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Health and Safety Best Practice
Case StudyLondon 2012 Athletes' Village

Mark Dickinson, Lend Lease Project Director of the London 2012 Athletes' Village and guest judge at the NHBC Health and Safety Awards 2012, offers his insight on why health and safety is such a key issue in house building and why the NHBC Health and Safety Awards have an important role to play.

NHBC's Health and Safety Awards are an important element in keeping health and safety firmly on the house-building agenda. The Awards provide individuals and organisations with the reward and recognition they deserve. They offer the industry Health and Safety benchmarks to strive for and a base for others to mould their own initiatives around.
Mark Dickinson, Lend Lease Project Director London 2012 Athletes' Village

Health and safety must remain a key priority

London Olympic Park

"Ensuring your workforce is safe and secure is a core responsibility for any employer in any place of work, but this is even more important to those working on building and construction sites where our teams are exposed to numerous hazards and dangerous equipment every day. This is why health and safety must remain a key priority for us; it is not an optional extra or someone else's responsibility. If you work in the house building industry, you have to realise that health and safety is a fundamental obligation legally, morally and commercially.

Culture of openness and effective processes

"We all understand the impact that a serious incident can have on those directly involved and many of us will have experienced the effect such an incident can have on the entire workforce, but we also need to accept that minor incidents can affect morale which in turn, may lead to further distraction and additional problems.

"Too often we focus on process to solve this problem but in order to truly create the conditions where every team member goes home safely every evening, a leader must establish a culture of openness, where thoughts and concerns can be heard and shared without fear of recourse. By combining an open culture and effective processes we can significantly reduce unnecessary incidents or injuries on our sites.

The Athletes' Village experience

"As Project Director of the London 2012 Athletes' Village, I experienced the practice of health and safety on a large scale and it was an eye opening experience. With up to 6,000 people working on our confined site, combined with over 1,000 vehicle movements per month, we were continually operating at significant risk levels. Thankfully, through relentless attention to getting the smaller things right, coupled with effective health and safety initiatives to keep things fresh, the number of incidents that did occur was kept to an absolute minimum.

Good engagement at every level

Olympic Park case study

"We successfully implemented a series of ideas to ensure that we had good engagement at every level: with sub-contractor management, supervisors and site workers. One initiative that the team is particularly proud of is our 'Black Hat Academy', which was created to bring supervisors together from across the numerous project sites and different trades to share ideas and best practice. Supervisors universally wore black hard hats on site to ensure they were clearly distinguishable and easily found. We instigated a "Safe Start" regime to ensure every worker was put to work safely every single morning; these were well attended by senior management and office staff and ensured everybody on site was aligned to our safety objectives. We set up and encouraged regular site clinics and working lunches with supervisors to generate an understanding of issues, to work through concerns together and ensure best practice was shared.

Sustaining good practice on a lengthy project

"Other initiatives included every worker and supervisor attending health and safety behavioural training and a comprehensive rewards programme that recognised good practice at all levels. A 'golden hours' approach was adopted to ensure that site management were on the ground, and not behind a desk, during those important first few hours of work each day to ensure that all site activity was being undertaken safely and coordination was effective.

"Whilst these initiatives all worked well in practice, we did need to continually refresh them. We were frequently reminded that working on a lengthy project holds an inherent danger of complacency and it became essential to continually reinforce initiatives and maintain regular communication.

"The rewards programme supported this with periodic safety weeks and weekly themes which reflected the risk profile at any given time. We also found that too many initiatives could become distracting for the workforce so it was crucial that we found the right balance. Ultimately it's just simple relentless attention to doing the small things right, time after time, which makes the difference.

The importance of the NHBC Health and Safety Awards

"Health and Safety is not an issue that can be addressed and then forgotten and that is why I believe NHBC's Health and Safety Awards are an important element in keeping the issue firmly on the house-building agenda. The Awards praise the best health and safety initiatives in our industry and provide individuals and organisations with the reward and recognition they deserve. They offer the industry Health and Safety benchmarks to strive for and a base for others to mould their own initiatives around."

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