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Leisure Management
2013 issue 4

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Leisure Management - RD Health & Safety

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RD Health & Safety

Managing director of RDHS Limited, Joe Ryan, talks about how the successful management of contractors at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games can have a lasting legacy for public facing sport and leisure operators across the UK

There was an inclusive culture across the Olympic Park

Preparing for work
With up to 180,000 accredited contractors working across the Olympic Park, the risk of accidents, incidents and ill-health was always going to be high. From the outset, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) made it clear that health and safety was their number one priority.

The regulation of workplace health and safety has changed significantly over recent decades, moving away from prescriptive legal standards towards an increasing reliance on goal- and process-based standards.

There is now a general consensus among practitioners and policy makers that a comprehensive and systematic health and safety management system is an essential pre-requisite for meeting these standards.

Raising the bar on health and safety
Contractors were expected to demonstrate strong leadership and were held accountable for their health and safety arrangements. The bar was raised and the culture across the Olympic Park was not ‘what we did’ but ‘the way we did it’. It was felt that the better we could manage health and safety, the more contractors were able to keep to time and budget.

Speed of completing tasks proved not always to be the safest method and increased risk. Client management ensured contractors were prepared to complete tasks in a slower, safer way.

Active Engagement
Raising standards of health and safety could only be achieved through active engagement of the contractors and their workforce. Each venue on the Olympic Park set up a Safety, Health and Environmental Leadership Team (SHELT). These groups led to an inclusive culture across the Olympic Park, avoiding a ‘them’ & ‘us’ scenario.

Poster campaigns such as ‘You’re Part of it’ and ‘Be Proud’ complemented the Park Life monthly newsletter and contributed hugely to worker involvement.

Reams of text just don’t get the message through to the right people, those interfaced with risk. To address this, a set of visual standards were established and used park-wide, which avoided any misinterpretation. The message was clear, ‘this is what good looks like’ and ‘this is what bad looks like’.

Learning legacy
The big question on my mind these days is whether these standards can be implemented through legacy into many of our local sport and leisure venues.

I have been alarmed for some time now at the lack of management control of contractors. I have witnessed contractors being allowed on-site without going through an appropriate procurement and selection process. A lack of task-specific Risk Assessments and Method Statements (RAMS) topping the list of deficiencies.

If we are to learn the lessons from London 2012, we need to understand better how to manage contractors and the risks associated with their work and getting this wrong. Contractors who worked on the Olympic Park do not want to go back to the way it was – they want to take these standards onto their future jobs.

Success is dependent on the client’s on-going determination to fully exploit their influence, ensuring clarity and transparency of governance, worker involvement and empowerment.

RDHS, supplier of health and safety support services (Olympic Park) to the London 2012 Games.
For further information regarding services offered by RDHS, visit www.rdhealthandsafety.co.uk

Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 4

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