Five Key Challenges For Highways In 2022 and Beyond

The UK’s Highways sector is one of its most vital and valuable assets. But from improving safety to delivering on climate targets, the sector faces a number of challenges.

As a proud supplier to many key highways projects, we explore five key trends in this article that will define the highways sector over the next year and beyond.

1. Project delays

A combination of planning delays and a pause on the roll out of smart motorways has led a large number of National Highway’s enhancement projects to be at risk of being deferred or dropped. According to Highways Magazine, the percentage of schemes at risk of missing an SOW commitment increased from 9% in 2020 to 22% last year.¹.

How these delays are resolved is unclear, but it will undoubtedly place pressure on National Highways to demonstrate its ability to deliver; the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) has warned that the company must prove it has “robust risk mitigations” in place.²

2. New safety recommendations

Road accidents are said to cost the UK economy and NHS £30 billion each year.³ And while lockdowns brought about a large decrease in the number of accidents on the UK’s roads, recently published numbers have shown a return to pre-pandemic rates.

The government has responded with the launch of The Road Safety Investigation Branch, which will provide independent recommendations on how the country’s roads could be made safer and incorporate new technology more effectively. This will likely spur on many high-value projects in the coming years, requiring innovative mobile welfare units.

3. Innovative technology

At the beginning of 2022, the UK government announced that no more all-lane running smart motorways would be built until the concept’s safety could be proven. This dealt a real blow to those who had claimed digital technology would transform roads in the coming years. But there is still reason to expect digital to be a significant part of future projects.

One key way technology will be used in highways moving forward is through design and maintenance. National Highways is already looking to leverage digital to produce a safer and more efficient construction process. The result may be a very large improvement in the output of the sector.

4. The rise of social values

Most industries have seen an awakening on issues of social justice in recent years. The highways sector is no different, and we are just beginning to see how this will be realised in the coming years.

National Highways recently published its Social Value Plan, which outlines how the company will support positive social change. This speaks to a larger trend, where highways businesses race to show their progress in relation to social values and local councils increasingly factor social value into their procurement decisions¹.

To promote diversity, companies in the sector should consider ways to improve on-site welfare. Providing their workers with innovative mobile welfare units that provide space and comfort will help improve morale and encourage employment interest from a broader range of talent.

5. Reducing carbon emissions

In July 2021, the UK government published its Transport Decarbonisation Plan¹¹ – a guide to helping the country’s transport networks meet net zero targets. From embracing electric vehicles (EVs) to encouraging the use of public transport, this will be a defining challenge for the highways sectors in the coming decade. 

For industry contractors, this is more than just an indication of the kinds of projects they will be working on; it is also a call to arms for them to reduce their own emissions. 

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently argued that fleets played a vital role in overarching net zero efforts. While road vehicles produce more than 90% of emissions, there is still an urgent need for strategic equipment such as mobile welfare units and mobile welfare vans to be as eco-friendly as possible¹².

As net zero deadlines grow closer, contractors may be able to improve their chances of landing valuable contracts by introducing more environmentally friendly equipment – such as hybrid-powered mobile welfare units. This will involve ensuring they have the right supplier partnerships in place to source such vehicles.

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Investment announced for dedicated service in Scotland

Welfare Hire Nationwide (“Welfare Hire”) is expanding its depot network further by making an investment in Scotland with a new depot in the central belt, along with a new dedicated Scottish team.

Welfare Hire is part of the Kelling Group, the UK’s largest provider of highly ECO efficient Welfare products and Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms. The Group has over 3,500 assets, with an average age of less than 2.5 years and commits over £30m in investment to new equipment annually.

“This investment demonstrates our commitment to the Scottish market as part of our long-term growth strategy. We look forward to working even closer with our existing clients and for new clients to experience our market leading products and service” said Stephen Moore, Group CEO.

“Our current customers in Scotland are familiar with the high standards we work to.  As part of this operational expansion, investing in a Scottish team based locally will improve on this even further,” stated Chris Brown, Group Operations Director.

Lauren Thomson has joined the team as Regional Sales Manager and is on hand to support existing and new clients locally.

The centrally located depot will supply Welfare Hire’s market leading mobile ECO welfare units, welfare vans and eco tower lights to sectors such as rail, highways, utilities and construction. 

The Scottish depot will also conduct Welfare Hire’s rigorous 67-point quality check, which is carried out on every Welfare Hire unit ahead of each and every job.  This bespoke and unparalleled quality assurance regime ensures consistently high standards and service for the largest and most modern ECO fleet in the market.

“With this investment we can better support infrastructure construction work around core sectors, including Scotland’s current Infrastructure Investment Programme,” explained Andy Grayshon, Commercial Director.  “Our products create the highest-level working environment for site setup needed in construction and infrastructure development.  As modern towable units, with low cost and low carbon transport and maintenance, our mobile eco units can be used in remote and rural areas, where much of the development is due to take place.

“In addition, our products incorporate the latest green technology and smart innovations, so they fit perfectly with our clients’ drive toward net zero emissions.”

For enquiries within Scotland, please contact Lauren Thomson on 07929 666831 or at

For more information about Welfare Hire’s products: Mobile Welfare Unit Hire | Towable Welfare Units & Welfare Vans | Kelling (

Four Best Vehicle Mounted Access Platform Practices To Improve Your Worksite Safety

Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms (VMAPs) are essential for most infrastructure projects, enabling you to work at heights safely. But in order to make the most of them, contractors must ensure their workers know exactly how to operate their equipment. 

As market leading providers of Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms for hire and lease, we at Access Hire feel a duty to help our partners make the most of their vehicles. That’s why we created this instructional video for the 5.2T – 14.5M VMAP:

Following these best practices will improve your worksite in at least four ways:

1. Prevent damage and malfunction

Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms need to be carefully maintained to avoid damage or malfunction. If the vehicle is compromised, it can result in delays to your project and repair costs that eat into your budget.

The best way to keep your vehicles in proper condition is following a careful series of checks on each Vehicle Mounted Access Platform before using it. This will ensure the vehicle and platform operate correctly and are safe for use. Here at Access Hire, vehicles go through a rigorous 50-point pre-delivery inspection ensuring your vehicle arrives road-ready.


2. Keep workers safe

Onsite safety is a huge priority for any contractor – especially when employees are working at heights. Following correct operating procedures is vital to ensure both those operating the vehicle and those in the basket remain safe and secure at all times.

The operator of a Vehicle Mounted Access Platform is responsible for carrying out a full risk assessment before, during and after use. They should also undertake daily checks before usage; deploy stabiliser legs correctly; ensure anybody using the platform wears a safety harness; and be fully aware of all emergency procedures, to ensure they are able to quickly resolve any issues during operation.

3. Avoid worksite accidents

Worksites can be busy, stressful environments, and without proper safety precautions moving vehicles can be a serious safety hazard. That is why anybody operating a Vehicle Mounted Access Platform has a duty to continually check their surroundings for hazards, as well as assessing the ground conditions.

Not only will this keep those outside of the vehicle safe from harm; it will ensure the whole site is able to operate more smoothly.

4. Improves efficiency of work

When you are on a tight budget and deadline, even minor faults can cause significant difficulties. But from platform malfunction to miscommunication, issues around the operation of strategic equipment are a common cause of delays on infrastructure worksites.

Following a clear set of shared best practices ensures your Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms operate smoothly. This means each task is completed as quickly and effectively as possible – keeping you on schedule.

Learn more with Access Hire

At Access Hire, we provide the UK’s largest and most modern fleet of Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms. But we don’t stop at the point of delivery.

Instead, we are dedicated to ensuring our partners’ projects are successful. That is why we include 24/7 support with every vehicle and offer expert advice about the safe and proper operation of your fleet.

Reach out today to discover how our service could help improve your worksite.

Why Good Lighting Is Vital For Work Site Safety

When we think of health and safety on a construction site, most people picture hardhats and high-viz vests. But there is another key factor that keeps workers safe every day on site – and that is good quality light.

Lighting towers are not just vital for working during the darker months of the year; they form an essential part of any serious health and safety plan. From increased visibility to reduced eye strain, good-quality lighting towers are a non-negotiable asset for any project.

That is why Welfare Hire is so proud of our innovative range of lighting towers. They improve on-site safety in three clear ways:

1. Awareness of hazards

Improving the quality of lighting in a workspace has been proven to reduce accidents by 52%.¹ With more light – and less glare – workers can see exactly what they’re doing, so there is less chance they will trip or fall.

They can properly assess hazards or risks, which is particularly crucial when working in dangerous situations – such as operating heavy machinery or working at heights. And oncoming traffic and pedestrians can see clearly that they are entering a construction zone.

2. cognitive load

Poor lighting forces workers to strain their eyes, which can cause long-term harm to their sight. Workers have to make an effort to see what’s going on, which takes focus away from the task at hand. This often results in accidents or errors that can be costly or dangerous.

These problems are collectively known as ‘increased cognitive load’. Research has proven that poor lighting lowers cognitive performance.² So if lighting is poor or inconsistent, your workforce is constantly distracted. It’s the equivalent of asking them to do brain teasers while they work.

3. Wellbeing and health

Increased cognitive load ultimately impacts the mental and physical health of workers. Having to strain to see – or constantly experiencing glare – can cause headaches and increase stress.

This is borne out by evidence: studies have shown that better lighting can reduce the number of sick days employees take and increase output.² With better lighting towers, workers are therefore not only safer – they feel better, are less likely to be absent and are ultimately more productive.

How welfare hire can help

Welfare Hire’s range of innovative lighting towers are not only environmentally friendly – they are a vital health and safety resource. 

Each tower is capable of lighting half a football field, providing enough illumination for the toughest projects. And each of the tower’s six light heads can be individually positioned to ensure optimum light to every area. 

They are the perfect solution for any contractor looking to increase their onsite safety and invest in the best quality equipment for their teams. And with 99.1% perfect hires, we provide a seamless, market-leading service that will make the transition fast and easy.


Welfare Hire signs up to cleaner working environments

Welfare Hire has become one of just 12 signatories to a new Plant Commitment Charter created by the Supply Chain Sustainability School (the School).

The Charter was developed to encourage the construction sector to commit to key sustainability goals, including improving air quality and reducing greenhouse emissions, which together will result in a cleaner working environment.

Each signatory provides evidence to the School of its progress regarding measurement & reporting, engagement, training & education and innovation, to demonstrate their commitment.

Andy Grayshon, Commercial Director, commented “As a specialist supplier in ECO mobile welfare & lighting, we are delighted to align with the Supply Chain Sustainability School in an area we are passionate about.

“Welfare Hire have continually invested in high-level innovation with a track record in providing industry-first eco products and solutions. We will continue to champion this to help partners accelerate delivery of their carbon and wider ESG goals and welcome the opportunity to support the plant charter.”

Welfare Hire is one of 12 organisations from a wide range of suppliers who have signed up to the Charter: Advanté, BAM Group, Cheetham Hill Construction, Costain, EKFB, Flannery, GAP Group, Hercules Site Services, M O’Brien Group, Morgan Sindall and Select Plant Hire.

The School was established 10 years ago to drive sustainable change in the construction industry by improving knowledge at all levels of the sector.  Welfare Hire is a Gold partner of the School and signed up along with partners, including BAM, Costain, EKFB and Morgan Sindall.

More about the Supply Chain Sustainability School

More about the Plant Commitment Charter

Welfare Hire unit creates safe space for women in Wakefield

Police in Wakefield have launched a new ‘Safe Space’ initiative in partnership with the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Wakefield District Council and third sector partners – using one of Welfare Hire’s welfare units as a base.

The unit is located in the centre of the city, amongst its bars and clubs, and will be staffed by police officers, local authority employees and others from 8pm to 4am every Friday and Saturday night.

The initiative, which has been funded through the Mayoral led Safer Streets Fund for the next 12 months, aims to offer reassurance to the public through expert advice and support from a trained police officer, who can also deal with any ongoing criminal investigations.

Sergeant Graeme Dent of West Yorkshire Police explained, “This Safe Space has been set up as part of our commitment under the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy to ensure that women and girls in West Yorkshire not only are safe but that they also feel safe.

“We want everyone to be able to safely enjoy the varied nightlife that Wakefield has to offer. The Safe Space will not be exclusive and if anyone feels unsafe or needs assistance from police or other agencies, we want them to know that this is a safe place that they can go to.”

“The Wakefield Safe Space is a great initiative that Welfare Hire Nationwide is proud to support.  Contributing to the safety of women and girls improves their wellbeing, which is one of our core company values.  It’s a good opportunity to help out our local community, close to our Headquarters,” commented Andy Grayshon, Welfare Hire’s Commercial Director.

The Safe Space is located in one of Welfare Hire’s ECO 7+ welfare units, with plenty of space to sit down and talk over any issues that the vulnerable person is experiencing.  Other facilities within the unit include tea and coffee, blankets, phone chargers and first aid equipment.

Learn more about our Welfare Units and Tower Lights here.

How Leasing Access Vehicles Can Help Improve Your Budgeting

Staying on budget is one of the biggest challenges construction and infrastructure projects face. 

Recent studies have found that 85% of all construction projects experienced cost overruns¹, with the average project exceeding its budget by a minimum of 16%² – and the majority overrunning by 28%³.

While there are multiple factors that cause budget problems, a major contributor is the cost of strategic equipment and vehicles, such as vehicle mounted access platforms (VMAPs).

In this article, we explore how leasing these vehicles can provide greater financial control and help projects stay on budget.

How does leasing work?

Leasing is the perfect alternative to buying access vehicles. Many contractors don’t want to tie up their working capital to buy top-quality access vehicles outright.  Access Lease provides a cost-effective way of sourcing the latest vehicles on a fully maintained basis. 

With fixed monthly payments – including no hidden fees – contractors can lease innovative, market-leading vehicle mounted access platforms whilst simultaneously protecting themselves from financial uncertainty.

The ways leasing improves your bottom line

1. Spread costs and improve cash flow

The leasing model allows contractors to spread the cost of their vehicles over a fixed period of months, resulting in more affordable, individual payments. When comparing leasing to loan repayments on the same asset, monthly payments could be reduced by as much as 50%.

The fixed monthly payments are predictable and clear, enabling you to create a long-term budget without constantly adjusting to fit unexpected hiring and maintenance costs.

2. Tax savings

84% of businesses are currently transforming their tax and financial operating model to make savings. Leasing enables this, because contractors can generally deduct the full lease rental cost from their taxable income – or claim capital allowances on the asset cost. 

This makes leasing more financially efficient and helps contractors make their limited budget go further.

3. Inclusive maintenance and support

Maintenance is often undervalued in contractors’ budgets, yet it actually accounts for up to 30% of the total cost of a vehicle. 

Leasing with Access Lease comes with inclusive maintenance and 24/7 support, meaning we take away all the headaches of ownership – from breakdowns, replacement vehicles, LOLERs, MOTs, servicing, and specific asset advice. It also reduces the likelihood of on-site breakdowns, as vehicles are rigorously tested before being delivered to the site and fully maintained to the highest of standards. 

To discover how leasing our vehicles could help you, reach out to us today.