The construction union UCATT has warned that extra caution is required to ensure that the Olympic Games are built safely.
The union issued the warning after discovering that the number of accidents on the Olympic Village is double that of the Olympic Park.
Evidence suggests that accident rates on major projects often rise during the final months, as there is a rush to complete the project. As a result, health and safety standards may be compromised, and employees may be forced to work excessive hours. Working long hours is a major contributor to accidents because tiredness leads to a greater number of errors. The Olympics’ main construction phase is set to wrap up this summer.
There have been numerous reports in recent weeks of workers working excessive hours on the Olympics, particularly in the Olympic Village.
Despite the fact that the Olympic Village is a much simpler construction project than the Olympic Park, the number of accidents is significantly higher. According to UCATT, the Accident Frequency Rate on the Olympic Village is 0.24 per million man hours worked, compared to 0.11 on the Olympic Park.
“It is critical that everyone involved in the Olympics makes every effort to ensure that accidents do not increase during the final months of this project,” said Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT. While accident rates are currently low, it is all too common for them to skyrocket in a rush to complete a project. That cannot be allowed to happen at the Olympics.”
The Olympic Park is governed by strict rules that were agreed upon at the start of the project by the Olympic Delivery Authority and the construction unions. The Memorandum of Agreement ensures that workers are directly employed and that minimum construction wage rates are guaranteed. Problems associated with a highly casualised workforce have been avoided by ensuring that workers are directly employed.
Despite the fact that the Olympic Village is now a publicly funded project, the same rules do not apply to it, creating a more relaxed environment that has an impact on safety levels. Workforce surveys show that 82 percent of workers on the Olympic Park were receiving hourly pay above the London Living Wage rate of £7.85, but only 60 percent of the workforce on the Olympic Village reported being paid the LLW or above.
UCATT has been campaigning to have the Memorandum of Agreement applied to the Village in order to improve safety, standardise working practises, and ensure that the proper rates are applied to the work being done.
“The Olympics demonstrate categorically that there is a clear link between casual working practises and accidents in the construction industry,” Ritchie added. It is critical that steps be taken to improve the Olympic Village’s safety and working conditions.”
Despite concerns about safety levels, the site’s current safety record is good when compared to many other construction projects. There have been no fatal accidents on the Olympics so far, and only a small number of serious injuries.
Dennis Hone, the new director of construction for the Olympics, launched a new safety awareness campaign for Olympic workers earlier this week.