Construction companies can benefit from the health and safety successes learned from the construction of the Olympic Park, according to recent research.
Innovative communication techniques that helped to prevent worker deaths during the Olympic build could be harnessed to benefit other construction projects, the study from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has argued.
The unprecedented zero fatalities during the construction phase of the Games highlighted five key areas that companies in the construction sector – which is often a blackspot for accidents and fatalities – could focus on to help reduce injury and ill health in their own workforces.
The five key areas were:
- Lead from the top. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) sets standards and also visibly engaged with the workforce to direct, motivate and change behaviour by focusing on its long-term goals.
- Develop competent supervisors. The positive impact of technically knowledgeable supervisors upon health and safety was understood, as well as using softer communication skills to influence understanding and behaviour.
- Foster an open, positive safety culture. Safety was a dominating factor of the culture. If workers are engaged and feel that managers care for their wellbeing, they are more likely to get involved with the health and safety process.
- Reward good behaviour. Incentives and rewards helped to promote and encourage safe behaviour. In many cases, positive feedback was the real reward because it boosted morale.
- Review and learn. Any problems were constantly reviewed and communicated across the organisation. Most crucially, they were learnt from to improve health and safety.
Dr Luise Vassie, IOSH executive director of policy, said: “The ODA’s techniques 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.”
The study was carried out by a team from the School of Business and Economics and the School of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University.