Britain Shines the Olympic Torch on Construction Safety

When the Olympic games descend on London in 2012, the event may result in more than medals, glory and athletic accomplishments. If Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has its way, the Olympics also will help set the tone for how the U.K.’s construction industry should approach safety.

"The construction industry has for many years been one of the most dangerous in which to earn a living. London 2012 is important because it shows it doesn't have to be that way," said Stephen Williams, HSE's director for London 2012. "No matter what size your organization, no matter what size your project, small changes in the way you operate can have a huge impact on the health and safety of your workers."

According to HSE, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has adopted an inclusive, "no scapegoating" approach to managing risks during the Olympic Park construction. This approach could be adapted to any project, regardless of its size or budget.

HSE started working with ODA soon after London was awarded the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, establishing clear targets of what standards were expected, encouraging strong leadership and sharing good practice. HSE stressed that the London 2012 Games construction project has shown that building projects on time and within budget does not mean compromising worker health and safety. In fact, during the 66 million hours of work completed so far, HSE received reports of only 114 injuries and eight dangerous occurrences.

"I want the rest of the construction industry to follow London's lead," Williams said.

HSE's research report on this matter is the first in a series the agency will publish as part of the London 2012 Learning Legacy. Reports can be accessed on the HSE London 2012 Web site.

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