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Mon July 22 2024

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Everton seat drillers remove hand-arm vibration risk

24 Oct 23 The last structural steel roof member has been lifted in and the seating is now being installed at the new Everton football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock.

Seats are being installed at a rate of 500 a day
Seats are being installed at a rate of 500 a day

“This week is a real milestone for the project,” said Steve Farden, structural steel lead for main contractor Laing O’Rourke.

The final rafter tip has been installed at the south end of the east stand, 11 months after the first piece of roofing steelwork was installed and just 18 months since the first steel column was erected on site.

Work will now accelerate to add the final coverings to the roof, which is already close to completion on the north stand.

And fitting the seats has seen the development of an innovation to combat hand-arm vibration risks

According to club owner Farhad Moshiri, stadium costs have escalated from an initial budget of £500m to £760m. There has also been some slippage; the original August 2024 completion date has become the end of 2024, with the timing of a move from Goodison Park still to be determined.

However, the first seat installations have now brought a splash of blue to Everton Stadium.

The milestone moment came last week less than 24 hours after the final piece of steelwork was hoisted into place to complete the roofing structure.

The first permanent rows of blue plastic seats – which follow previous tests to assess rail seating – have been fitted in the north east corner to kick-start the next phase of the bowl development, which will see 52,888 seats positioned over the coming six months.

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The installations come following detailed work that included bolting supportive handrails to the concrete terracing and then installing a seat carrier system on each individual row, for the seats to sit upon.

Laing O’Rourke construction manager Paul Harvey said: “We have a lot of activities that have to knit together and a lot of risk involved, so all of that needs coordinating. Although the seal installs might look like a simple operation, there are 50,000 holes to drill and a lot of safety issues, with hand and arm vibration.

“Bluecube, who are installing the seats – and led by our engineered safety team – have come up a really good new method using new drill rigs and a suction system, and with some independent analysis it’s pretty much taken away the risks of hand-arm vibration and the dangers of dust inhalation, so that’s a massive move to a different level of safety.

He added: “The last seats will be installed around about Easter of next year. The biggest job is the drilling and in the upper tier, most of that has taken place, so that part of the stadium will change quite quickly now and hopefully, by Christmas, the whole upper tier will have blue seats in them.

“We can’t put the lower tier of terracing in until the roofing has finished, and with the final steelwork lift taking place yesterday, the bigger cranes are moving off site and we can start installing the lower tier. That should all be in place by December, at which point we can start drilling and getting the seats in.”

Scott Blyth, senior supervisor for Bluecube seating, added: “It’s a multi-stage process that’s ahead of us. We have to start with the handrails and once they are all fitted, we get the rails in and then ensure we can fit in the right number of seats per row. It’s also quite a logistical and physical challenge to get all of the seats up and down the stairs, and my job is making sure the progress runs correctly and that we are hitting our targets on time.

“With just-in-time deliveries, we are starting to look at two containers per week and each container holds 1,800 seats so that’s 3,600 seats per week getting delivered now, each week, until the end of the project.”

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