Compressed Air Work: Experience with the use of German TBG O2 Decompression Tables

Compressed air work – initially used in caissons for bridge foundations or tunnels completely excavated under compressed air conditions – has also become standard in TBM tunnelling in the last decades. As air only decompression had caused several cases of decompression illness (DCI) in the past, work in compressed air and the decompression procedures had to be reassessed. As a result oxygen decompression was implemented into the decompression procedure.

Introduction

Oxygen decompression is beneficial for a faster exchange of nitrogen which is dissolved in the exposed operative. 100% Oxygen is administered at the pressure levels of 1.0 bar and 0.5 bar via a breathing mask. The higher amount of physically solved oxygen in the blood serum and body tissues helps for a better outcome after nitrogen partial saturation of the exposed individual worker. Because of the beneficial effect, oxygen application in compressed air work (CAW) became legal standard in the German regulation “Verordnung über Arbeiten in Druckluft (DruckLV)” in 1997.

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