Considerately transforming the Olympic Stadium – Balfour Beatty

The 2012 London Olympic Stadium has been transformed post-games for a wide range of uses for future generations, including the venue for West Ham United Football Club, and Balfour Beatty was contracted to lead this £200 million conversion.

For this exciting project, components have been added, recycled and enhanced to create a world-class venue that sets a new standard for sustainable design, engineering and construction.

Specific works included the installation of a new insulated roof, structure strengthening and the removal and re-installation of 14 floodlight panels suspended from the roof. It also involved the construction of the ‘Halo’ which encircles the stadium, containing security, catering and toilet facilities. A retractable seating system was installed after the removal of 25,000 seats.

A project of this magnitude does not come without its challenges with respect to the community, the environment and the workforce. The sheer number of people required on this very large site (10,000 people inducted, 2,000 on-site at peak) presented significant coordination and safety issues.

You can find out how the project team overcame these hurdles, as well as reading further examples of best practice implemented on site, by clicking on the five areas of the Code of Considerate Practice below:

  • Redundant materials from the site were donated to neighbouring charities, e.g. timber decking from deconstructed bridges donated to a local Newham Council park.
  • The workforce volunteered at local community facilities to help with minor construction works, including fixing the roof of a local friary.
  • Visits were arranged to local colleges to promote work in the construction industry (e.g. Newham College of Further Education, Barking & Dagenham College).
  • 26.7% of the workforce was successfully employed from the local area.
  • The impact of delivering and parking on surrounding public highways was minimised by using a local storage area to assemble large items, then transporting them a short distance to site on closed roads.
  • Pedestrian crossing signs were in place to alert heavy goods vehicle drivers.
  • The workforce used local venues for social and charity events.
  • No complaints were received concerning air, light and noise pollution. Sound pressure levels and dust production were carefully monitored throughout the project.
  • Local watercourses were monitored for pollution and birds were monitored, with work programmes adjusted to avoid interference with nesting.
  • Targets and performance were displayed on notice boards.
  • The site was in close proximity to locally significant waterways, including the River Lea which flows through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Part of the transformation required the team to conduct deconstruction and enhancement works on bridges, therefore posing a contamination risk to local waterways and wildlife. To mitigate this, they worked in close collaboration with waterways experts – including the Canals and Rivers Trust – to implement a clear good working practice strategy prior to the works taking place. 
  • The contractor achieved over 2.5 million man hours RIDDOR free – this included roof works, which required operatives to abseil down to the workface.
  • Initiatives for continuous safety improvement were led by the Senior Leadership Team, to ensure that health and safety was at the forefront of workforce behaviour and conduct. Of particular note were the ‘Back to Work’ briefings, led by the team Project Manager after the Christmas Holidays, the ‘Stop for Safety’ event held every fortnight, and the ‘Why I Work Safely’ initiative to highlight the importance of safe working to operatives.
  • Random drug and alcohol testing was corporate policy and monthly awards were provided for positive health and safety performance.
  • All visiting vehicles were required to be FORS registered.
  • Weekly health and safety walk-throughs took place with monthly initiatives, toolbox talks and daily briefings, all combined to promote safety issues on site.
  • Regular interaction with park management, the client, and Canal and Waterways Trust ensured that public and park users remained safe when accessing areas close to the stadium.
  • The area surrounding the Olympic Park suffers from socio-economic deprivation and low educational attainment among young people. To ensure that the local community felt the direct benefits of the stadium transformation, the team set up a highly successful apprenticeship and mentoring programme. These efforts were rewarded at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Apprenticeship Awards, where Balfour Beatty was awarded ‘Employer of the Year’ for its commitment to opening up opportunities for more than 40 young apprenticeships.
  • The site had a specific medical centre and a full-time nurse employed. It conducted voluntary blood tests for all employees to test for high cholesterol and diabetes, after it was identified that operatives were at higher risk of this disease.
  • There was a dedicated hotline for the workforce to discuss emotional or mental health issues.
  • A supply chain from the construction of the Aquatics Centre was re-employed for the stadium transformation where possible; knowledge sharing was therefore a significant component of on-site training, allowing the team to focus more time on specialised training.
  • The site team managed to acquire tickets for the workforce to attend rugby and games events.

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