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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
January 6, 2010

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Olympics project gears up for toughest year yet

The Olympic Delivery Authority has reaffirmed its commitment to health and safety at the start of what is likely to be the London 2012 project’s most challenging year.

ODA chairman John Armitt applauded the health and safety record of the project, which, so far, has notched up eight sets of a million hours worked without a reportable accident. However, he acknowledged that there are significant challenges ahead: “The number of workers and activity on site will reach their peak, with construction underway in every part of the Olympic Park. The logistical challenge is huge, with the workforce increasing to around 11,000 and deliveries increasing from the current rate of around 650 per day to around 1000 per day.”

Armitt attributed the health and safety achievements so far to “the commitment and hard work of everyone on site”. Initiatives on which the ODA and contractors have collaborated so far include the establishment of an on-site medical centre and health checks for every worker, surveys among workers to gauge their attitudes to health, safety and environmental management, and an annual awards scheme to recognise individual and team performances.

Head of health and safety at the ODA, Lawrence Waterman, agreed. He told SHP: “Because of the great team effort – from the leaders of our supply-chain companies on site right through our delivery partner, everyone at the ODA and our sponsoring Department (Culture, Media and Sport) — health and safety has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind when every decision has been made. This is what Sir John Egan called for in ‘Rethinking Construction’ and it works by producing an efficient and effective construction programme without hurting people. What makes it work is the pride we all feel working on the London 2012 project and the leadership that has been developed across the programme.”

Like Armitt, Waterman emphasised the need for hard work to maintain and improve on the project’s current record. He said: “We are building up to our peak workforce, and inevitably there is some churn in construction, so we will have a lot of new people to manage and induct in our health and safety culture. And we are moving towards the fit-out phase of work, and that poses new challenges, with small teams often working in close proximity to each other.”

Armitt concluded: “We cannot afford any complacency but I am confident that with what we have achieved to date, the foundations for success are firmly in place.”

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