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Health & Safety - time to act on construction's achilles heel

This summer Britain’s construction industry has been justly celebrating the magnificent achievement that is the practical completion of construction of London’s 2012 Olympic Park. Completed on time and under budget, the project stands testament to everything the British construction industry can achieve.

The project truly is an exemplar for the whole industry, having raised the bar on dispute-free procurement, sustainability and local workforce engagement. But the project team is proudest of its health and safety record.

The Park has seen four years of intensive construction activity with more than 30,000 workers employed so far.

Nothing compromised

Yet nothing has been compromised: no-one has been killed (the industry average would suggest four or five should have been by now) and the accident frequency rate across the Park is seven times lower than the industry average.

It stands as testament to the plethora of initiatives at project, company and industry level that are working to drive out the unsafe practices and poor risk management that has for so long plagued work sites across the UK.

Yet there is no room for complacency; in July official figures showed that the number of deaths in the construction sector rose from 41 to 50 last year. To drive health and safety to the top of the agenda, NCE has joined forces with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Standing Committee on Structural Safety to produce a quarterly special focused on highlighting best practice while also examining the latest issues and setting out where work still needs to be done.

CIC leads change

The Construction Industry Council is leading the charge on health and safety. Last month it unveiled new guidelines for members to help them explain to clients the importance of demonstrating leadership in health and safety on their projects. Chairman Gordon Masterton will spearhead our coverage with regular thought pieces.

There are many good initiatives out there. If your firm has a great approach to improving the health and safety performance of the industry, this is a great opportunity to showcase it, whether it is project -based or company-wide. Each quarter we will pick the best initiatives and give you the opportunity to tell NCE’s audience of clients and peers what it is that is making them so effective.

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