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Olympic ill-health prevention programme leads to savings

23 January 2013

The potential economic benefits of preventing workrelated ill-health has been highlighted by new research on the construction of the Olympic Park and Olympic and Paralympic Village. Estimates were made of the likely economic benefits of having a team of occupational hygienists available on site.

The occupational hygiene team service saved contractors, employers, the government and individuals money by: reducing the downtime involved in dealing with health risks; minimising exposure to health risks, and thereby: reducing the costs of sickness absence (saving the project up to £7m over three years) and reducing the future costs of work-related ill-health (potentially as much as £81m for a workforce of this size).

The research, Occupational Hygiene on the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village, was commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and undertaken by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). It aimed to identify the potential economic benefits of preventing ill-health amongst the Olympic workforce through having a “health-like safety” approach on site. This ensured that workplace health management was prioritised in the same way as safety, supported by the occupational hygiene team.

The service was free to all contractors and workers involved.

If programmes such as this could eliminate work-related ill-health, then the savings could be as great as £74 for every £1 spent on occupational hygiene. The report identifies a number of specific examples of occupational hygiene practice that achieved immediate cost savings.