Tag Archives: London 2012

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.


London 2012 – the safest games ever

10 Jun

The Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) health, safety and environment awards event held last night brought home once again the full extent of the achievements of all of those thousands of workers who have been involved in the various London 2012 construction projects. I am not really interested in those purists who say it was an exceptional project driven by huge funds with powerful political backing including from government.

The exemplary health, safety and environment achievements are down to the dedication, commitment and camaraderie of managers and workers across all of the projects. I hope history does justice to these achievements and the stories of individuals and teams do not get lost. Howard Shiplee, ODA’s Director of Health and Safety, last night called on those who had worked on the various projects to take their knowledge, their commitment and their success and spread the word to others way beyond the construction sector. When we look at the London 2012 legacy of buildings in future years I hope we remember not only the medals and highlights from the games but the fact that the health and safety of all of the workers involved was properly protected.

I have over the last two years, though my involvement in the ODA health, safety and environment awards met some truly inspirational people – memories of them and their dedication will stay with me forever.

Thank you Huw Preece of Barhale. Laim O’Sullivan of UK Power Networks, Alan O’Hagan and Sean Melody of Bam Nuttall, Grant Findlay, Bill Brewer and Marcelle Hornshaw of Carillion, Stephen McNicholas of McNicholas, Thomas Faulkner of Skanskia, Bob Blackman of Unite the union and lots of others.

It’s been an honour.