The municipality of Zaanstad has had an overly one-sided approach to meeting its responsibility for safe bridge operation by approaching it primarily as a technical problem. The municipality saw the safety of bridge operation as the sum of the components that result from following the applicable standards and directives. The municipality did not consider the relationship and interactions between technology, humans and the environment, while these largely determine the degree of safety of remote bridge operation. The investigation demonstrated that the layout of the Den Uylbrug from the road user’s point of view and the execution of the operating process, the camera system and the operator’s working conditions all leave room for improvement.
As a result of this one-sided focus on technical solutions, safety - for which the municipality of Zaanstad was responsible as bridge manager - became the bridge operator’s problem. The municipality provided the bridge operators with too few guidelines to recognize and successfully assess hazardous situations. The operator took the decision on whether a bridge could be opened safely entirely on the basis of personal experience and insight. The operator had to personally assess - given the conditions at his/her workplace and on the bridge - whether or not they were in a position to make such a decision properly. The factors that played a role are not unique to the Zaan case. It is therefore important that other bridge managers in the Netherlands, as well as the municipality of Zaanstad, check what lessons they can learn based on this report.