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Frequently asked questions

How did HSE approached its role as regulator of the London 2012 Games?

HSE stated at the outset our commitment to act as an enabling and proportionate regulator for the London 2012 Games. We set objectives and made our expectations clear from the start, via high-level intervention strategies for the ODA and LOCOG. These are publicly available on HSE's website.  We have pursued a strategy of early intervention to advise and seek assurance, coupled with targeted inspection of high risk activities to ensure that standards are being met.

What is the scope of HSE’s regulatory role in relation to the Games?

HSE is the national health and safety regulator for the London 2012 Games, working alongside local authorities and with lead regulatory responsibility for:

  • Construction, including temporary demountable structures (TDS)
  • Broadcasting
  • Certain aspects of logistics
  • Certain aspects of workplace transport
  • Certain high hazard activities
  • Events organised by local authorities (e.g. Live Sites)

What was local authorities' role in relation to health and safety for the Games?

Local authorities are the enforcing authority for health and safety in relation to those activities allocated to them under the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998.  This includes most of the activities at sporting venues during the competition events ('Games time'), as well as catering and hospitality.

Some local authorities are also dutyholders in relation to the Games – e.g. as hosts of the Torch Relay, organisers of Live Sites and recruiters of volunteers. In this case, HSE is the health and safety regulator.

What was HSE's role during the competition events ('Games time')?

Local authorities were the lead health and safety regulators for most Games-related activity during the competition events.  HSE did not conduct proactive inspections at Olympic venues and sites during the Games.  We kept in close touch with local authority colleagues, to provide advice and support as required.  We were also ready to respond in the event of a work-related incident or emergency affecting the smooth running of the Games.

Who was the health and safety regulator for the Road Race events?

During the Road Race events, the road is classed as an event venue and therefore regulated by the local authority.

What was HSE's role in regulating public safety at the Games?

HSE has the operational policy lead for health and safety in the entertainment and leisure industry. This includes events and associated public safety. However, local authorities are generally responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation at events. Only where an event is organised by a local authority will HSE be responsible for enforcement.

HSE regulates work activities on the public highway.  This includes dressing public buildings and public places to provide the 'Look' for the Games, as well as setting out cones, barriers etc prior to events.  Any impact on the safety of the public arising put of these work activities comes within the remit of HSE

What was local authorities' role in regulating public safety at the Games?

Local authorities were responsible for enforcing the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at most of the Games-related entertainment, sports and leisure activities.  Section 3 of the Act covers safety of spectators and visitors where they are affected by a work activity. Local authorities also ensure public safety through their administration of the licensing regime.

Did HSE regulate welfare provision for workers at Games venues?

No. The relevant local authority is the regulator for sports events, except for workers engaged in broadcasting activities, which are regulated by HSE.

Was there a requirement to provide welfare facilities for workers at Games venues?

Yes. The venues are workplaces so the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations apply.  So far as is reasonably practicable, workers should be provided with  washing, toilet, rest and changing facilities, and somewhere clean to eat and drink during breaks.  The local authorities were the enforcing authorities for workers at venues, except for those working in broadcasting, for which activity HSE was the regulator.

Did HSE regulate welfare provisions for Games spectators?

No. At events, such as watching sport or attending Live Sites, the provision of welfare for spectators falls outside of HSE's regulatory responsibility.

Did welfare provisions apply to Games spectators who might be affected by extreme weather conditions – e.g. hot sun?

There is no requirement under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for dutyholders to provide for the welfare of non-employees. This means there is no requirement to provide facilities to protect people from extreme weather conditions.

What was HSE's role in regulating the activities of volunteers involved in the Games?

HSE regulates health and safety at work. This includes the activities of LOCOG volunteers outside Games venues and all the activities of the Greater London Authority and local authority volunteers.  The activities of volunteers are covered by Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Who was responsible for the health and safety of volunteers involved in the Games?

Responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 falls to the individual organisation by which the volunteer has been recruited – i.e. LOCOG, the Greater London Authority or the relevant local authority.

Are temporary employees covered by health and safety law?

Yes, they are covered in the same way as permanent employees.

Who is responsible for the health and safety of agency workers?

When a business uses an agency worker, the business and the agency have a shared duty to protect the health and safety of the agency worker.  Further information is available on HSE's website.

What enforcement action has HSE taken in relation to London 2012 construction?

On 15 October 2009, HSE served Prohibition Notices on Skanska Construction UK Ltd (Principal Contractor) and Cementation Skanska Ltd (Sub Contractor) who were working on the Olympic Park. The notices stopped the unsafe lifting of heavy piling cages because the work had not been properly planned.

On 22 June 2012, HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Tone Scaffolding, a contractor working on construction of the Horse Guards Parade Beach Volleyball Olympic venue. The notice stopped work on the construction of a cable bridge because workers were at risk of falling from height.

On 26 July 2012, HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Hornbuckle Livery LLP who were undertaking construction-related work at the Eton Dorney Olympic venue. The notice stopped work being undertaken with chainsaws to erect fencing without any suitable personal protective equipment, creating a risk of serious personal injury.

How many RIDDOR-reportable injury accidents have occurred during the construction and staging of the London 2012 Games?

HSE does not hold statistically reliable data on the number of RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995) reports relating to the construction and staging of the Games. There are a vast number of projects and businesses involved in work that could be considered Games-related, and there is nothing within the Regulations which requires the dutyholder to declare that the incident they are reporting is Games-related.

Have there been any work-related fatalities during the construction and staging of the Games?

There have been no work-related fatalities to date (July 2012).

What are temporary demountable structures (TDS)?

TDS include things like temporary buildings, seating stands, stages, large video screens and lighting towers. Thousands of TDS are required for the Games at venues and Games-related sites across the UK.

Who was responsible for the safe erection and dismantling of temporary demountable structures (TDS) at Olympic venues and sites?

For competition venues and certain non-competition venues, ultimate responsibility lies with LOCOG as the client procuring the TDS.  The contractors erecting/dismantling the TDS, the construction management contractor and others who are checking the design and build of the TDS also have dutyholder responsibilities.

What was HSE's regulatory role in relation to temporary demountable structures (TDS) at Olympic venues and sites?

The erection and dismantling of TDS is construction work as defined in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) and therefore HSE is the enforcing authority.  The only exception is for "the putting up and taking down of marquees and similar tents designed to be re-erected at various locations" (typically smaller, traditional marquees and tents) - these are normally regulated by local authorities.

What was local authorities' role in relation to temporary demountable structures (TDS) at Olympic venues and sites?

As health and safety regulators for the competition events, local authorities regulated the in-use risks associated with TDS at Olympic venues and sites, as well as those associated with the putting up and taking down of marquees and similar tents.  Local authorities are responsible for licensing some events and this includes provisions for public safety.

What did HSE done to help ensure the safe erection/dismantling of temporary demountable structures (TDS) at Olympic venues and sites?

HSE engaged early with LOCOG and its subcontractors, to make clear our expectations in relation to the safe construction and dismantling of temporary demountable structures.  We produced an Intervention Plan to assist inspectors in seeking assurances that key risks have been identified and appropriate management systems put in place. 

In support of local authority co-regulators, HSE's  intervention activity focused in particular on the development of clear arrangements for assuring the stability of TDS consistent with the industry-accepted (and HSE-endorsed) Institution of Structural engineers (IStructE) guidance for the safe management and use of TDS.  HSE followed up interventions with inspections at a sample of venues to check that assurances given had been met in practice.

What was HSE's role in regulating pyrotechnics (fireworks etc) for the Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies?

HSE had issued a Certificate of Exemption to London 2012 Ceremonies Ltd under Regulation 26 of the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005, to allow for the firework displays for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the stage pyrotechnics for the shows.

The Certificate covered the locations within the Park where fireworks are permitted to be present in preparing for the displays, the storage of low hazard fireworks in a purpose-built store within the Park, and the storage of pyrotechnic stage effects within the Olympic Stadium.

HSE had also issued a temporary licence under the Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987 (DSHAR) to L2012C, to allow for the loading of fireworks onto barges at Silvertown Wharf on the River Thames.

HSE is not responsible for regulating the safety of the conduct of the firework displays or other pyrotechnics in use; this rests with the relevant local authorities.

What did HSE do to seek assurances from dutyholders regarding potential risk to the Games from legionella?

As part of HSE’s contribution to securing a safe and successful Games, since early 2012 we had prepared and delivered a programme of inspections to premises with cooling towers in the vicinity of Olympic venues and major transport hubs in London.

HSE has worked closely with London local authorities and the Health Protection Agency to ensure that there is a proportionate and consistent approach to the inspection of cooling towers in the capital city. Two local authority legionella protocols had been produced, first for the inspection of cooling towers, and secondly for investigation in the case of a legionella event or outbreak.  London local authorities are committed to following the arrangements set out in the protocols.

Has HSE taken any enforcement action resulting from its inspection programme of premises with cooling towers in London?

HSE has served a total of 11 Improvement Notices on dutyholders at six sites.

What is the health and safety legacy from the main London 2012 construction project?

The main London 2012 construction project was completed with an exemplary health and safety record. It has demonstrated that building projects on time and within budget does not mean compromising on the health and safety of workers. It has set a high standard that all construction companies can aim for.

HSE shared with the Olympic Delivery Authority an aim to ensure a strong health and safety legacy from the London 2012 construction project, and co-operated with them on a series of research projects to capture the good practice and lessons learned for future application.

Many initiatives adopted on the London 2012 construction project were not costly or complicated, and are potentially transferable both to other construction projects and to industry more widely.

How will the good practice and lessons learned from the London 2012 construction project be disseminated?

HSE, the Olympic Delivery Authority and other partners are taking the good practice and lessons learned out to the construction sector and wider industry, and challenging them to prioritise health and safety and aim for a standard of excellence. 

How can I contact the organisers of the London 2012 Games?

LOCOG general enquiry line: 0845 267 2012.

How can I contact HSE about the London 2012 Games?

HSE enquiry line: 0300 003 1647

2012-10-25