REUTERS | Jason Lee

The Olympic Park: something to sing about in these otherwise depressed times

Last week, those participating in TeCSA’s technical training course, “Building Stadia: from the start to the finishing line!” were extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to tour the Olympic Park. This included being taken into the bowl of stadium itself and driving up the 100 metre “track”!

It is only when you visit the site at Stratford you realise the sheer scale of the challenge of turning an extremely brown, brownfield site into an Olympic Park, while at the same time keeping sight of the overriding objective of regeneration and legacy and creating Europe’s biggest new urban park for 150 years.

Progress

This was my second tour. The rate of construction activity over the last four months is astonishing. In May there was nothing but soil on the site of the main media centres. Now a congratulatory message attached to the steel frame (large enough to house five jumbo jets) confirms it has been completed ahead of programme. The steel work for the unbelievably complex looking “stingray” roof of Zaha Hadid’s aquatic centre is also taking shape, when four months ago the temporary works for it were just starting.

The statistics are mind boggling:

  • Half a million tonnes of contaminated soil has been washed or bio-remediated and reused on site, reducing to a minimum the road movement of groundworks lorries through the local community.
  • The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is exceeding its ambitious target of recycling 94% of all demolition materials from the site (currently, 96% has been reclaimed).
  • Five delivery lorries enter the park every minute and each one has to give 24 hours’ notice. Vehicle movements alone are a major logistical exercise.

Helping the industry

There are 4,400 people currently working on the site. This will rise to 10,000 next year, at the peak of activity. Over the life cycle of the construction phase, 30,000 people will have been employed on the site, with 20% of workers employed from the five host boroughs. Also, 9% of those who are now working on the site were previously unemployed. This gives a real impetus to the local community and a shows how the project is providing work to many in the industry.

The project is a real boost to UK plc too. 98% of contracts (works in excess of £5 billion) have been awarded to UK companies, many using the  innovative CompeteFor process, described to us as “on-line dating between companies”: if only all online dating had such a happy ending!

Health and safety

All this has been achieved alongside an excellent track record for health and safety. As Natalie Wardle reminded us in her blog post at the beginning of the month, the industry’s credentials on health and safety leave much to be desired. Happily, putting health and safety at the heart of this project has helped achieve an enviable track record, described by Tessa Jowell as “second to none”.  Despite the scale of the operation, with so many distinct secure construction sites within the overall park, the milestone of over one million man hours worked without a single reportable accident has been achieved eight times.

The reminders about health and safety and “if something looks wrong report it” on the hoardings around the site are clearly being actioned at all levels. This makes the project a showcase to the rest of the world and shows how, if there is a will, ambitious construction can be undertaken in the UK without compromising lives.

Lasting impressions

I left the site thinking how proud we can all be to be associated with an industry that is pulling out all the stops to deliver the construction phase of the Olympic Park on programme, with such an impressive health and safety and sustainability track record.

Even if you are not able to visit the park yourselves, the London 2012 website contains a mass of information, updates, webcam views of the buildings and photographs: take a look and believe!

One thought on “The Olympic Park: something to sing about in these otherwise depressed times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this post on: