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    Research concludes that ‘human characteristics’ are key to Olympics legacy

    The Constructing Excellence National Convention today (30 Nov) included a celebration of the success of the construction programme that delivered the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Howard Shiplee, former Construction director for the ODA, launched HSE research report RR955 – Pre-conditioning for success: Characteristics and factors ensuring a safe build for the Olympic Park on the underpinning role of human characteristics such as respect, trust, clarity, challenge, early engagement, consistency, motivation, collaboration, empowerment, communication, openness, fairness and assurance.

    HSE Board member and executive director for Laing O’Rourke, Mr Shiplee said:

    “Though London 2012 was a unique experience for everyone involved, fundamentally it was no different from other construction projects and there is no reason that what worked during the Olympic Park build cannot work elsewhere.

    Getting the right culture and relationships in place early pays dividends not just for health and safety but for so many of the benchmarks for success, like delivering the project on time and within budget with high productivity and sustainability.

    This doesn’t occur accidentally, providing clarity from the outset is essential and measures need to continue through all phases, not just construction but into fit-out. As we have all seen though, the results can be inspirational – a beacon to the rest of the world.”

    The report concludes that many of the principles offer potential benefits across a wide range of construction projects, with implementation scalable to suit the simplicity or complexity of the work.

    Corresponding recommendations are presented for different parties in the construction supply chain.

    Regulation may be needed for supply chain success

    HSE co-operated with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and others on a series of Research Projects to identify and analyse the health and safety good practice and lessons learned from the London 2012 construction project. The research was conducted as part of the ODA’s Learning Legacy.

    This included Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) funded research entitled: Supply chain management for health and safety which assessed supply chain strategies on the Olympic Park, the driving factors behind them and their transferability.

    Managers, supervisors and workers were interviewed throughout the supply chain and data were analysed using NVivo software. The preliminary findings identify key factors driving the effective use of supply chain strategies for H&S management as including:

    • the reputational risk associated with high profile projects; and
    • pre-existing and well-developed H&S systems throughout the supply chain.

    These are described as a narrow set of circumstances which do not generally exist on most builds or within many of the small and medium sized enterprises that make up the majority of the UK construction sector.

    The researchers conclude:

    “Successful impact, therefore, is dependent on the client’s on-going determination to fully exploit their influence to ensure both clarity and transparency of governance, and worker involvement and empowerment, through effective communication up and down the supply chain.

    The circumstances which most effectively support this are rarely found on UK construction sites, so this legacy is unlikely to be fully transferable without significant change in the industry which may require support through regulation.”

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