Also, it implemented so-called Prevention Through Design Workshops, which identified risks. At one workshop, for example, the team looked at the danger of working at heights to erect the roof of the Velodrome. Brainstorming led to an alternate design for a cable-net roof that could be assembled at ground level and lifted into place. Gibb said the alternative had a higher first cost, but saved money on labor because it was six months quicker to erect.

Team leaders spent time with workers who didn’t speak English as their first language, Gibb added. “We have 12 different languages on most of our construction sites. Putting things in pictures was an important part of getting that done,” he said. Another factor was recognizing success; for example, working supervisors were acknowledged for graduating from training courses. Also, like the athletes, workers were led in stretching and flexing exercises before starting their day. “It’s been done in other countries, but not so much in England,” Gibb said.

There were a number of research teams—from Loughborough, the European Construction Institute and others—that did legacy research about health and safety on this program. Gibb cited the findings of the United Kingdom's Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Health and Safety Executive about how project communication contributed to success. It identified factors such as overall competence, client commitment, management listening to workers, health and safety forums, project planning with a three-month look-ahead schedule and analysis of statistics for lessons learned.

Even more interesting was the second research project, which explored what was really happening, Gibb said. “What was really making a difference? We’ve done these systems before, but they haven’t been so successful,” Gibb said.

It really has to do with management, Gibb pointed out. “It’s not rocket science, but the things we found that were making a difference were the things we all know about—respect, trust, empowering parties to work to the best effect, motivating people to achieve more than they think they can, being consistent, alignment in the supply chain, clarity, transparency, shared commitment and thinking ahead. They were good people with good processes, and we shouldn’t take them for granted,” he said.