By JR on Sunday, April 01, 2012
As a lifetime lover of porridge, I am delighted to pass on this story
The 80,000-seater stadium and the 2,818 flats built for the Olympic Village in Stratford, east London, were constructed by a workforce who lived on 'takeaways', according to Olympic chiefs.
It was only during construction that bosses from the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) realised that a staggering number of the 12,000 builders working on the Olympic showpiece were living an 'unhealthy lifestyle' and that many were significantly overweight.
Lawrence Waterman, head of health and safety for the ODA, revealed the statistics at a health and safety conference hosted by the Police Federation last week.
He revealed statistics from an occupational health report which showed that 28 per cent of the 12,000 builders - that's 3,360 - at the Olympic Park were classed as 'obese'.
The report also revealed that 41 per cent of the workforce - a staggering 4,920 - were overweight and that 3,500 - 29 per cent - had high blood pressure.
He said that accidents were being caused by workers skipping breakfast after indulging in fatty takeaways the night before - leaving them 'desperate' for something to eat by lunchtime.
The conference heard how accidents at the massive 500-acre site 'peaked' in the one-hour period before lunch as workers' minds were on what they were having for lunch rather than on the job in hand.
Mr Waterman said that as soon as bosses at the ODA realised how unhealthy the workers were they started offering bowls of porridge for just £1 to workers so they got a 'healthy start to the day'.
He stated in his report: "They (the workers) were coming into work for three hours suffering really low blood sugar. "We had canteens offering porridge for a £1 and accidents in the morning went down."
The campaign encouraging workers to tuck into porridge even had a poster showing Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher in the hit 1970s sitcom Porridge telling them to ditch fry ups and choose as 'quick, healthier and inexpensive' breakfast.
One 41-year-old worker, who did not want to be named, said today (Tue): "A lot of the lads on the site were pretty big. "Builders are known for their love of fry-ups and fast food - it comes as part of the job really - but nobody realised quite how unhealthy most of us were."
The 40-year-old worker - who admitted that he was overweight - added: "Lots of us ended up eating porridge in the morning to see us through to lunchtime and I must admit it did work. "Before that we couldn't stop thinking about what we were having for lunch."
The Olympic Stadium was completed last year and in January this year the Olympic Village was handed over from the ODA to the London 2012 Organising Committee for the finishing touches to be made before the event kicks-off in July.
An Olympic Delivery Authority spokesman said: “The health and safety of our workforce has always been our top priority. While regular surveys highlighted obesity levels no higher than the UK average, we offered healthy breakfasts to the workforce at a reduced price in order to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day, particularly for those skipping breakfast.
"The result was better diets, lower accident rates and a general boost to health. Our health and safety record is excellent, with 125 reportable injuries across more than 80 million man hours worked – the best ever achieved on a major UK construction project.”