HSE Gearing Up for 2012 Olympic Games

“When we think about the legacy of the Olympics, it will be great if we can say that as well as the social and sporting legacy, it also heralded a change in attitudes to health and safety," said Judith Hackitt, chair of Britain's Health and Safety Executive.

The London 2012 Olympic Games officially start in 85 days, and Britain is pulling out all the stops to ensure the safety of the event.

Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2007 starting working with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) with the goal of making the building of the London 2012 venues one of the safest construction projects ever.

It appears that HSE has met its goal. According to the agency, there were no work-related fatalities during the event’s “big build” construction phase—one of the largest construction projects in Europe. The “big build” project, which was completed last summer, clocked more than 80 million working hours, and figures from ODA show there were less than 130 reportable incidents.

In addition, the construction of the Olympic Park and Athletes’ Village was a large undertaking, with the worksite extending more 500 acres of formerly mixed-use land and involving an estimated 30,000 workers. In order to ensure that the health of workers was protected throughout their time working on the project, a comprehensive, preventative occupational health service was established and offered to all contractors.

“The project as a whole has shown that high standards of health and safety can make a positive contribution to the delivery of an extremely demanding project,” wrote HSE Chair Judith Hackitt in a recent blog.

Since completing the largest phase of construction, officials have stayed busy preparing other areas of the city for the Games.

According to HSE, the scale and complexity of the temporary structures required for event is unprecedented. The temporary structures include the basketball stadium, lighting and broadcasting towers, multistory food outlets, and seating. There will be 4,000 temporary structures in the Olympic Park area alone.

In addition to the sporting venues, crews will be responsible with the daily erection and deconstruction of stages, production facilities, and seating for events like the Cultural Olympiad and the Torch Relay.

Hackitt said the health and safety of the construction projects are a legacy achievement for Britain. “The practical lessons learned from the construction phase of London 2012 are already being applied to companies of all sizes from a wide range of industries—touching as they do on such cross-cutting issues as safety leadership, involving the workforce, and managing work at height,” Hackitt wrote.

“When we think about the legacy of the Olympics, it will be great if we can say that as well as the social and sporting legacy, it also heralded a change in attitudes to health and safety,” Hackitt added.

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