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5 December 2012 | PR 12/218

Loughborough research reveals secrets of Olympics safety success

Izzy Jeffs


The secret factors behind the health and safety successes during construction of the London 2012 Olympic Park have been revealed in a new study by Loughborough University.

Researchers identified 13 distinct characteristics in relationships between clients, contractors, designers, workers and regulators during Olympic Delivery Authority's Big Build, which created the 'pre-conditions' for ground breaking safety performance.

The Loughborough team took part in close out meetings for key venues and infrastructure projects on the Olympic Park and interviewed influential individuals. In making recommendations to help others replicate the success of the London 2012, they were able to pinpoint what made the relationships so successful, as well the importance of leadership and worker engagement.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which funded the research, believes construction sites of all sizes could adopt elements of the approach with similar results.

The project was led by Professor Roger Haslam from the Loughborough Design School and Professor Alistair Gibb from the School of Civil and Building Engineering.

Professor Gibb said: “Successful safety management relies on systems and people working together in tandem – neither is sufficient on its own and they rely on each other to achieve the best outcomes.”

Loughborough’s lead consultant researcher, Helen Bolt added: “The most important thing we discovered in this research was the value of the relationships between individuals and organisations.

“Of all the characteristics of the relationships in evidence during Big Build, the most critical were respect and clarity - they underpin everything, are not costly or difficult to achieve and can have a significant impact on safety culture and standards.”

HSE Board member and executive director for Laing O'Rourke, Howard Shiplee, was the Director of Construction for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).  He said: “Though London 2012 was a unique experience for everyone involved, fundamentally it was no different from other construction projects and there is no reason that what worked during the Olympic Park build cannot work elsewhere.

“Getting the right culture and relationships in place early pays dividends not just for health and safety but for so many of the benchmarks for success, like delivering the project on time and within budget with high productivity and sustainability.
“This doesn't occur accidentally, providing clarity from the outset is essential and measures need to continue through all phases, not just construction but into fit-out. As we have all seen though, the results can be inspirational - a beacon to the rest of the world.”

Despite construction of the London 2012 Olympic Park being one of the largest building projects in Europe, it was completed on time, within budget and set a new benchmark for health and safety.

The accident frequency rate on site was 0.16 per 100,000 hours worked – less than the building industry average of 0.55, and less than the all industry average of 0.21. There were no work-related fatalities on the whole London 2012 construction programme.

Over and above the provisions for safety management, there was an ODA-appointed occupational service provider operating on site. This support, which included health checks, health surveillance and health promotion, was available for all workers and all suppliers had to ensure their personnel actively participated.

The report, ‘Pre-conditioning for success: Characteristics and factors ensuring a safe build for the Olympic Park’, was launched at the Constructing Excellence National Convention in London


For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. This research is part of a suite of research projects and independent evaluations undertaken on health and safety on the London 2012 construction programme comprising:
    1. Leadership and worker involvement on the Olympic Park
    2. Occupational health provision on the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village
    3. London 2012: The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 - duty holder roles and impact
    4. Safety culture on the Olympic Park
    5. Pre-conditioning for success
    6. Communication and action for a safer London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
    7. Supply chain management for health and safety
  3. Research summaries are accessible on the London 2012 Learning Legacy website http://learninglegacy.independent.gov.uk/ Description: link to external website and should be read in conjunction with the summary for the project below which provides an overview of health and safety on the London 2012 construction programme Delivering health and safety on the development of the London 2012 Olympic Park and Athletes' Village.
  4. The data on accident frequency rates is compiled from information from the ODA and HSE. HSE reports injury incident rates per 100,000 employees - i.e. for 100,000 employee years. The accident frequency rate is calculated using this data and an agreed estimate of an average 1972 hours worked per annum. The rates quoted in this released are based on figures taken from HSE statistics for 2009/10.
  5. Full research reports for all projects are being published on the HSE or Institute Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) websites. For further information about the lessons learned from London 2012, please visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/london-2012-games/index.htm
  6. The research report can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr955.htm
  7. 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 Best Student Experience in England 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 Prizes.

    It is a member of the 1994 Group of 12 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.

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