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Longitudinal health and safety project is a first for UK construction

Researchers at Loughborough University are embarking on a unique project that will track and inform health and safety leadership, policies, and practices at Tideway.

The project, commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), is the first of its kind to study the impact and process of occupational health and safety (OSH) in real time on such a large, multi-site construction programme.

Tideway is the company building the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a major new sewer urgently needed to protect the tidal River Thames from sewage pollution. The 7.2m diameter tunnel, which is due for completion in 2023, is 25km long and runs up to 65m below the River Thames.

The project is divided into three sections – each constructed by different joint ventures comprising teams from the UK, France and Spain.

Loughborough researchers will be embedded into each of the joint venture teams and will monitor key health and safety processes, personnel, documents, events and activities to provide robust evidence of what does and doesn’t work.

Because of their unique positions within the teams, researchers will be able to witness how OSH policies and practices intersect with other organisational agendas, and review their effectiveness in real-time.

Ultimately, it is intended that findings and best practice will be shared across the wider construction industry and will influence future OSH management and practice.

Project lead Alistair Gibb, Professor of Complex Project Management in Loughborough University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, said: “This is one of the first studies employing longitudinal research methods on a major infrastructure project of this type, providing an exciting opportunity for researchers to be involved at the very early stages of a major project and follow it through to completion.

“Almost all previous health and safety research comes from a snapshot approach. This project gives us a unique opportunity to monitor OSH within a living lab, and to provide real-time feedback that will enable managers to make changes and improvements – and evaluate their effectiveness - during construction. It promises to provide a completely fresh perspective on the ways in which OSH policies are enacted and implemented.”

Steve Hails, Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Tideway, said: “Taking part in this hugely important research with Loughborough University is one way we are working towards achieving transformational health, safety and wellbeing standards at Tideway.”  

IOSH Head of Information and Intelligence Kate Field said: “IOSH is pleased to be funding this innovative research programme, with the opportunities it presents to examine transformational OSH practices over an extended period.  It has the potential to provide new insights into key OSH issues that will be of real value to our members and business.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 16/161

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

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 has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

Photo credit: Tideway

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