When CM visited the Olympic Park last month, the evidence of efforts to reduce accidents was everywhere. Whiteboards showed each subcontractor’s weekly score on health and safety compliance, other boards listed workers’ comments on PPE and safety measures
No one can be in any doubt that building a safe Olympic Park is as important to everyone on site as building it on time and budget. Or is it? ‘They’re all over our backs on health and safety here,’ grumbled one experienced worker in his 50s. ‘It gets a bit much.’
What would that operative make of the Donaghy report then? ‘Genuine consultative frameworks to encourage greater worker participation’ won’t achieve much if the said workers feel harassed and harried. ‘An awareness raising campaign so that individual workers take the issue of reporting accidents more seriously’ won’t work if individuals fear the result will be more bossy injunctions.
But the industry’s main safety problem isn’t on sites such as the Olympic Park, run by a responsible client and major contractors that have made huge progress in reducing accident rates in the past decade. Statistically, workers are more likely to be killed or injured on small sites, where there is badly maintained plant, weak management and poorly trained labour.
Donaghy does little to distinguish between these two types of site and safety culture. But perhaps contractors should.
One proposal in our H&S article this month might resonate more positively with the worker above. ISG incentivises workers to stick to safety procedures through entry into prize draws. As ISG’s Vince Busk says: ‘We’re good at disciplining workers, but not so good at thanking them.’ Our grumbling worker would surely agree with that.
Elaine Knutt, Editor