BSI calls for input to develop a revision to BS 6164:2011 Code of practice for health and safety in tunnelling in the construction industry

26 February 2019

A revision to the existing Code of practice for health and safety in tunnelling in the construction industry, BS 6164:2019, is now open for public consultation until 25 April 2019. Views are being sought from industry practitioners, health and safety specialists, tunnel clients and insurers.  Comments can be submitted online at:

The previous revision to BS 6164 was published in 2011 and since then, advances in technology and equipment have been made available to the tunnelling industry.  Also, new techniques and the effect of changes in legislation and guidance relating to health and safety and environmental matters all have necessitated a revision to this much used standard.  The text has been extensively updated by a range of technical experts to reflect the latest best practice in tunnelling projects and addresses the health and safety of both those engaged in the tunnelling process and those who could be affected by it.

This British Standard makes recommendations for and gives guidance on health and safety practices in shaft sinking and tunnel construction.  The standard includes health and safety recommendations that are also relevant to cut-and-cover tunnelling, immersed tube tunnels and other forms of underground construction as well as to the construction aspects of maintenance, renovation and repair of shafts and tunnels.

This is a comprehensive revision and update to this standard which introduces numerous changes including the following:

  • references to the International Tunnelling Association guidelines for refuge chambers in tunnelling;
  • formal procedures for design checking including the resolution of differences between a designer and a design checker;
  • Clauses 23 and 24 have been extensively restructured and extended in particular in respect of fire, mobile elevating work platforms, use of plant underground and rail operations;
  • recommendations for undertaking high pressure compressed air exposures;
  • material on sprayed concrete lining and exclusion zones;
  • real time dust monitoring.

The recommendations in BS 6164 are not intended to apply to the construction of shafts or tunnels for the purpose of mineral extraction. 

The safety of tunnelling machinery including tunnel boring machines and pipejacking rigs is covered by BS EN 16191:2014 Tunnelling machinery - Safety requirements.


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