From A Health & Safety Perspective London 2012 Achieved Gold

Peninsula Team

August 21 2012

The Olympics have finished and whilst we await the Para-Olympics, I look back with great pride at being British.  Not only for the success we have had in the competitive arenas but with the organisation, planning and delivery, of perhaps the greatest sporting event in the world, in old London Town.  A huge logistical challenge getting competitors and their entourages from 204 countries, large and small, with or without a realistic hope of winning a medal, onto our small island to live and compete in fantastic surroundings for 16 days. Whilst there were negative vibes leading up to the event over money, security, transport and the like, the final analysis says the whole event was a great success. On a professional “safety” related note the whole project can also be hailed a great success. The project to clear and develop derelict and challenging areas of East London leaving a legacy for future generations started not long after London successfully won the bid to host the event.  A 6 ½ year “construction” project commenced.  From a health, safety and welfare perspective this was a massive challenge.  The complexity of the project cannot be overstated. Projects included demolishing 220 buildings, 52 electricity pylons, excavating two six kilometre tunnels, building 6 new permanent venues plus 2 temporary ones, providing an area for housing the competitors creating as a legacy 2,800 new homes, to name but a few. This involved over 46,000 workers and over 80 million working hours, getting the venues ready for action.  On top of this the Olympic organisers had responsibilities to all the volunteers and spectators throughout the 16/17 days.  For the first time in Olympic history during the construction and development of the Olympic sites no workers were involved in a fatal accident.  A remarkable achievement but very little of the media hype that surrounds negative health and safety related stories picked up on this significant achievement.  A gold medal standard in my opinion. This did not happen without commitment and the application of standards of safety management throughout the whole development phase. This major success was based on good leadership, workforce engagement on a daily basis, excellent and effective communication and the development and acceptance by all of a safety culture.  Personal safety was a significant priority throughout and everyone was actively encouraged to buy in rather than paying lip service to the subject, of health, safety and welfare. Can lessons be learned from this success? In a word yes. Health, safety and welfare is a culture, a mind-set and a willingness by all from Senior Managers through to the newest employee to do things properly.  We don’t allow employees to steal from their employers because they know it is wrong, morally and legally, and there are rules, standards and procedure in place to help prevent this type of behaviour. This same methodology can and in “safe” working environments is, undertaken as a culture or standard.  Systems do not have to be overly complicated but practical.  The key is getting complete “buy in” and support from all, and an understanding of why things are carried out in a certain way. Let’s hope that the Para Olympics are just as successful and when all the spectators and competitors have left, that the demolition, alteration and final phase of the mammoth project to leave a long-term legacy still boast such a fantastic health and safety record. For more information about Peninsula BusinessSafe and how we can help keep your accidents to a minimum contact 0844 892 2772

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