Safety, Health & Wellbeing

A personal approach towards delivering excellent safety performance at Bermondsey Dive Under

The works at Bermondsey Dive Under (BDU) required the execution of a major civil engineering project near the operational railway. This case study looks at contractor Skanska’s behavioural safety achievements, occupational health achievements and key learnings from the £75 million project.

Taking learning from the Borough Viaduct project, the ambition for the BDU team was to go above and beyond the behavioural safety delivered by Skanska’s Injury Free Environment (IFE) safety programme. Skanska wanted people to come to the site and feel like part of a family, making long lasting friendships. This would enable people to look out for one another and ensure everyone went home safe, every day, healthy and inspired.

Skanska and Network Rail’s personal approach to safety delivered excellent safety performance across the project. An early major accident in 2012 was learned from, and Skanska supported industry wide change as a result. Following this, 870,000 injury free hours were worked without any major accident on site.

Behavioural safety

The journey to an IFE on the BDU project started with an orientation. This focussed on the importance of relationships and included a briefing from senior managers on why safety was personally important to them. Team members then wrote their own safety pledge as to why they wanted to return home safe, every day. The pledges were displayed on the walls of project offices, acting as a gentle ongoing reminder.

A representative from each supplier formed the IFE Site Leadership Team, who were the conduit for turning ideas and issues into actions to improve the working environment. The personal principle led to “Making a Difference” recognition awards, where any team member could be nominated for any action that has made a difference to a colleague. On average, 15 individuals were recognised each month from a team of around 100. Recognition was also given for innovative ideas such as using Nevosafe strips.

Occupational health

A key driver was for people to leave the BDU site healthier and happier than they came, with a focus on mental and occupational health. The project had mental health ambassadors on site who had undertaken specific training allowing them to fulfil this role. The training enabled the ambassadors to identify the discrimination surrounding mental health problems. It also helped them to relate to people’s experiences and to assist people in need.

The project also operated a health check programme that was open to all. A monthly Health Kiosk visited the site, where technicians carried out BMI, cholesterol, lung function and noise assessments. Advice and briefings on current health topics were also offered.

Finally, the project undertook prostate screening testing bi-annually, which can and did provide early diagnosis. Eighty percent of BDU site staff took advantage of this, resulting in two individuals with pre-cancerous signs receiving nonintrusive preventative treatment.


Learning was taken from an early accident in construction which has since led to industry-wide change in the use of hand-operated petrol saws. In November 2012 a team member of the Skanska workforce at the BDU suffered serious burns whilst using a petrol driven cut off saw. A joint Skanska and Network Rail investigation established that the primary cause of the accident was the petrol cap on the saw not being fitted correctly. However, when looking into the wider issued around competency to use the equipment, there seemed to be a big gap in the training provision within the industry. Skanska ensured one of the recommendations of the report was to lobby the industry to rectify this.

Fourteen months after the completion of the investigation, a pilot of the new accredited training took place on the use. The course focused on the maintenance and risk associated with the cut off saw. Between the accident and delivery of the pilot course, Skanska worked in partnership with manufactures STIHL and Cskills Awards to produce the course for what is one of the most widely used handheld power tools in the construction industry. Network Rail and Thameslink Programme supported the initiative from inception through to delivery. The course was subsequently mandated across all of the Thameslink Programme.

Safety learning at BDU can be summarised as:

  • An injury free environment is achievable
  • If someone makes a mistake, we should work with them to prevent a re-occurrence
  • Engagement is key
  • Small things contribute to the bigger picture
  • Thank you goes a long way.

Further information

For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email