That Time I Crossed Europe’s Longest Bridge*

10 years ago | Vasco de Gama Bridge, Lisbon, Portugal | 2nd June 2013

Ten years ago, I drove over the longest bridge I’ve ever been across – the 7.67-mile Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon. We’d spent a week on the Algarve but flown in and out of Lisbon, meaning we’d needed to drive the 170 miles each way – which I was, of course, quite happy to do…

I know it’s quite a nerdy thing to admit to but I like to keep a note of ‘records’ I’ve notched up on my travels – a sort of personal Guinness Book or Records of places I’ve been and seen. Highest elevation? Dercum Mountain summit, Colorado (11,640ft). Lowest elevation? Bombay Beach, California (-223 ft). Most Southerly point? Phillip Island, Australia. Tallest building? ‘Top Of The World’ Observation Deck, South Tower, World Trade Centre, New York City (1,310 ft). Biggest stadium? Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia (100,024).

Sometimes you know the journey will involve a record-breaking element, as was the case the first time we crossed the Millau Viaduct in France (890 ft above the valley floor) – the bridge’s reputation preceded it. On this occasion, the significance of our surroundings was lost on us. Happily, because of the internet, it’s possible to learn all about things like that, after the fact.

As long as it is, most of this bridge is a ’causeway’ style bridge, built across lots of supporting pillars, with only one wider-spanning section, to allow marine traffic to cross beneath. For this reason, this bridge would never appear on any list of longest ‘single span’ bridges – considered by many to be the ‘sexier’ of the bridge record categories. Most of those notable examples are now in the Far East, although I have been across two in the top 20: The Humber Bridge (10th in the list at 1,410m) and the Golden Gate Bridge (19th at 1,280m).

* Wikipedia describes the Vasco de Gama Bridge as ‘the second longest bridge in Europe, after the Crimean Bridge’. Not only does that make it the longest bridge in the European Union but, between October 2022 and February 2023, the longest on the continent, while the Crimean Bridge was damaged as part of the ongoing Ukraine War.

Heading into Lison on the Vasco de Gama Bridge, approaching the Main Bridge Span

CSG: A Greater Focus on Health & Safety

Posted on on February 23rd 2017 

CSG recently welcomed Kevin Mooney to our ranks, in the role of Health & Safety Manager. It’s an appointment that highlights the paramount importance of the health and safety of our staff, our trading partners and everyone else with whom we come into contact.

Kevin joins us from Pentalver Transport, part of the Maersk empire and has 26 years’ experience to bring to bear, including 14 years as Manager. In a role where everything has to be done right, all the time, across a wide variety of sites and jobs, how does he begin to shoulder such a responsibility?

“I have a competence in safety management that comes from real-life experience, which gives me the confidence to make the decisions I need to make to do my job. Years ago, when I was a truck driver, I saw loads fall and learned from those situations.

“The variety of the role isn’t a problem because my job isn’t necessarily about knowing every situation but knowing where to find out everything I need to know. That means a lot of research and planning.”

It’s not difficult in any organisation to find people who’ll bemoan ‘Health & Safety’ for restricting mundane activities like lifting a box of paper or carrying too many cups of tea but that’s because its also easy to overlook why the need to ensure worker safety exists – and that means looking at a time when the concept was almost unheard of.


Photo: Paul Bentham


In the eight years between 1882 and 1890, when the Forth Bridge was being built, at least 57 people died and an undocumented number were left with disabilities. In a world without any formal Health & Safety obligations, the construction companies who build the 360-foot tall structure had one rule to prevent accidents in such a hazardous environment: any man seen with his hands in his pockets would be fired immediately. There were no harnesses, no safety nets and, aside from the provision of waterproof clothes and boots, the only other concession to safety was a small fleet of rowing boats beneath the bridge – who saved eight fallen workers from drowning. In all, there were over 26,000 entries in the log book of accidents and sicknesses.

Such frightening statistics show how far we’ve come as a society and remind us that the occasional frustration today is merely a sign that today’s employers simply can’t tolerate anything that threatens the welfare of anyone, be they employees, contractors or anyone else towards whom companies have a duty of care.

“As a person, I’m not risk-averse” Kevin adds, which may be surprising to anyone unwilling to look beyond the stereotype. “I’ve raced motorcycles and broken many bones while doing it. These days, I spend most of my weekends restoring my MG BGT, so I’m practical and I know how to get my hands dirty. Doing my job, you’re always well aware that it’s not enough to simply write the rules; I also need to ensure I maintain a culture of acceptance. If everyone buys in to a safety culture, that alone makes everything safer.”

At CSG, we’ve always taken our responsibilities seriously. With such a variety of hazardous environments to manage, and with ever-tighter regulations, it became necessary to further strengthen our already capable function. Aside from Kevin’s role, we’ve also added two new compliance officers and we’re working towards gaining Occupational Health & Safety Management 18001 status across all of our sites.