it is inevitable that all stakeholders will have to place greater focus on safety and quality. As budgets and time constraints take hold, project managers are forced to schedule everyone from road headers, tunnel waterproofers and concreters in the same small space at the same time. 

In fact, trucks could be removing rock and spoil at the same time as workers are inserting rock support and Bluey is installing a waterproof membrane. If this cavern seems crowded, it is – and we haven't even mentioned the workers who could be pouring concrete behind that.

For those waterproofing the tunnel with Bluey membrane products, this situation can cause some safety and quality concerns that will need to be taken into consideration. Here are three examples:

1) Dusty conditions

With trucks taking rock and spoil away from the tunnel at all hours of the day, waterproofing membrane can become a difficult task because of the airborne particles such as silica dust and diesel particulates. In fact, workers might have to wear breathing apparatus while installing membrane when previously they didn't have to.

Depending on the length of the tunnel and location, the air quality problem could be better or worse. This means project management staff will need to ensure equipment is on hand to protect workers in all cases. This safety equipment will always reduce worker mobility and increase fatigue which in itself presents additional challenges.

2) Delivery of membrane 

In a similar vein to the previous point, the excavation trucks removing rock and spoil out of the tunnel can also cause logistical problems for waterproofers. There are already a lot of equipment, tools and vehicles in any tunnel situation without the prospect of membrane deliveries.

As such, a sense of coordination has to be created to ensure your products are delivered on time and to ensure your team isn't waiting for the backlog of tunnel traffic to dissipate.

3) Membrane damage

As tunnel liners are welded to form the waterproof membrane, it is difficult to protect for some time before the surrounding infrastructure is completed. 

This means it is often at the mercy of busy trucks and other vehicles around the tunnel. If a piece of moving equipment was to hit the membrane, it could cause serious damage to the sheeting and will need to be fixed. waterproofing. The cost and time taken to complete this repair is one issue; however, more concerning is the situation where the damage is not identified and may cause long-term leakage.

To avoid this situation, waterproofers must keep a close eye on the membrane and ensure the area is well secured to prevent costly and unidentified damage. Meanwhile, tunnel constructors should fully consider the overall benefit of separating the activities of different trades in this confined environment.

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