Building a safer future at the Olympics

21 Jul

On Monday I had the pleasure of a guided tour around the Olympic Park in preparation for a feature I’m writing for September’s Safety Management. Now, I must admit, I’m not a great sports enthusiast. Not anymore at least. I can image the 14-year-old me would have been ecstatic to visit the Olympic Park. But now I was excited to see firsthand how a dangerous construction site was managing safety. I was just a bit excited to be going to the Olympic Park before its open to the public.

To begin with I sat down and had a chat with some of the people working on site to see how they have found the project. One thing that struck me is how everyone is incredibly proud, not only to be working on the Olympic Park, but to be part of a project that has such an excellent health and safety track record. So I got kitted out in my PPE and, escorted by the excellent guide Alan O’Hagan, assistant health and safety advisor at BAM Nuttall and former carpenter on the Olympic site, I had a wander around the Park.  

You really cannot escape from safety on the Park; it’s everywhere and seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. I won’t list the initiatives in operation to make safety the top priority because it will take all day. But it was clear to me that everyone was engaged by the idea of safety. Safety is considered first before anything is done, which, considering construction is such a dangerous industry, is precisely as it should be.

Some have expressed doubt about whether this can ever be achieved again. But I see no reason why this should be the case. So long as everyone involved in the Olympic construction phase, whether that be the project directors, health and safety managers and advisors, contractors, workers, office staff, take the attitudes towards safety with them as they move to other projects, imparting this knowledge and these ways of working to others, we could see safety as a top priority across the board. If the thousands upon thousands of people involved in some way with the Olympic project take something of the Olympic perception about safety away with them, we could well see a safer industry.

My grandfather worked in construction his whole life, starting in the late 1940s and retiring around 12 years ago.  I can’t help feeling if he went onto a construction site now he would barely recognise it. If he could visit the Olympic Park and see the advancements made in worker health and safety, I imagine he would be slightly shocked, but incredibly pleased.

Read the full article in September’s Safety Management.

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2 Responses to “Building a safer future at the Olympics”

  1. Astutis July 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    It is fabulous that the upcoming Olympics has bought out the good old fashioned feeling of being able to take pride in our work and caring enough to do it well. Lets’ hope that the un-blemished health and safety record remains that way, just to prove that it is not impossible.

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