01 Organisatorische aspecten
 >  Environmental safety
Discussion > Discuss this with your colleagues!

Discuss the following topics with each other:

  1. How do you handle this problem in your working environment?
  2. Did you know that there are laws and regulations that apply to this situation?
  3. How did you find out about this?
Figure 1: Environmental safety; highly divergent elements that we must take into consideration!
Introduction – environmental safety

Environmental factors can have a major impact on safety during construction, management/maintenance or use. By providing due consideration to existing environmental factors during the Design Phase, risks can be eliminated or mitigated at an early stage.

There are many environmental factors you may encounter when preparing a design. This incudes things such as:

  • Aboveground and underground cables and pipelines; 
  • Water safety (water control structures, water quantity and quality);
  • Soil contamination;
  • Environmental protection areas (groundwater, soil contamination, landscape); 
  • Safety zones around airports, radar installations, military objects and objects that are of national security/safety interest;
  • External safety of companies, industrial premises and the transport of hazardous substances, or rail and other infrastructure; 
  • Stakeholder requirements.

Preventing and limiting these areas of overlap begins during the design process.

Risks > What can happen?

The risks resulting from environmental factors are of a diverse nature: 

  • Injury due to contact with cables or damage/explosion; 
  • Evacuation of the surroundings (gas and hazardous substances); 
  • Breach of a water control structure resulting in a flood or water damage;
  • Disruption of fauna habitat or killing fauna; 
  • Injury due to contact with soil contamination; 
  • Endangering the environment (incidents and disasters).

When insufficient consideration is given to these risks during the Design Phase, there is a chance that additional (costly) measures will be required later on.

Measures > What you must do

Preventing or mitigating risks resulting from existing environmental factors during your design process starts off with a comprehensive environmental analysis. The following environmental factors are part of this process. The environmental analysis is generally carried out by a specialist. On the basis of this analysis you can then acquire additional information about the existence of such areas of overlap and risks from various disciplines and experts. Not all environmental factors necessarily form part of every project. The most commonly occurring environmental factors are described below.

Cables and pipelines
Given the limited space available in the Netherlands, the presence of cables and pipelines is a given. Chances are high that there is overlap with cables and pipelines. Depending on the type of cable or pipeline there are risks, such as electrocution, explosion, flooding, etc.
Insight into the presence of cables and pipelines can be obtained on the basis of an excavation report (report to the KLIC [cable and pipeline information centre]). Heijmans, as well as the applicable laws and regulations, require an excavation permit to be requested. During the design process you must assess whether the presence of cables and pipelines affects the end result of your design and whether it constrains the method of implementation. The design can have an impact on key cables and pipelines that goes far beyond the design’s boundaries. A decision to relocate or protect a cable or pipeline must be made in consultation with its owner. By incorporating the need for clear cable and pipeline routing, together with sufficient space, in the design of the final situation, any risk of damage and potential injury can be limited. Protecting cables and pipelines so as to avoid rerouting them not always is the best solution with regard to safety during implementation or maintenance. Cables and pipelines that stay where they are in the system to be designed can become damaged as a result of the management and maintenance of the system and can also become difficult to maintain, which in turn results in other safety risks. 

Figure 2: Hazardous cable & pipeline situations; rerouting is sometimes safer

Constraints during implementation, such as working below or above high voltage transmission lines, can be reduced in the design of civil or utility structures by choosing suitable foundation methods. In road design, this can be relevant in relation to and hoisting sewer pits. The design must also take the impact of temporary effects into account, such as subsidence and vibration caused by the work required as a result of a design decision.