Toward One Job for Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing
By Tim Turney
The barriers and uncertainty felt when treating workplace health and safety as a joint entity are becoming problems of the past. Lawrence Waterman, founding partner of the Park Health and Safety Partnership and former head of health and safety for the London Olympic Delivery Authority, changed the meaning of the phrase “health and safety” forever when he approached the two processes together within the Olympic Park construction project. The project of building the sporting complex for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics, which employed 80,000 and required 80 million man hours, finished with zero fatalities—the first time ever for an Olympic construction project.
In presentations since, including at the British Safety Council’s 2014 annual conference, Waterman detailed the rationale behind emphasizing health management as much as safety. This process involved planning the work with health in mind—from the initial risk assessment process to site monitoring, developing worker/supervisor understanding, and demonstrating how actions help to drive wider standards.
At the conference, Waterman contextualized the issue, recounting first-hand experiences where health was regarded as difficult to understand and manage, with immediate causes that weren’t obvious.“Put simply,” he said, “it was always meant to be health and safety. Treating both with equal importance improves life expectancy and quality of life, creates healthier workers that will be more productive, and elevates business reputation and legacy.” 2017: Where Are We Now? It seems Waterman’s approach has truly caught on. Many organizations are implementing a similar approach in key sectors, including construction. The U.K. Health and Safety Executive’s #HelpGBWorkWell scheme, launched in 2016, is a further testament to the success of this new approach and the support it has garnered. Health is the focus of #HelpGBWorkWell, which highlights the costs of ill health, aligns health with risk management, and owns the topic of health more than ever before.
A related development is the continuing permutation of professional job titles in our industry that not only link health and safety together but also include quality, environment, and wellbeing (examples include QESH and SHEQ job titles). United Approach The Gibraltar International Airport project demonstrates control needs from a collaborative perspective—that is, bringing in environmental, wellbeing, and other elements on top of the traditional health and safety agenda. This project, which involves the construction of a road 1.24km long with two lanes in each direction, will ensure the land border connecting Gibraltar to mainland Spain remains open at all times.
The environmental manager for the project, Lucia Diez Cadavid, used environmental monitoring processes that ultimately changed health and safety measures. Cadavid utilized data to make the work force healthier and safer, including the introduction of screens, face masks, and sprinklers--all elements that fell under her role and responsibilities.
A 2004 study (PDF) conducted by the HSE found employers considered “health and safety” to be a generic phrase and individuals were unable to distinguish between the different types of risk concerned. We are much further forward then this now, and the responsibilities of a health and safety professional are wider than ever before, utilizing other areas of knowledge and skills. As the wellbeing trend continues to gather momentum and workplaces and employers realize the true benefits of an integrated approach, traditional “health and safety professionals” can look forward to the future.
Tim Turney is technical product manager at Casella.

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Construction of the sporting complex for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics in London.
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