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Risk ‘Thinking’ for Australian Tunnelling


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Author P Standish


A paper presenting an overview of legislative and best practice
approaches to the management of OHS&E and business risk for Australian
tunnelling operations. Best practice can be achieved in Australian tunnelling
through ‘risk awareness’ by decision-makers and line personnel. This will
identify problems before they occur and lead to implementing controls
appropriate to avoiding loss throughout the life cycle of the underground

The author draws on legislative approaches from all Australian
states together with practical experience from risk management and risk
engineering work from six recent tunnelling projects. This describes a process

  • commences with concept risk assessment,
  • involves quantification of major hazards,
  • conducts assessments of operating risks, and
  • leads to implementation of an integrated management system
    that keeps construction activities connected with the controls identified in the
    design and planning phases and minimises the losses sustained as a result.

Key points addressed include:

  • where the industry is going with respect to risk – methods and

  • how tunnelling risks are perceived by the industry and

  • how tunnel constructors and owners can minimise exposure by
    using proper risk engineering ‘tools’, and

  • reflections on best practice methods for transferring
    knowledge from designers to contractors/operators.