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Health & Safety At The Rio Olympic Games

Posted: 24/08/2016

The Olympics have just come to a close and there are have been many concerns voiced about the health and safety standards that organisers have adhered to over the past few years – which should serve as a warning to anyone organising an event of a similar scale that they need to consider all possibilities and carry out risk assessments on a regular basis.

Before the Games even started, there were issues where health and safety was concerned. The London Olympics was one of the safest Games ever to have been held (with an injury rate of 0.17 per 100,000 man hours on site), but between January 2013 and March this year in Rio, 11 workers died during construction of facilities or Olympic-related projects. These fatalities occurred for numerous reasons, from falling scaffolding and vehicles overturning to electric shocks.

And now that the Games have got underway, issues have been constantly reported on by the press. For example, the main ramp of the sailing port collapsed into the sea on July 31st, just days before the opening ceremony, because of high tides and stormy conditions at sea. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident, but it has increased the levels of concern regarding health and safety at Olympic venues.

Not only that, but the cycling course has also come under fire over the last couple of days after a series of horrific crashes led spectators and others to suggest that it was simply unsafe for cyclists to undertake. Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten – who had been ahead of the pack in the women’s road race – saw her hopes of Olympic gold dashed after a horror crash saw her end up in hospital with concussion and a spine fractured in three places. And Australian cyclist Richie Porte sustained a broken scapula after coming off his bike as well.

The UCI, cycling’s world governing body, has since come out to defend the course, saying that it was designed carefully and extensively tested both in training and at the test event. Chris Boardman, Olympic gold medallist, however wrote on the BBC website: “I’m actually quite angry about it because I looked at the road furniture and thought, ‘nobody can crash here and get up’. This was way past technical, this was dangerous, and it means people who designed the course have seen it and left it. I’m angry about it because I went down there and had a look at the course and saw those edges. We knew this was way past being technical, this was dangerous.”

Given the scope of the Olympic project, you’d expect that health and safety would be at the forefront of organisers’ minds. If you need help with emergency preparedness and response, no matter what you’re organising, call us here at HFR Solutions CIC to discuss how we can help mitigate the risks your organisation faces.