How Mobile Welfare Units Can Help Kickstart Better Mental Health in the Construction Industry

Construction has a reputation for being tough, dangerous work. But as anyone with first-hand experience knows, it is not the physical impact of the job which most struggle with – it is the emotional one.

Mental health issues affect a staggering 83% of construction workers in the UK,¹ and should rightly be deemed a major workplace health crisis. But the combination of high-stress work and low job security – as well as a toxic workplace culture which emphasises stoicism over sharing – leads many to suffer in silence. 

Over two thirds of construction workers believe there’s a stigma surrounding mental health which stops them from talking about it,² and 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no policies on mental health in the workplace.³

Ultimately, men working in the industry are roughly four times more likely than average to take their own lives – and suicide is five times more prevalent than all other fatalities combined.

Welfare Hire is passionate about improving mental health in the construction industry, and in this article we explain why our mobile welfare units should be a vital component of any business’s attempts to do so.

Better mental health will transform construction

As Welfare Hire’s recent research showed, the construction industry has become sluggish in recent years, with low productivity and a growing trend of missed deadlines. But this may be more directly related to the mental health crisis than many assume.

Consider, for example, the economic effect of poor mental health support. Stress, anxiety, and depression account for one-fifth of work-related illnesses – leading to 70 million days of leave and costing an estimated annual cost of £70bn-£100bn. Improved mental health support would immediately reduce that cost, providing a much-needed boost to construction projects’ productivity and financial efficiency.

This is just one of many ways improving employee experience – by hiring better mobile welfare units – would lead to widespread improvements. Consider hiring difficulties, retention challenges, diversity problems and onsite communication – all would be vastly improved by a wholesale reevaluation of mental health support. And we believe that starts with the onsite environment.

The power of thinking small

Many businesses go wrong by trying to tackle the big picture problem head-on. But this overlooks the small wins available to them, and misunderstands the day-to-day experiences that cumulatively lead to mental health struggles.

A third of construction workers suffer from elevated levels of anxiety every day, and 44% feel their daily workload is too high. These are low-level concerns that ultimately grow into larger problems, especially when they are persistently underestimated or ignored.

Experts often suggest that construction workers need to be educated and encouraged to talk about their problems. But this overlooks the fact that most construction sites are extremely poor environments for such open communication – especially if you are not used to having such conversations.

How mobile welfare units help

Our business is explicitly designed to help businesses improve the way they treat their employees – by providing the physical comfort and space they need with a range of innovative mobile welfare units and welfare vans. 

Better mobile welfare units and welfare vans can combat this in two ways:

First, they provide the right atmosphere to have important conversations, providing respite from the loud and often intense construction environment. 

Second, they signal to workers that their mental health is being taken into account and supported. This encourages workers to feel safe opening up.The X-Eco10, for example, provides 20% more internal space than other mobile welfare units, enabling up to 10 people to rest at any given time. This can be a gamechanger in terms of employee wellbeing, providing a safe, private space where the complex and vital work of destigmatising mental health concerns can take place.


How Access Hire Keeps Customers Working

Kelling Group Safety Tips For Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms

Infrastructure output in the UK is set to increase by 8.8% this year – and a further 4.6% in 2023¹. But in order to keep pace with that growth, contractors must ensure they are not hit by unexpected delays.

According to research, large projects routinely take 20% longer than planned, with 69% of projects run over budget by more than 10%. And one of the most persistent causes of these problems is faulty equipment. 

From unexpected maintenance to failing motors, there are a range of problems, key assets like vehicle mounted access platforms routinely cause. But without the support of suppliers, contractors are helpless to prevent such setbacks. 

In this article, we explore three key factors that can ensure key equipment functions properly throughout a project:

1. Communication from suppliers

One third of project failure results from poor communication – including interactions with suppliers. Without consistent, transparent communication, contractors are left in the dark and issues with the equipment are not attended to quickly enough. 

This is a common fault with suppliers. In fact, the average B2B business scores less than 50% on the customer-experience index. But at Access Hire, we have made it our priority to change how things are done. 

We ensure key channels of communication are open at all times through our 24/7/365 operational support, meaning you can contact an expert advisor whenever you need to. And because we pride ourselves in hiring true industry experts, we are there to offer detailed strategic or technical advice that will help solve your problems faster.


2. Inclusive maintenance and support

Specialist equipment requires regular maintenance to ensure it stays operational.

Not only does this increase the likelihood of failure and delays, it hits your bottom line – as maintenance accounts for up to 30% of the total cost of a vehicle. Sourcing and paying experts is expensive, but entirely necessary to keep your project running.

Access Hire, however, undertakes regular planned maintenance on our entire fleet – to guarantee they are in top condition. Before delivering products, we undertake a rigorous 50-point inspection to certify they are in proper working order. As well as include breakdown and recovery as a standard, to ensure every one of our partners feels confident that any issues they face will be quickly resolved.

3. Seamless product delivery

Finally, strategic equipment like vehicle mounted access platforms need to actually arrive on your site when it is needed. Reliable delivery is not only important for keeping on schedule – it also enables a certain amount of flexibility, as you can more easily source extra equipment. 

This is where operating the country’s largest fleet comes in handy: we are able to deliver key strategic equipment across the UK. The result? Our clients are able to keep their site working and stay on schedule – always.


Access Hire Celebrates 15 Years Driving Industry Innovation

When Access Hire was founded in 2007, there was a clear strategic goal: to build a specialist, market-leading operation with the largest and most modern fleet, accompanied by the best-in-class service

As each new long-term customer partnership developed and became stronger, our fleet expanded. Access Hire’s focused approach has resulted in the business becoming the UK’s largest VMAP long-term hire and lease specialist.

This year marks 15 years since it all began. In recognition of that significant milestone, we wanted to take a look back at some of our key achievements.


Great products speak for themselves

Since the beginning, Access Hire has prided itself on continual investment and having the most modern and innovative fleet in the UK. This is proven by the fact that over the last 15 years, our fleet has grown from less than 100 vehicles to over 1,300 today, with an average age of fewer than 2.5 years. 

We have continually reinvested in improving our fleet and service. This has enabled us to deliver better, more reliable products for our clients consistently – and that level of quality simply does not go unnoticed.

We opt for high specification as standard for every single one of our clients, and provide 24/7 support across the entire hire.

And by augmenting our core van-mounted fleet with more specialised equipment (such as 4x4s and pole erection units), we can meet client’s needs across a wide range of sectors – from telecoms and local authorities to street lighting and power.

Here is our latest product review video of the 3.5t Renault Master.

Investing in people pays dividends

Throughout our journey, we have consistently put our people front and centre – whether that’s recruiting great employees and nurturing their talents, or building long-term relationships with our growing customer base.

We have always focused on being a true specialist in our chosen field, who can advise and help our clients. We are a specialist, not a generalist provider which affords our clients many benefits.

We are able to provide truly detailed, expert advice and support to our clients in many ways, including, inter alia, asset selection, the benefits of long-term hire vs lease, regulatory compliance, servicing and breakdown, and asset management. Our one-stop-shop, fully outsourced offering is unmatched, providing clients peace of mind and continuity of operations.


Innovation is never finished

The last few years have demonstrated that there is never a limit to innovation.

With the size of our fleet and workforce rapidly growing, the decision to move to a larger site was required to allow further growth.

This investment was made in 2018, through a new 50,000sq ft HQ and primary depot located in Normanton, surrounded by major transport links allowing for accurate and reliable nationwide deliveries.

By 2021, Access Hire boasted the country’s largest fleet of access vehicles and was widely seen as an industry leader in service and quality, and expertise for long-term VMAP hire.

This has been further augmented with the launch of Access Lease in 2021. Access Lease is a market-leading, fully inclusive, and maintained solution, allowing customers protection against financial uncertainty by locking into a long-term fixed price contract.

Thanks to our continuous investment resulting in a robust pipeline of new assets with agreed delivery times, our Access Lease proposition allows our customers to beat the current long lead times with access to brand-new, market-leading vehicles.

 Over the last twelve months, the company has added over 300 new vehicles to its fleet. As we continue to innovate and invest in our fleet, the total number in the fleet will grow to over 1,400 by the end of this year.

Never settle for second best

It has always been central to our ethos that truly great companies never compromise.

So, as we look back on everything we’ve achieved with our clients and within the Access team over the last 15 years we say thank you, and here is to making the next 15 even better!

Why Taking a Break Can Be the Best Thing For Employee Productivity

64% of construction workers want their employers to do more to support their mental health. But beyond simply hiring a mobile welfare unit, how can contractors ensure their people remain happy, healthy and productive?

A huge body of research suggests a simple answer: let them take proper breaks. From improved concentration and decision making to higher levels of wellbeing and happiness, regular rest on the job is essential.

The problem is, most leaders don’t know how to encourage break taking – and many see breaks as harmful to productivity.

In this article, we bust that myth, exploring why breaks matter – and how Welfare Hire’s mobile welfare units encourage their workers to take them.


When a person focuses on a single task for a prolonged period, their capacity to pay attention quickly depletes¹. They are more likely to make mistakes or bad decisions, and are generally less productive over an extended timeframe.

Breaks allow an individual to “reset”, regaining their focus and segmenting their day into more manageable chunks. This has been found to improve concentration², reduce stress³ and increase engagement. The net result is to actually improve productivity, especially when considered over a period of multiple days or weeks.

Perhaps most strikingly, regular breaks actually change the way people see their jobs. They are likely to see their role more positively when they are allowed to take regular breaks in a welfare van or unit, leading them to feel better about what they do and find more meaning in their work. This can be a profound shift, helping create a better on-site environment, improve retention and build a positive workplace culture.

Kelling Group Onsite Mental Health - Staff Welfare on Construction Sites

Getting the balance right

While breaks are important, they can also become counterproductive. One study pitches the maximum as 12%. Taking breaks that amount to more than this tends to have a negative effect on wellbeing and productivity – probably because inertia kicks in,  and workers simply want to stay relaxing in the mobile welfare unit.

This has led research to the concept of “microbreaks”: brief activities that break up the monotony of the day. This could be anything from a short chat with a coworker to making a coffee. The point is that the “microbreak” is separate from work – and something the person actively enjoys doing. 

Leaders that enable workers to take this sort of “microbreak” will benefit immeasurably – but how can they do that?

How Welfare Hire helps

At Welfare Hire, we include a welcome pack with every mobile welfare unit. It consists of basic daily amenities, like coffee cups, tea bags, and a delicious range of biscuits.  But the effect is surprisingly powerful. 

These amenities make for perfect “microbreaks” inside the welfare van or unit, and help your employees habituate healthy breaks. Simply making a cup of tea, eating a biscuit, or sitting for five minutes is all most people need to reset and refocus. And along with the kitchen facilities and a break-out room our portable welfare units provide, Welfare Hire’s welcome packs ensure you have everything needed to facilitate those breaks.

4. 5. 6.

Eco-friendly Welfare & Lighting Championed at Commonwealth Games

The prestigious 2022 Commonwealth Games have been heralded a huge success – and Welfare Hire has been privileged to support the event with our specialist ECO units.

Our involvement began during Birmingham’s preparations for the event.  The ambitious Sprint project is upgrading roadways to slash bus journey times and introducing zero-emission buses, creating a greener city.  Phase 1 was fast-tracked to be up and running for the Games, with up to 80 workers on site.  Welfare Hire’s units provided the most modern, comfortable facilities for them, while hitting the project’s sustainability targets. 

Our support continued throughout the event, with Welfare Hire’s eco lighting and welfare units proving the natural choice for an event with a stated aim of leaving ‘a carbon neutral legacy1.  Our products are powered by next-generation hybrid lithium and solar energy, reducing CO2 emissions and minimising fuel consumption, with no compromise on performance.

Welfare Hire units & lighting towers have supported the 2022 Commonwealth Games

Creating safe visitor spaces

With over 1.5 million spectator tickets sold over 11 days of events2 getting people to and from the Games efficiently was paramount for its smooth running.   Welfare Hire’s Hybrid Lithium Lighting Towers created safe, brightly-lit walkways and transport hubs for event visitors, with their super-bright performance.

In addition to event visitors, an army of more than 13,000 volunteer stewards needed to be catered for.  Welfare Hire’s ECOXLi welfare units were supplied to the temporary transport hubs for the marshals working there, providing them with the most comfortable, spacious and high-specification facilities.  These premium units achieved silent, green running with no associated operating costs.

Aaron Muir, organiser of the Park & Ride operations on behalf of Transport for West Midlands noted, “The solar panels have been a real added benefit.  They’ve kept the Lithium batteries topped up which has meant that we haven’t had to use the generators at all, so we’ve used zero fuel as a result.”

Units packed with innovative design

While the ECO welfare units deliver on sustainability and smart green technology, there are many other benefits from the modern, innovative design, including:

  • Large, comfortable canteen area, with plenty of ports for phone-charging
  • Well-laid out office
  • Higher quality and hygiene from the 2+1 water-flush toilets
  • Rainwater harvesting system to top up water tanks
  • Towable, agile units for easy location
  • Remote management of units using smart telemetry
  • Robust, durable build quality

Aaron has also commented on the exceptional service he has received from Welfare Hire, concluding, “The customer service and just the overall impression [from] Welfare Hire has been extremely positive.”

Learn more about our Welfare Units and Tower Lights here.

  1. Commonwealth Games: Paris 2024 Olympics ‘to learn from Birmingham’ on sustainability – BBC Sport
  2. The Guardian view on Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games: a bullish experience | Editorial | The Guardian

Tea Break with the Team – Meet Harry

To kick off our tea break with the team series, we had a chat with Harry Kidd, our recently promoted National Sales Manager. Harry looks after key accounts and works closely with the sales team to ensure everything sails smoothly.

Tell us a little bit about your role Harry

I have been with the company for around 2 years, starting as a business development manager. This role allowed me to work with clients all over the country in several different sectors. The responsibilities of the role included developing relationships with new and existing clients, putting me right in my element of getting out there and speaking to people!

I was very recently promoted to National Sales Manager; this new role includes managing key accounts and working closely with the sales team. I am very excited about this new challenge and can’t wait to get going!

What did you do before joining Access Hire?

I graduated from the University of Gloucestershire with a degree in sports science. However, I quickly changed my career path by going on a sales graduate scheme, allowing me to see how a business operates from every possible angle. Once I finished my scheme, I entered the hire industry, where I am today!

What do you enjoy most about working here?

Two things stand out to me. Firstly, it’s getting out there speaking to customers face-to-face, and building long-lasting relationships. The other is the team and culture of the company, it is an ever-growing, fast-paced environment meaning no two days are the same.

What do you like about what we do?

The willingness to provide the best possible service and quality of products makes it a privilege to work for the company. Knowing that the company is always heavily investing in improving the fleet and overall service makes speaking to customers very enjoyable as I can be upfront and honest at all times.

What do you do in your free time?

I play rugby league semi-professionally for the Dewsbury Rams, regularly play golf, and support Leeds United.

Tell us something we don’t know about you

I once met and sang with Paul McCartney in Paros, Greece!

Tea Break with the Team – Meet Kenny

Meet the Kelling Team

Next up in our tea break with the team series, we caught up with Kenny, our Depot Manager based in Huntingdon. Kenny ensures the smooth running of all aspects of the depot, looking after staff and their wellbeing.

Tell us about your goals when you joined here

To provide as high quality and efficient workmanship as I possibly could, with the aim of being recognised as a hardworking, responsible, and loyal individual by the company.

You’ve had quite a varied career before joining us, could you tell us a bit about your background before your career at Welfare Hire Nationwide

I was self-employed for 16 years and this is my first full time “on the books job” since making the decision to be employed. I ran a pub and internet café for seven years and before that my background was IT, running my own business for nine years.

What training and development have you had?

I have done a 3yr apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering and after a few years I decided I wanted a new career, so I did another apprenticeship in I.T. Computing & Networks.

What do you like about what we do?

I love our brand and product; we are always a cut above the rest and introducing great new ideas. Welfare Hire Nationwide is a great team to belong to.

How would you describe working here?

I enjoy having the day-to-day challenges and I feel lucky to have such great support from the company in all areas.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

I enjoy travelling. Whether it is to other countries or just within the UK, there is so much to see. But when the weather is nice and sunny you can’t beat a coastal ride on the motorbike.

Tell us something we wouldn’t know about you

When I was about 27 years old I had the chance to tender and win the job of wiring 215 data points in the House of Lords. It was amazing being in and out of all the small places where Guy Fawkes would have been.