I drive through the gates and arrive at the site office. The best thing about an early morning is catching the sunrise and I can usually spot a few hot air balloons flying over Melbourne when I arrive at work. My team is responsible for the independent review of a major infrastructure project in Melbourne – part of Victoria’s Big Build. I am based in the zone which is constructing Earth Pressure Balance Machine (EPBM) driven twin 15.1m ID bored tunnels from large portal box structures. These will be the largest fibre reinforced segmentally lined tunnels in the southern hemisphere. In the morning, I check my emails with a cup of coffee, making sure to read through any safety incidents from the previous day. My team has a chat about what we must cover over the day, including documentation reviews, quality, environmental and safety inspections and any meetings.
Prior to going on the construction site, I must wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes a high vis top, steel capped boots, helmet, and safety glasses. I read and sign-on to the pre-start sheets and walk or drive around the various tunnel portal sites performing surveillance on work progression, accessing environmental controls and highlighting health and safety hazards. I speak with the constructor about their current and planned works and log my surveillance reports on an iPad app. Examples of different works I see day to day are various types of piling, ground anchor drilling and stressing, rock bolt drilling and grouting, shotcrete retaining walls, steel fixing, in-situ concrete pours, waterproof membrane installation, crane lifts for precast decks and planks, bulk excavation, tunnel boring machine (TBM) commissioning and pipe jacking.
I’m back to my desk, which is in a temporary Portacom construction office, separate from the constructor. I look through the drawings of upcoming work packages via the Aconex document management system, used by the project. There is a shear key detail in a portal mass reinforced concrete base slab which looks like it could pose some constructability difficulties. I discuss with my team how it could best be done – there are various sequences and options. Many people in my team have significant experience in constructing major projects all around the world, working for contractors, consultants and client organisations. We share ideas and they tell me about previous construction methods they have used, problems faced and solutions adopted.
Lunchtime. There is a local Italian deli only a short drive away. My teammate and I like to go there to get a cheap and delicious roll.
After lunch, I go back to the site office and write my reports of the surveillance conducted previously checking compliance against Vic Roads, designer specifications and drawings. If there are any compliance issues not resolved at site, I contact the constructor and discuss what is required to close out or elevate the issue. I also have construction documentation to review. I read through the constructors’ documents and check for any areas where the standards or project’s environmental requirements are not met and highlight safety or quality issues. Important aspects to consider include whether Hold and Witness Points have been correctly identified, work staging reflects the sequence assumed by the designer and checking the construction risk assessment to confirm that the constructor has correctly planned and understood inherent hazards associated with the works.
I have a Witness Point to attend for a capping beam pre-pour. The senior surveillance officer, from my team, and I attend this inspection with the Nominated Authority, who works for the constructor and certifies the quality of the works. Before concrete is poured, we check that the tied reinforcement interfaces correctly with the pile caps and matches the drawing details, that the correct cover to the reinforcement is provided and there is not too much steel congestion to prevent vibration which would impact on the quality of the concrete. Formwork bracing must be inspected and structurally approved, and the pour must be clean from foreign material – for larger pours there are earthing and bonding details to check and a requirement to use thermocouples. We both sign off the constructor’s Inspection and Test Plan if the works are conforming and the pour can commence.
Now I have a meeting online with the WSP Young Professionals group – Pathways. We help to provide growth, learning, development and networking opportunities for all staff across Australia with up to ten years of professional experience. This year I am the Melbourne Office Co-Lead. This role involves coordinating a committee to plan and organise the events as well as managing the Pathways budget, tracking costs and reporting against forecast. The next event we are planning is a lunchtime session where two young professionals from WSP present on their role within their team, their projects and common challenges they face. As well as being an opportunity for people to practise public speaking, and share technical and project management knowledge this will help encourage intercompany networking.
Time to go home. It takes me roughly one hour to drive home but I like to listen to podcasts, music or call my friends (on hands-free). I still have plenty daylight left to catch up with friends for dinner or walk around the park nearby for some exercise.
In my spare time, I like to plan weekend trips or holidays. I love to travel and explore new places. What I like about my job is that there are opportunities to work on projects all around Australia and the world. WSP also have a Global Exchange program where a selected group of people travel to an office overseas to share knowledge and ideas for roughly one month.
I’d like to say I read a book but I usually watch some Netflix and have a scroll on social media. After this, it is time for sleep.