Implementing Safety Concepts for road tunnels

Implementing Safety Concepts for road tunnels
In a Norwegian study, road tunnel experts and fire experts in the general building and construction industry have looked into how to improve requirements, principles, process and method for safety management in tunnel projects by transferring important safety management principles, services and best practices from a well-developed construction industry.
In this work, a Tunnel Safety Concept (TSC) has been developed for safety management of road tunnels, where the experts has used important experiences from the building and construction industry, together with knowledge and experience from management, operation, maintenance of road tunnels in Norway.

The goal of the work has been to assist road owners to apply best practices from other industries and to challenge safety-related tasks in safety management as well as provide guidance for following up the safety concept for road tunnels. Where requirements, principles, process and method for preparation of safety concept / safety strategy, control of design and construction phase have been emphasized in this development project.
Safety management of road tunnels in the operational phase have also been studied and new improved processes and methods has been made. 

The project has been based on the construction industry's requirements for documentation where:

"Responsible design and responsible executives shall, within their area of ​​responsibility, submit to the responsible applicant the necessary documentation as a basis for how the commissioning, management, operation and maintenance of buildings, technical installations and facilities are to be performed satisfactorily."

Preparation of safety concept is a planning assignment that starts early, with preparation of a safety concept sketch, and this follows all phases from early planning to construction and handover to operation. This applies both to new tunnels and to tunnels in operation which has a need to be upgraded according to new requirements and new needs.

As a basis for the safety concept, a proper documentation is needed. Risk analysis, analysis of emergency prepardness, technical operational analysis and 1D/3D simulations of ventilation and evacuation are examples of such documentation. An analysis of Reliablilty, Availability, Maintainability, and Safety (RAMS) analysis is also preferred as a basis documentation for implementation of the Safety Concept in Tunnels. 

An overall assessment at an early stage should reduce risk in the investment project, ensure that design and design meet overall project objectives, and provide greater predictability for tunnel managers, builders, designers, executives and internal and external stakeholders such as Road Traffic Centre and fire departments. Furthermore, a safety concept could form the basis for considering various measures for cost optimization of both investment, operation, maintenance and future improvements and rehabilitations.

In every major tunnel fire incident, we have identified factors that have not been taken into account and that have affected the outcome of the incident. With the right approach to the challenges, in a better way, we can identify challenges and set mitigation measures, already in early planning.

In the construction industry there are requirements for public approval and commissioning within, inter alia, independent control of fire safety buildings and in fire concept design for buildings. Perhaps this is a good way to ensure the necessary competance in implementing Tunnel Safety Concepts (TSC) in this vulnerable part of the infrastructure.

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