The London 2012 Olympic Park – a model for CDM best practice?


The construction industry can be a dangerous place in which to work. But the enormous London 2012 Olympic Park construction project has taken the lead in its approach to health and safety in a way that should be emulated in other schemes.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), in co-operation with the HSE, took an inclusive risk management approach with ‘no scapegoats’ that could be adapted to any project – irrespective of its size or budget. In order to help spread this and other best practices, HSE has published the first of seven research reports (conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies) which will form part of the London 2012 Learning Legacy.

Secrets of Success

Right from the start of the design process the ODA established their top level commitment to health and safety; and this meant that thousands of workers enjoyed a safer working environment.

Project leaders worked with the whole supply chain to develop a collaborative, learning and challenging culture. Every contractor was accountable for health and safety not just in their own part of the work, but for the whole Olympic Park site. The report highlights the following key success factors:

  • multiple two-way dialogue opportunities
  • training of supervisors
  • behavioural safety initiatives
  • reward and recognition for positive health & safety behaviour
  • a ‘fair blame’ culture

Workers felt comfortable in this environment to raise any health and safety concerns and they were involved in the problem-solving process.

The London 2012 Games construction project is being delivered on time and within budget but it is showing that achieving these goals does not mean compromising on worker health & safety.

Over a huge 66 million work hours, only 114 injuries and eight dangerous RIDDOR occurrences have been reported, up to October 2011.

Contractors please copy

In order to emulate this success, the first essential is to have powerful leadership from the top of the chain. Then there needs to be worker empowerment, in an environment where there are no worries about reprisals if they speak out.
In between, the contracting firms must buy into this process: and bearing in mind that most will not be able to afford full-time safety staff, they should strongly consider the use of professional health and safety consultants to help them play their part correctly.

Not all projects will be run by firms that have CDM expertise, and again, they would be wise to employ external CDM Coordinators to ensure that legal requirements are met, but also as a key part of the process of bringing all parties together and building safety into the project design.

For truly proactive support as your CDM Coordinator, or as Health and Safety Consultant, contact McCormack Benson Health & Safety.