A study of Olympic proportions has recently been conducted which was aimed at identifying the potential economic benefit of preventing ill health among the 46,000 strong construction workforce at the London 2012 Olympics. Commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and undertaken by the Institute for Employee Studies (IES) the study concluded that an occupational hygiene team saved money on the project by reducing any downtime encountered when having to deal with health risks. Another money saving strategy was to minimise exposure to health risks which was found to have achieve savings of £7m over a 3 year period.
So how was this achieved? The process was not too onerous and involved having the occupational hygiene team on site formulating designs, method statements and risk assessments which focused on eliminating or reducing exposure to health risks in the workplace.
It is now hoped that the lessons learned from this intervention can be adopted by other businesses in order to make similar savings and improve the health of the workforce.
Claire Tyers, principal associate at the IES and the research report’s main author, said: “The evidence is clear on this, and construction projects of any size could adopt similar approaches, suitable to their size, and see the benefits for themselves. One of the key things to consider is that the mechanisms which are familiar to managers such as risk assessments or near miss reporting can be used to switch the emphasis to focus on health issues thus making savings by reducing staff sickness-absence rates.
IOSH chief executive Rob Strange: “This research proves that the business benefits of investing in pragmatic health and safety far outweigh the alternative – skimping on vital worker protection. IOSH is working hard to show businesses that investing in good health and safety not only saves lives, but serious cash, too – this research proves this point exactly.”