25 July 2012 - NR 31/12
Construction companies can benefit from Olympic health and
safety successes - research shows
Innovative communication techniques that
helped to prevent worker deaths during the Olympic build could be
harnessed to benefit other construction projects – a research study
Safe and healthy behaviour was encouraged across the Olympic
Park, leading to an unprecedented zero fatalities during the
construction phase of the Games. And from the research, released
today (Wednesday 25 July), the Institution of Occupational Safety
and Health (IOSH) is highlighting five areas of the London 2012
build project, which companies in the sector could use to help
reduce injury and ill-health in their own workforces.
IOSH and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) jointly
commissioned Loughborough University to investigate how safety
techniques were communicated, along with their impact on multiple
contractors during the Olympic build. Looking at how positive
worker attitudes and behaviour in health and safety were fostered
by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), researchers assessed
knowledge transfer in, out of, and around the Park.
Researchers collected information from interviews with managers
and supervisors, focus groups with workers and document analysis of
campaigns. They found that workers really appreciated feedback and
liked that site managers were accessible, listened to concerns and,
where possible, acted on them.
IOSH executive director of policy Dr Luise
Vassie said: “The ODA’s exemplary health and safety record speaks
for itself. The techniques used were often low cost and had
cross-company impact, showing that a good health and safety record
isn’t out of any company’s grasp.
“Last year there were 50 fatalities and 2,298
reported major injuries in this sector, so IOSH would strongly
encourage managers of small, medium and multi-contractor projects
to take a good look at how these results were achieved and
implement some of those principles into their own health and safety
The study was carried out by a team from the School of Business
and Economics and the School of Civil and Building Engineering at
Leader of the research team, Dr Alistair
Cheyne, said: “Strong leadership, accessible supervisors, worker
engagement and reviewing practice are common tools for managers in
any sector and can be easily adopted by other organisations.
The successful implementation of these tools on Olympic Park was
due in no small part to the planning and organising provided by
ODA, and the willingness of contractors and sub-contractors to
engage with the Park-wide processes. Perhaps the biggest
success was the way in which organisations, big and small, showed
how easy it was to work so closely together to tackle health and
From the findings, IOSH highlights five key areas which can be
used in construction companies and projects of all sizes. These
1. Lead from the top. The ODA set standards and also
visibly engaged with the workforce to direct, motivate and change
behaviour by focusing on its long-term goals.
2. Develop competent supervisors. The positive impact of
technically knowledgeable supervisors upon health and safety was
understood, as well as softer communication skills to influence
understanding and behaviour.
3. Foster an open, positive safety culture. Safety was a
dominating factor of the culture. If workers are engaged and feel
managers care for their wellbeing, they’re more likely to get
involved with the health and safety process.
4. Reward good behaviour. Incentives and rewards helped to
promote and encourage safe behaviour. In many cases positive
feedback was the real reward, as it boosted morale.
5. Review and learn. Any problems were constantly reviewed
and communicated across the organisation. Most crucially, they were
learnt from to improve health and safety.
Stephen Williams, HSE director of operational
strategy and London 2012 Games, said: "This is one of several
research projects funded by HSE to create a learning legacy from
the Olympic construction project. Evidence that change in
workers' safety behaviour has been sustained since they left the
Olympic Park is a very encouraging sign that transfer of the good
practice to other construction projects is already happening.
HSE is taking the lessons learned out to construction companies of
all sizes and challenging them to prioritise health and safety and
aim for a standard of excellence."
Dr Vassie added: “Part of the investment the
UK has placed in hosting the Olympics is in the legacy it leaves
behind. We hope it will play a part for years to come, by inspiring
improvements in health and safety standards that reduce injury and
ill-health in one of our most hazardous industries."
For the summary of the research, please click
here, or for a list of recent projects IOSH has been involved
in, visit our
list of published research documents.
Notes to editors:
The research was conducted as part of the Olympic Delivery
Authority's Learning Legacy programme. HSE and IOSH
co-operated with the ODA on a series of research reports to
identify and analyse the health and safety good practice and
lessons learned from the London 2012 construction project.
IOSH is the chartered body for health and safety professionals.
With more than 41,000 members in 85 countries, we’re the world’s
biggest professional health and safety organisation.
We set standards, and support, develop and connect our members
with resources, guidance, events and training. We’re the voice of
the profession, and campaign on issues that affect millions of
IOSH was founded in 1945 and is a registered charity with
international NGO status.
About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with
an international reputation for research that matters, excellence
in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement
in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year
2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK
universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011
National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top
universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education
league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the
poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the
sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary
Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It
has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in
the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches,
sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s
largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a
wide range of sports.
It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading
research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994
to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each
member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring
excellent levels of teaching and student experience.
For more information please contact:
- Tim Walsh, Media
Manager, +44 (0)116 257 3252 or +44 (0)797 660 4715
- Amy Chappell,
Media Officer, +44 (0)116 257 3141 or +44 (0)798 000