Construction companies can learn from Olympics H&S successes, says IOSH
IOSH has highlighted five communication techniques that helped prevent worker deaths during the Olympic build, which could be used to benefit other construction projects.
IOSH and the HSE jointly commissioned Loughborough University to investigate how safety techniques were communicated, along with their impact, during the London 2012 build project.
Positive worker attitudes towards health and safety were encouraged by the ODA during the project, which helped contribute towards zero fatalities during the construction phase of the Games.
Researchers collected information via interviews with managers and supervisors, focus groups with workers, and document analysis of campaigns. From the findings IOSH identified five key areas, which could be transferred to construction projects of all sizes. These included:
- Lead from the top – The ODA set standards and also visibly engaged with the workforce to direct, motivate and change behaviour by focusing on its long-term goals;
- Develop competent supervisors – The positive impact on health and safety of technically knowledgeable supervisors was understood, as well as softer communication skills to influence understanding and behaviour;
- Foster an open, positive safety culture – Safety was a dominating factor of the culture. If workers are engaged and feel managers care for their well-being, they’re more likely to get involved with the health and safety process;
- Reward good behaviour – Incentives and rewards helped promote and encourage safe behaviour. In many cases positive feedback was the real reward, as it boosted morale; and
- Review and learn – Any problems were constantly reviewed and communicated across the organisation. Crucially, they were also learnt from to improve health and safety.
IOSH executive director of policy Luise Vassie said: “The ODA’s exemplary health and safety record speaks for itself. The techniques used were often low cost and had cross-company impact, showing that a good health and safety record isn’t out of any company’s grasp.
“IOSH would strongly encourage managers of small, medium and multi-contractor projects to take a good look at how these results were achieved and implement some of those principles into their own health and safety strategies.”
HSE director of operational strategy and London 2012 Games Stephen Williams added: “This is one of several research projects funded by HSE to create a learning legacy from the Olympic construction project. Evidence that change in workers’ safety behaviour has been sustained since they left the Olympic Park is a very encouraging sign that transfer of the good practice to other construction projects is already happening.
“HSE is taking the lessons learned out to construction companies of all sizes and challenging them to prioritise health and safety and aim for a standard of excellence.”