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How HS2 is keeping people safe, healthy and well on Europe’s largest infrastructure project

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Peter McGettrick, British Safety Council Chairman, was given a tour of one of HS2’s biggest sites and heard how it is going about making sure people stay safe, healthy and well even on this massive project.


Hosted by HS2’s Client Director of Stations Huw Edwards and Ros Seal, Head of Health and Safety for Stations, Peter saw progress being made on Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, at its Old Oak Common site in Northwest London.

Peter McGettrick is briefed by Huw Edwards on progress being made on Old Oak Common site.

When the UK’s next high speed rail line opens, Old Oak Common will be one of the country’s busiest railway stations, serving the Midlands, Scotland and the North, and providing access to central London and Heathrow via the Elizabeth Line, GWR trains to the West and Wales, as well as London’s Overground services.

Building the UK’s largest ever new rail station is no mean feat, and Peter saw some of the innovations being used by HS2 there. These include a lengthy conveyor belt system to take spoil away for use on other reclaimed sites around the country, meaning around 400 fewer trucks should be using the local roads every day. Old Oak Common will also house four of the five electric-powered cranes in Europe, reducing emissions generated on site and helping meet the project’s net zero target.

A view of the Old Oak Common site, including the innovative conveyor belt system.

With around 20,000 people currently employed of an eventual 34,000, ensuring all people stay safe, healthy and well is a top priority for the project. Peter heard about progress made on HS2’s ‘Safe at Heart’ programme over the past five years, on seven focus areas and 21 commitments around occupational health, safety, and wellbeing.

Ros Seal said: “HS2 has committed to deliver the UK’s safest and healthiest ever mega-project for the benefit of our workforce, the communities where we work, our future passengers and wider industry. Our health and safety strategy is a living strategy, the aspirations and foundations will remain constant but we will adapt and evolve it as we learn and grow.”

HS2 has put in place a number of working groups which lead and co-ordinate health, safety and wellbeing across its supply chain. Keen to demonstrate its commitment to people living along the route of the railway, it currently has over 200 projects with local communities, and is planting over 7 million trees and bushes.

(Left to right) Huw Edwards, Ros Seal and Peter McGettrick on the viewing platform at Old Oak Common.

Huw Edwards said: “Old Oak Common is just one of our major engineering and construction sites, we’re also building the UK’s largest railway viaduct in the Colne Valley not far from here. But this site is special in its scale, complexity and the challenges it presents. That’s why I am working closely with the community living here to ensure that people see we are on their side and ultimately understand the benefits we will eventually deliver.”

Commenting on his visit, Peter McGettrick said: “Coming to Old Oak Common underlines to me the sheer size and scale of HS2, how it will change the way we travel in the UK and the precision required in planning and delivering it. We all thought the Olympics was impressive, this blows that out of the water. Which is why the work HS2 is doing to keep people safe, make sure they remain healthy and monitor how well they are during the lifetime of the project is so important. We look forward to hearing more about the progress of this vital work and seeing how it develops over the coming years.”

HS2 and health and safety: www.hs2.org.uk/about-us/our-approach-to-health-and-safety/health-and-wellbeing-of-our-workforce

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