Olympics safety success may be as good as it gets for HSE
The health and safety record of the London 2012 Olympics construction project has been outstanding but the scale of the achievement may never be seen again, according to a senior HSE inspector.
Principal inspector of construction for London Mike Williams (right, in the picture) suggested that given the recent cuts to the regulator’s budget and the consequent impact on how it carries out its proactive work, the success of the 2012 project “was, perhaps, a one-off”.
Speaking at a health and safety forum held at the Olympics site in east London last week, Mr Williams described the level of health and safety achievement on the site as “fantastic”. He also explained that the regulator’s approach to the project was “to get involved early, checking that all the arrangements are there and looking to others in the chain to see what they plan to do”.
Overall, he said, this approach was “constructive” and, while there were lessons to be learnt, and some minor incidents did occur, “the statistics can’t be bettered”.
But although he emphasised that the HSE will learn from the project and aims to “take forward the best that has been achieved and ensure the legacy of the Games can stand up to that”, it will be more difficult now for the regulator to get involved in major projects such as this.
Mr Williams explained: “The HSE’s role is not what it has been. We are under much more scrutiny, and expected to remove burdens and simplify things. Our website, now, will be the main vehicle for ‘talking’ to people. Construction is high-risk and, as such, it is a sector we will continue to focus on, but our primary focus will be on smaller sites, not large projects, so we will just have to see how it goes.”
The comments were made as the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) announced that the Park and Village workforce had achieved 3 million hours worked without a single reportable injury. Despite being the largest construction site in Europe, with more than 12,000 workers, the reportable accident rate on the Olympic Park is around a third of the construction-industry average and below the national average for all workplaces.
Said the ODA’s head of health and safety, Lawrence Waterman (left, in the picture): “Health and safety has been our number-one priority from the clean-up of the Olympic Park through to the completion of the ‘big build’. We are not complacent and, as we approach the finish line, we will continue to work with our contractors and workforce to set new standards in health and safety construction.”
To read SHP’s full feature report on last week’s health and safety forum at the Olympics site, click here.
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