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Challenges to ensure safe Olympic Games

Challenges to ensure safe Olympic Games
With all eyes set to be on London in July as the Olympic Games gets underway, the measures to ensure that the event passes off without incident or disruption are ever more important.

Many organisations have already begun outlining the logistical challenges that are ahead from freight services and spectators travelling to the Stratford Olympic Village.

While the construction of the stadium has been heralded as an overwhelming success, the battle is just beginning to ensure that everything runs smoothly when the curtain is raised signalling the start of the Games. Transport for London (TfL) has become integral to preparing motorists and freight companies that will need to use the capital's roads around the Games site when the events get underway.

While the likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farrah will be going through the final stages of their training in preparation for their specifics events, the TfL has the task of ensuring that health and safety is kept to a premium, not only around the stadium but also out of the confines and in the capital.

The TfL's flagship scheme to make sure that there is quick and easy traffic around the Games site is by introducing the Olympic Road Network (ORN). Officials have looked to the likes of Greece which implemented a similar method to relieve potential logistical problems when the Olympics was staged in Athens in 2004.

Both the ORN and Paralympic Road Network (PRN) have been specially designed by the TfL to ensure that all athletes, trainers, media officials and Olympic-related delivery services get to the park on time and with minimal fuss. The TfL has designated routes that will be used for traffic heading to the Games.

A section of London's roads will be subject to certain lanes which will only be allowed for use by Olympic traffic and, as with Greece in 2004 and also Beijing in 2008, will be restricted from public use while the Games are taking place. Transport chiefs have warned those using the lanes during the active hours they will face a penalty fine.

The TfL's guidelines stated: "If you drive, changes to parking, loading and stopping restrictions along the ORN/PRN mean you may not be able to use or stop on some of your usual roads, lanes or turns.

"To keep traffic moving on the ORN/PRN, vehicles using suspended parking or loading bays are likely to be towed or receive a Penalty Charge Notice."

Maintaining the ORN is key for the TfL and every check must be carried out prior to the beginning of the Games as the world will be watching, and with thousands descending upon the English capital, keeping spectators safe is the top priority for the organisation.

In April, the Boston Manor Viaduct which carries the M4 motorway, a key part of the ORN, was found to have 15mm long hairline cracks and was subject to urgent inspections. The Highways Agency dropped the weight restriction of the bridge and diverted any heavy goods vehicles on different routes while they firstly assessed the damage and then began to carry out repair work to ensure that the key bridge is ready in time for the beginning of the Games in July.

While the ORN represents a major challenge in the future safety of those attending the Games, the country's landmark Olympic Stadium was recently commended for its commitment to safety as it was bestowed with an award. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was presented with presented with Diamond Jubilee Award by theRoyal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have completing the construction of the Olympic Stadium without any fatalities.

The safety record of the showcase ground and the Olympic Village have been described as "impressive" and when compared to previous campaigns the construction of London's Games site has been highly commended. Following the end of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Chinese government admitted that there had been six deaths during the construction of the stadium.

However, the UK's project was hailed as highly successful as even when the Big Build hit its peak staff numbers of 12,500, there was still not a single fatality, and it had an accident frequency rate of 0.17 per 100,000 hours of work.

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive of RoSPA, said: "The ODA's approach to occupational health in particular, provides a shining example that the construction industry at large could learn from and follow.

"In addition, the fact that the Big Build was completed without an accident-related fatality is tribute to the leadership and organisation of the ODA in the most testing operational conditions. We hope it will be a foretaste of a wonderful summer of celebration for our country."

The Olympics will be the biggest event the country has seen since Manchester hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games or when England was home to the European Championships in 1996, and the safety measures that have gone into making this an enjoyable event for all concerned will be worthwhile once it is all over in August.

Usain Bolt will undoubtedly have his mind on other things, but the fact that he gets to the Olympic Stadium on time will all be down to the hard work of those improving safety of London's showcase event.

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Date: 25/05/2012 14:57:03

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