Special PPE required during hydro-demolition at Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction
Flying debris that travels faster than a bullet is just one of the hazards facing Highways England repair teams working on Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction.
As part of the £4.7m vital repairs to damaged concrete and waterproofing, Highways England is using high-performance jet washers that break up parts of existing concrete. The technique is known as hydro-demolition.
“Safety is always our top priority so our repair crews are wearing special body suits to protect them from flying debris which when it breaks off, can actually travel faster than a bullet,” explains Highways England project manager Jessica Kenny.
“In fact, the water is so highly pressurised that operatives have to lean forward to about 45 degrees to counter the effects of the water jetting otherwise it would knock them off their feet.
“To put it into context, if you imagine the pressure washers that you use to clean the patio at home and multiply that by about ten times, you’re still not even close to the water pressure we’re using in this instance to complete this vital work.”
As well as wearing the protective suits, those operating the machinery also need to work inside a special green cage, which is designed to contain flying debris to a confined space.
Last weekend saw more than 356 people and 100 vehicles work on the 45-year-old structure that carries more than 220,000 vehicles a day.