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Olympic safety lessons 'could cut deaths'

The construction industry’s death toll could be slashed if firms copied safety methods used while building the Olympic park.

Research into how the park was built was built with zero construction fatalities had shown that the approaches used could be adopted elsewhere with little financial cost to contractors, a study for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health and the Health and Safety Executive has found.

It highlighted five action points:

Lead from the top. The Olympic Delivery Authority set standards and also visibly engaged with the workforce to direct, motivate and change behaviour.

Develop competent supervisors. The positive impact of technically knowledgeable supervisors upon health and safety was understood, as well as softer communication skills to influence understanding and behaviour.

Foster an open, positive safety culture. If workers are engaged and feel managers care for their wellbeing, they’re more likely to get involved with the health and safety process.

Reward good behaviour. Incentives and rewards helped to promote and encourage safe behaviour.

Review and learn. Any problems were constantly reviewed and communicated across the organisation.

IOSH executive director of policy Luise Vassie said: “The ODA’s exemplary health and safety record speaks for itself. The techniques used 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.”

HSE director of operational strategy Stephen Williams said there was evidence that workers continued to implement the safety lessons they had learned on the Olympic even after they moved to other jobs.

“It is a very encouraging sign that transfer of the good practice to other construction projects is already happening,” he said.

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