Operations Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF)3 to address operational concerns of safety and security in underground structures. COSUF has developed risk assessment guidelines (Molag and Trijssenaar-Buhre, 2006) and, with an ITA working group on health and safety,4 focused on increasing safety practices during construction. The European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) acknowledges that safety and security must be designed into every element of infrastructure, including the interfaces between every element, with consideration of the entire life cycle of the infrastructure (ECTP, 2005).
It may be expected that safety in underground infrastructure will be equal to that of surface infrastructure, and if not, then the expectation may be that one is fully informed of potential risks. However, although engineers have been successful in reducing many types of risk associated with underground space use, risk in underground infrastructure has not received the same level of regulatory scrutiny as risk associated with surface infrastructure, and the levels of certain risks may not be well understood. Existing codes tend to be prescriptive in nature—prescribing specific procedures or materials—but underground space poses different safety challenges that codes intended for surface space were not designed to address. For example, most people know that simply leaving a building that is on fire is adequate to reach safety. Exiting a tall building during an emergency, for example, usually requires its occupants to climb down several flights of stairs rather than use elevators or escalators. However, leaving an underground structure on fire may only move occupants to a different underground space also contaminated by smoke, and occupants may have to exit up several flights of stairs—a physically challenging task for some. Hazards associated with elevators and escalators are partially addressed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators (ASME, 2010a) that covers design, construction, installation, operation, maintenance, alteration, inspection, and testing of elevators and escalators. Guidelines also provide information on how Department of Justice requirements related to the Americans with Disabilities Act will be met by the performance of elevators or escalators (ASME, 2010b).
Safety sometimes needs to be created operationally rather than through technical solutions (e.g., no hazardous materials unless appropriate sprinkler or other systems are in place). Safety codes are most often written in response to lessons learned from incidents or litigation rather than in response to research. A responsible risk management strategy includes identifying and understanding
4 For example, the Health and Safety in Works working group of the International Tunneling Association has released multiple publications related to safe working practices (see ITA-AITES, 2011).