Managing tunnel construction risks

intergrating knowledge for managing risk in infrastructure projects: The case of tunnel works

Author: Ibsen Chivatá Cárdenas

Clearly, tunnel construction risks are the consequences of interactions between site- and project- specific factors. In the ground many features can affect and compromise the stability of a tunnel, for instance, by undesirable interactions between the excavation process and remains, unexpected features in the ground, buried works, and infrastructure on the surface. Overlooking those risk factors interactions can lead to undesirable consequences such as injuries or loss of life, damage to third parties, additional costs, and delays in completion of the tunnel project. To prevent this happening, the use of procedures and tools that systematically manage risk-related knowledge (prior knowledge) is highly desirable and will decrease the likelihood that those interactions are overlooked.

The use of risk models that comprehensively integrate risk-related knowledge can prevent failure scenarios not being taken into account. Further, to enable decision-making about risks, risk models can facilitate the analysis of identifying relevant failure modes and disclosing possible opportunities to avoid or mitigate the occurrence of risks. Insofar as risk models inform about interactions among risk factors, conditions, and potential critical failure events, they seem to be an alternative to the limited functionality of the databases or repositories usually employed in the construction industry. Such models might provide relevant information to support risk management by enabling professionals to share their knowledge and allowing others to make use of it. Unfortunately, risk models that include these types of features are not yet applied for tunnel works. Moreover, models that comprehensively make the interrelationships between risk factors and failure events explicit are absent from the literature on tunnel works. Read more >

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