The 2012 Olympics means plenty of opportunities but also plenty of challenges, not least being the stadium in the Lower Lea Valley.
When it comes to height safety, innovative answers are needed. It is the shape that causes the headaches with stadia – the open core surrounded by a sloping roof.
The area is so large that, when you are on it, it appears to be mostly flat – it is not. When the stadium for Athens 2004 was being planned, computer modelling suggested that seven people would be killed by falls and several dozen would be injured.
The company involved – No Limits SA – ended up using static safety ropes strung in a web over the whole roof to act as temporary lifelines across the area, with workers attached by a full harness at all times.
Although the workers found transferring lines awkward, they appreciated that this was the best method of protection.
The particular challenges of the site were identified by a team of 23 people ranging from height-trained electricians and welders to rock climbers and mountain guides.
They concluded that they had to have four man rescue teams on standby and in permanent communication with every person working above ground level.
In all it required 11,500 m of static safety lines, 2,700 m of steel wire and 2,300 m of dynamic safety ropes to ensure the safety of the workers.
And while a number of people were hurt, nobody died. While the London Olympic stadium is smaller than the one in Athens, the roof area is more than 24,500 sq m and it is 53 m high.
The London stadium will be one of the most compact and, using only 10,000 tonnes of steel, the lightest built.
Eight tower cranes, each between 48 m and 60 m high, have been erected in the stadium ‘bowl’, ready for the concrete and steel work.
The stadium site covers more than 1.62 ha. Before work could start 30 buildings needed demolishing.
Working on broad areas of roof creates issues around shifting lines, the positioning of anchor points and the use of flexible safety systems.
Even though workers know that the safety systems are vital, using them can cause problems. The static line access system installed for the construction of the football stadium in Sydney has recently been replaced with a permanent static line system, which allows travel from end to end without any unlatching of lines.
This resolved many of the problems that workers encountered when moving around the extensive roof area.
For height safety in stadia, there is no such thing as a standard solution. An Olympic stadium needs to be aesthetically innovative but also provide a safe platform for construction workers.
Alan Marley is European marketing manager at Capital Safety