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Security expert Ramona Mochèl is invariably stopped by travellers to ask for directions when she walks through the terminal in her yellow coat. But in fact, she is the point of contact for on-site contractors. Ramona has been hard at work on the redesign of Departure Hall 1 and Departure Lounge 1 since December. As she explains, ‘we are remodelling a busy part of Schiphol, so safety is our absolute priority. We have no room for accidents.’
Something must be removed in order to rebuild. In Departures 1, plenty of infrastructure has already been taken away. Stairs, lifts and shafts were removed, corridors were closed, and the Touch Down Café was completely dismantled. This all took place in a fully-functional departure hall. ‘Of course, the works continue to have a considerable impact,’ says Ramona. ‘There are construction sites, alternative walkways and narrower corridors everywhere, just to name a few things. It’s a far cry from a standard fenced-off construction site where contractors can go about their work undisturbed. There are travellers here at every turn. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever to keep a close eye on safety.’
Ramona’s career as an integral safety expert has covered many sectors, from the railway and chemicals industries to road construction. However, aviation is one of her favourites. ‘There are so many different factors to Schiphol’s renovations. We are building in the middle of a terminal used by millions of travellers. That makes for intensive work and calls for more creativity. What happens today can affect what happens tomorrow. I really like that dynamic.’
The construction projects affect everyone who passes through the terminal. Ramona assures us that people have no need to worry. ‘The past few months have mainly been spent pulling things down behind the dust barriers. We’ve done everything in our power to limit dust, noise and nuisance.’ However, the riskier aspects of the project have yet to come. ‘We will install a walkway that stretches for several metres to the Panorama Terrace on the third floor, for example. Most of the work will take place at night, but safety will remain a top priority even then.’
Ramona can be seen quite regularly in the terminal supervising all aspects of safety. She also spends time in the Skyport building, which is the Project Management Team HQ. ‘I assess plans and consult with contractors there. It is important that they comply with Schiphol’s rules, so that we can all work as accurately and securely as possible. We are building in the middle of a bustling airport. That puts all kinds of added demands on safety. This is no quiet country station.’