The commitment to health and safety and occupational health made by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) when constructing the Olympic Park and Olympic Village has highlighted the value and effectiveness of prioritising ill health as well as safety on construction sites, according to research.
A study by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) for the Health and Safety Executive and the ODA examined the occupational health provision on the park and village.
The ODA’s approach was notable in prioritising ill heath as well as safety, including establishing a comprehensive OH service and offering free support and advice to all contractors from a multi-disciplinary team of nurses, physicians, physiotherapists and occupational hygienists.
The IES research tracked the progress and assessed the impact of the service, drawing on surveys of workers and managers at the park and village construction projects, with the aim of identifying the impact of the OH interventions on the attitudes, behaviours and exposures to health risks of people on site.
Lead author Claire Tyers said: “Although the construction industry has taken great strides on safety, the many benefits of taking a similar approach to health are not being fully exploited.
“By taking a proper forward look at what is likely to affect people’s health on site, and planning work to manage any health risks, there are hugely important gains to be made – as the world-class approach at the Olympic Park and Village shows.”
Lawrence Waterman, head of health and safety at the ODA, said: “An extremely low accident rate – unprecedented in a UK project of this scale – was reinforced with high levels of reporting, giving full confidence in our data.
“However, it was the occupational health programme that gave many of us the most satisfaction. We know that many more workers have their health damaged at work than are injured in accidents, and with IES’s professional scrutiny we now have clear evidence that our programme was an investment that yielded tangible positive rewards. The business case for occupational health has never looked stronger.”
In a separate development, the “outstanding and exemplary” safety and health achievements of the construction phase of the games have been recognised through a special award to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
In May 2012, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents presented the Diamond Jubilee Award to the ODA at a ceremony in Birmingham.