Estimated to be the biggest construction site in Europe in 2018-19, the new nuclear power plant in Hinkley Point, Somerset is the first of a new generation of low-carbon facilities in the UK.
With the building of two new reactors within a strict deadline, joint venture contactors KierBam (Kier Construction and Bam Construction) and Bylor (Bouygues Construction and Laing O’Rourke) have hundreds of trucks and plant equipment on the go at the site constantly; they are working alongside many other companies, with the view to avoiding blowing out the project’s budget, which already stands at a hefty £20bn. On this site, of course, time is money.
Central to construction productivity is also the condition of construction equipment. In a project like this, many people are employed to maintain machinery fleets on a full-time basis. With the temporary nature of a worksite, however, gaining access to equipment during maintenance and cleaning can be a dangerous prospect, especially in wet of icy conditions; there is no permanent docking or other forms of height access infrastructure.
With falls from height being the major cause of death and injury and work downtime in the UK, both joint ventures were adamant about making the site as safe and efficient as possible for their mechanical contractors. Add to this, the need for temporary access to trenches and lower-level heights. To solve their challenges, they sought the services of London-based work platform manufacturer SafeSmart Access.
Without needing to utilise their custom fabrication capabilities, SafeSmart already had products on their staple range that would help workers climb equipment safely. The joint ventures requested 70 units of SafeSmart’s portable stairs (AdjustaStairs) for trench and embankment access and several Super Maintenance Platforms for lorry access and plant equipment maintenance.
Now, with the suite of SafeSmart products on site, the joint ventures are seeing immediate results.
SafeSmart’s Stefan Gould is getting excellent feedback from the client.
“It’s a massive project and site,” says Stefan, “and we can already see that the portability of our products is benefiting the client. Workers are able to deploy a unit in minutes, and the standard and dangerous ladders are on the scrapheap.”
With SafeSmart’s AdjustaStairs, Stefan is also seeing more potential for the product’s use.
“It’s clients like this who challenge us to see our products in a different light. They were attracted to our AdjustaStairs portable stairs product but saw them on a more modular light; so together we developed the idea of a system of several stairs that can be joined together to extend their reach down embankments and the like. And then they can be broken up again to be used in several simultaneous locations.”
Works on the nuclear power plant are due for completion around mid-2020.
Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, Somerset
SafeSmart Making Hinkley Point Safer
Portable Stairs, Truck Edge Protection