28 Feb Safety in the Snow
Safety in the Snow – Ensuring the Smooth Running of the 2018 Winter Olympics
For the first time in Olympics history, a single broadcaster – Discovery Eurosport – has the rights to air the Games in almost 50 European countries, including exclusive online streaming, in a diverse region where rights to major sports events are usually split up by country. As well as producing the coverage in multiple languages, the broadcasting challenge also included one of the coldest Games in living memory with temperatures occasionally dropping to -31 degrees centigrade,; the threat of norovirus,; respecting cultural sensibilities,; and local safety legislation which often differed significantly from EU standards.: All of this which represented both a potential health and safety nightmare, and an ideal challenge for risk management.
As a spectacular event drawing in millions of viewers from across the globe, the primary objective was to ensure that the 1,000 plus crew and talent onsite could deliver great national stories in the safest, healthiest and securest environment possible. We approached this through a variety of methods, from strenuous health & safety timeline planning to extensive coordination with key parties such as POCOG (organising committee) and OBS (host broadcaster).
The first priority was staff management. Without proper information and preparation even the best plan in the world can’t make a difference if people aren’t prepared to execute it properly, so we had to deal with this at both pre-travel stage and as soon as when the crews arrived.
“Our health and safety programme prioritised preparation and communication leading up to the Olympic Winter Games. Before our crew travelled from all parts of the world, we made it a priority to deliver key health & safety information in the form of a training video and written guide which were accessible online.
It was equally important for us to engage with our crew when they first arrived onsite which we did by delivering in person Health & Safety inductions to introduce site rules and reinforce our various key messages.’ Jeanell English, Senior Manager, Olympic Resource Operations, Discovery | Eurosport
Our safety briefings were invaluable in preparing our teams for the challenges ahead. This was paired with a comprehensive risk management plan involving venue safety walk-rounds, poster campaigns, information bulletins, fire warden training, incident investigation, and a weekly update report to the senior management team. We also kept a running “tracker list” of all raised issues. Combined with constant coordination with venue management, this allowed everyone involved to see what had been done so far and what had yet to be solved.
By the end of the Games, we delivered a successful and innovative product to the European market that featured 900 hours of live coverage and 4,000 hours in total via Discovery Eurosport’s TV channels and streaming service. For those 1,000 plus people who made all this this possible, it was a major achievement that not one of them was significantly harmed, injured or made seriously ill throughout the whole experience. It requires a huge amount of teamwork and planning effort to deliver a successful project of this scale and complexity, and the health and safety function, alongside the medical and security support provided, proved to be an important and integral part of the whole process.