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COMBISAFEíS Safety Measures On The Right Track At Blackfriars Station

The redevelopment of Londonís Blackfriars Station represents one of the most challenging civil engineering projects of the last decade with the project team faced with the logistical challenges of being on a city centre bridge spanning a major river and featuring live railway lines and four busy lanes of road. With the safety of the large number of site operatives plus pedestrians and river users a priority throughout the project, leading safety at height solution provider, Combisafe International was called upon.

On track to becoming one of Network Railís flagship stations and a new London landmark, the new £350 million Blackfriars Station, once completed, will be the first railway station to span the River Thames. A vital part of the £5.5 billion government funded Thameslink programme, the project is being delivered by lead contractor Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering.

For a construction and engineering project on this massive scale, Combisafe have provided a range of innovative solutions to tackle the different site safety challenges. This included their Safety Net Fan and their Steel Mesh Barrier system, with the latter proving to be such a versatile edge protection solution that it has been specified by three separate contractors on the project.

Combisafe has supplied 184 units of its lightweight and versatile Steel Mesh Barrier to Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering. The forerunner in edge protection for over a decade, this temporary fall prevention system is being used for edge protection along the trackside with blue barriers being specified to comply with rail regulations. There are also the logistical challenges of bringing materials in and out of this congested site which resulted in Balfour Beatty leasing a number of barges which have red Steel Mesh Barriers fixed to the sides to enable the safe loading and unloading of supplies and equipment.

íCombisafe have worked closely with us throughout the project to ensure we have robust equipment in place to provide edge protection to our access systems and for versatile temporary staircases between levels during construction,í said Dan MacFarlane, Balfour Beatty Construction Director for the Blackfriars project.

Available in two standard lengths 2.6 metres and 1.3 metres, the Steel Mesh Barrier is essentially guardrail, toeboard and steel mesh rolled into one and has the added benefit of being able to span trades, accommodating their different edge protection needs at different phases of the construction project.

Extending the station from the north side of the Thames over the bridge meant that a new station for the underground is being built along with a new station on the south side. The bridge deck has to be replaced, new track laid and the enhancement of the station building will include a new roof of glazed roof lights and partial height glazed side panels being constructed across the entire length of the bridge.

To provide protection during the construction of the station, approved Combisafe installation specialist Safety Net Services has provided 33 Steel Mesh Barriers. Attached to the steel frame of the new building they provide edge protection and debris containment protecting workers at height and on the trackside. The constrained site also means that all equipment has to be craned up to rail level from floating barges and the barriers installed using rail mounted cherry pickers.

Offering protection for the river traffic below, 18 units of the Combisafe Safety Net Fan were specified across the central arch of the bridge. With a projection of 3 metres, the Safety Net Fan is tested to comply with EN1263 and will absorb falls from up to 6 metres. The mesh density of the fall arrest net is 60 x 60mm and is delivered laced together with an extra fine 20 x 20mm debris net as standard. The combined net is able to catch and contain considerably smaller particles of debris and therefore offers complete protection to the river traffic.

Elsewhere, the Steel Mesh Barrier is proving to be the ideal safety solution for civil engineering sub contractor Kilnbridge who require edge protection during the construction of the new reinforced concrete box structure for the South Station.

For more than two decades, Combisafe International has set the standard in safety at height technology, delivering preventative and protective systems for the construction industry. The Steel Mesh Barrier and Safety Net Fan sit perfectly with the company ethos of designing solutions that eliminate or minimise the risk of working at height.

Designed by Jacobs Engineering and Tony Gee and Partners, the new station will tackle overcrowding by being able to accommodate 12 car trains at double the frequency currently possible and is set to be completed in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. When complete, it will feature a roof over the entire platform length and a new entrance on the South Bank, providing better access to the Tate Modern and the surrounding area.

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