Safety issues resulting from bad weather affect activity across London's Olympic park

Workers on the aquatics centre at the 2012 Olympic site were forced to down tools today amid health and safety concerns, as the snow hit London.

A spokesperson for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) said some workers had remained but that “there was temporarily reduced activity on the aquatics centre site due to health and safety considerations”.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Olympic park also suffered reduced activity in some areas. An ODA spokesperson said this was due to safety reasons but added that work was continuing across the majority of the site “with safety precautions in place where appropriate”.

Aquatics centre as it will look when complete
The aquatics centre as it will look when complete

The news came as lawyers urged contractors to examine their contracts over whether they might be entitled to extra time in light of the bad weather.

Contracts could have three options: no extension of time allowed, an extension but no provision for any extra costs incurred, or an extension plus costs.

Richard Laudy, partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “Most contracts provide a provision for exceptional weather conditions, but contracts do vary, so contractors should check theirs carefully.”

However, he warned that weather had to be considered “exceptional”, and that mere bad weather would not be enough to warrant a provision of extra time.

He admitted that clients might be liable to be less sympathetic in the current economic climate, and that disputes could arise as to whether the snow qualifies as “extreme weather”.

He said: “Some clients might insist that contractors should have included sufficient margins to cover bad weather in the winter months. What counts as exceptional will be a matter of debate.”

Chairman of Constructing Excellence Vaughan Burnand said: “The bad weather will put extra pressure on contractors when they really don't need it. We could see a rise in adjudications if clients dispute whether contractors are entitled to any extra time as a result of the snow.”

Meanwhile, construction commentator Brian Green has estimated that the snowy conditions plaguing the UK in recent weeks could lead to a calculated loss of between £400m and £900m for the construction industry.

Green made the calculation using constant price seasonally adjusted figures. He estimated that the weather could result in a drop of roughly 3% to 6% in activity.

With an added loss of repair, maintenance and improvement work, Green said the cold snap could cost the construction industry up to £1bn in turnover.

“The good news is that all that delayed work is not necessarily lost and you are likely to get a kick in activity in the following quarter as projects are brought back on schedule,” he said.

“The bad news is that the delay in work and in turn payments will play havoc with the delicate cash flow of struggling firms.”