Awards News Ucatt Warns Olympics Safety

Construction union UCATT have warned that extra vigilance is needed to ensure that the construction of the Olympic Games is completed safely.

The union issued the warning after learning that the frequency of accidents on the Olympic Village is double the rate on the Olympic Park.

Evidence shows that accident rates often increase on major projects during the final months, as there is a rush to finish the project. This can result in corners being cut on health and safety and workers being compelled to work excessive hours. Working excessive hours is a major factor in accidents as tiredness results in a greater number of mistakes occurring. The main construction phase of the Olympics is due to conclude this summer.

In recent weeks there has been growing reports of workers working excessive hours on the Olympics, especially on the Olympic Village.

Despite the Olympic Village being a much simpler construction project than the Olympic Park, the level of accidents is much higher. UCATT has learned that the Accident Frequency Rate on the Olympic Village is 0.24 for every million man hours worked, compared to an AFR of 0.11 on the Olympic Park.

Alan Ritchie , general secretary of UCATT, said: “It is essential that everyone involved in the Olympics makes every effort to ensure that accidents do not increase during the final months of this project. While accident rates are currently not high, it is all too common for these rates to increase dramatically in a rush to finish a project. That must not be allowed to occur on the Olympics.”

The Olympic Park is governed by strict rules agreed at the inception of the project arranged between the Olympic Delivery Authority and the construction unions. Titled the Memorandum of Agreement this ensure that workers are employed directly and that minimum construction wage rates are guaranteed. By ensuring that workers are directly employed problems associated with a highly casualised workforce have been avoided.

Despite the Olympic Village also now being a publicly funded project the same rules do not apply to it, creating a more casualised environment, which impacts on safety levels. The level of casualisation are demonstrated by workforce surveys, which show that 82% of workers on the Olympic Park were receiving hourly pay above the London Living Wage rate of £7.85, however only 60% of the workforce on the Olympic Village report being paid the LLW or above.

UCATT have been campaigning to have the Memorandum of Agreement applied to the Village to boost safety levels, regularise working practices and to ensure that the correct rates are applied to the work being undertaken.

Ritchie, added: “The Olympics demonstrates categorically that there is a clear link between casual working practices and accidents in the construction industry. It is essential that measures are taken to improve safety and working conditions on the Olympic Village.”

Despite the concerns about safety levels, on the whole the current safety record on the site is good, compared to many other construction projects. Currently there have been no fatal accidents on the Olympics and only a very small number of major injuries on the project.

Earlier this week Dennis Hone, the new director of construction on the Olympics, launched a new safety awareness campaign for Olympic workers.

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