With the Paralympics set to kick off tonight (August 29th) hopes are high that the event will be as positive and productive as its predecessor, the Olympics. One of the most important ways in which London 2012 has exceeded expectations so far is in its approach to health and safety.
In fact, the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has praised this Olympic Games for its effective measures. It paid tribute to the role that health and safety played in the sporting event by labelling the summer Games a ‘blue print’ for health and safety that has left the UK with an important legacy.
IOSH executive director of policy Luise Vassie said: “The planning and hosting of the London Olympic Games has given us a twofold health and safety legacy. First, we hope it leaves a lasting impression on our construction sector, where employers use some of the same techniques in their own projects.
“We want the Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) health and safety innovations and ways of managing contractor relationships to mean fewer workers die in the course of their day jobs.
“Secondly, these Games should act as a blueprint for how to organise safe, large-scale events. Not just in the way that it developed crowd safety and transport plans to minimise the negative effect on London, but in the way that volunteers were managed.
“Everything knitted together so well to make this a triumphant success,” she concluded.
The positive effects of the safety measures were actually felt even before the Games kicked off, with the IOSH praising the building project where accidents at work were reduced by as much as two-thirds compared to the construction industry average.
Now that the Olympics have been successfully and safely hosted, many experts believe that the energy and costs that went into protecting spectators and residents shows the value of proper health and safety training.
Moreover, it proves that health and safety need not get in the way of big events. John Holden, a former IOSH president and previous health and safety advisor at Old Trafford (which was one of the Games venues), commented: “The cost of health and safety here was far less than the financial and reputational damage that serious injuries, fatalities or delays would’ve given Great Britain.”
Mr Holden described the safety measures as “practical and pragmatic” and expressed his hope that the lessons learned during the games would be transferred to future events.
“There’s been absolutely no red tape here. What we’ve seen is an investment in knowledge of how to run these events even better than we do already,” he said.
Earlier this year, the issue of health and safety at events came to the fore during the Hard Rock Calling festival in Hyde Park. A performance by music legends Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen was cut short, a fact that many blamed on health and safety bureaucracy.
However, Kevin Myers, the deputy chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, was quick to refute these claims.
“The fans deserve the truth. There are no health and safety issues involved here. While public events may have licensing conditions dictating when they should end, this is not health and safety,” he stated.