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Leaked report reveals Olympic safety fears

A report leaked to the Guardian newspaper has revealed serious concerns about health and safety at the Olympic athletes’ village.

Compiled by the Olympic Delivery Authority, the report shows workers on site were 66 per cent more likely to be involved in a reportable accident than those working on the Olympic Park.

It also reveals that the ODA was so worried about accidents at the athletes’ village that it commissioned a special review.

According to the Guardian, the report says:  “Following a number of serious incidents and near misses at the athletes’ village, a review was commissioned by the ODA director of construction to be conducted in mid-September by the ODA head of health and safety, it is likely that the focus on the village will continue for the foreseeable future.”

The accident frequency rate for the athletes’ village for the 12 months to September 2010 was 0.25 for every million man hours worked - or eight accidents - compared to just 0.15 or four accidents for the Olympic Park.

However the paper claims, new ODA figures show that since September the Village has had double the accident rate of the Olympic Park.

In the last quarter of 2010, the accident frequency rate at the village reached 0.24 per million man hours, compared to Olympic Park rate of 0.11.

Construction union Ucatt which first received the leaked report, blames weaker employment rules for the higher frequency of accidents.

General secretary Alan Ritchie: “The Olympic Park is governed by strict rules arranged between the Olympic Delivery Authority and the unions that ensure workers are employed directly and that minimum construction wage rates are guaranteed.  The same rules do not apply to the village, creating a more casualised labour environment which impacts safety.”

Ucatt points to lower wage levels as evidence of casualised working.

Mr Ritchie said: “The latest ODA workforce survey shows that 82 per cent of workers on the Olympic Park say they are receiving hourly pay above the London Living Wage of £7.85 per hour, but only 60 per cent of the workforce at the athletes’ village say they are paid above this rate. This demonstrates a clear link between casualised working practices and accidents in the construction industry.”

According to the ODA 32 per cent of workers at the village who took part in the survey declined to say how much they were paid, leaving 8 per cent who said they were not receiving the London Living Wage.

A statement from ODA head of health and safety Lawrence Waterman said: “We take health and safety extremely seriously on the Olympic Park and village, which is why we have an accident frequency rate far lower than the industry average on both sites. In fact, the village’s accident frequency rate is 65 per cent less than the industry average.

“However, we are not complacent and constantly seeking to further minimise the risk of any incidents. We do this in partnership with the contractors and this is monitored by the regulatory bodies including the Health and Safety Executive.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Since when did an operative have to earn a certain wage before they have to comply with site H&S rules?

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