7 August 2012
IOSH member Tim Briggs, who is a
health and safety advisor at the Olympics, talks about his
health and safety role during the Games...
What role are you playing during the
My role with the Olympics started two years ago, helping to
locate and source competent safety practitioners to help during and
after the Games.
I’m part of a two man team looking after several venues - the
aquatics venue covering swimming, diving and water polo. I also
cover support areas such as logistics, fire safety, Olympic
Broadcasting Services, catering, cleaning and waste disposal.
So far, what are the most interesting
challenges you have faced?
The interaction between the many different nationalities and
cultures has been interesting – it’s convinced me even more that
IOSH has exactly the right vision of putting people at the heart of
health and safety.
The most interesting area visited for me has been the
subterranean filming points for the Olympic broadcast teams. This
enables them to film the swimmers and athletes below the water
line. From the filming points you actually get to see how athletes
propel their bodies through the water and the effort they expend in
the turn at the end of a lap is phenomenal.
What’s the most positive experience you’ve
had so far as a volunteer?
On a personal level I’m putting into practice what I teach my
students, my knowledge and personal skills are bringing about
positive change. It’s great to change people’s opinions surrounding
health and safety. Getting people to think positively about
applying practical common sense health and safety has been very
Where has the event excelled itself,
particularly where looking after volunteers is concerned?
People are meeting others of different cultures, nationalities
and approaches and talking, consulting and agreeing on how to run a
safe and healthy Games. The volunteer workforce is learning
different skills they can use elsewhere in their lives, which is
one of the unseen successes from this event that will benefit UK
To date, what have been the main health and
safety issues you’ve met with?
Usually, it’s involved people doing something they should not be
doing, or not doing something they should. It’s been issues like
slips, trips and falls, lone working, confined spaces, working at
height, waste management and waste disposal. Identifying and
maintaining traffic segregation routes, transporting equipment,
food hygiene protection and weather protection have also cropped
How is health and safety management for
Olympic events different from industrial safety management?
It’s no different. Good leadership is just as vital, as is
involvement of the workforce and co-operation and communication
between different languages and cultures. It’s about taking into
account the wide spread of ages, abilities, cultures, approaches
and numbers involved.
What’s the mood been like for workers
There is a huge sense of camaraderie, with volunteers going out
of their way to ensure everyone has a successful Games. Visitors to
the Olympic Park are appreciative of everyone’s efforts.
Is health and safety more stringent for the
Olympics? Should this be the case?
No – risk is a part of all sports and all risks cannot be
removed. Safety preparation for the Games both before and during
has taken account of general and specific risk.
Do you think the Olympic Games have paved
the way for better health and safety at sporting events?
The event is so large that a lot of good practice has been
identified and consolidated, refined and further developed. This
can be shared through the various professional safety networks to
ensure the world can learn and benefit from the legacy of the
London Olympic Games.
To what extent has your normal risk
assessment been adjusted to fit in with the needs of the
The dynamic risk assessment has been a larger part of my
methodology for dealing with risk. The Games has proven that using
generic and specific, formal and informal, supplemented by dynamic
risk processes is always an integral part of safety management.
Crowd safety is a big part in any match day
health and safety plan. Have Olympic crowds needed to be dealt with
any differently to other sporting events?
I think the main difference is that tribalism has been very
friendly and encouraging - most people have come to marvel at the
spectacle this Games is offering. So many people have come because
they want to share in and enjoy the atmosphere, as well as cheer on
their sporting heroes. National pride is very evident, but so is
tolerance of others’ support for others’ nations.