Why Improving Air Quality On Construction Sites Starts With Equipment

Construction has an air quality problem. While 97% of people said that air quality is an “extremely or very important environmental health concern”, research shows that construction sites are responsible for 23% of all air pollution

But how can leaders solve this problem? And what role does equipment – like innovative mobile welfare units – have to play?

Grey diamond shaped icon with a green arrow point down, with the words CO2 in the middle

The problem is getting worse

Despite great efforts made by the industry, construction and manufacturing’s share of carbon emissions has actually increased in recent years relative to other sectors. Leaders need to see air quality and sustainability as inherently linked: reducing their emissions should go hand-in-hand with improving air quality. But this is where things get difficult.

Image of a line of large yellow trucks leaving a muddy site, close up

Why does construction struggle?

Many people assume the air quality problems produced by construction sites are the result of dust from activities like demolition but this actually accounts for around 1% of sites’ air pollution. Most air quality problems are a direct result of the machinery used onsite – diesel diggers, generators and the like. Construction businesses need to find newer, greener energy sources – such as innovative mobile welfare units or eco-friendly lighting towers.

But in most cases, replacing this equipment is perceived as difficult. While a majority of construction professionals say they have the information and skills to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, fewer said they had the necessary tools.

Image of an EcoXli Welfare Unit on site

Welfare Hire provides the tools you need

At Welfare Hire, we believe it is the duty of suppliers to help construction reach its sustainability goals. That is why we’ve invested so heavily in hybrid-powered mobile welfare units and lighting towers. And it is why we recently joined the Plant Commitment Charter.

The Plant Commitment Charter was created by the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS) to encourage suppliers in the construction sector to commit to key sustainability goals. As one of just 21 signatories, we have committed to provide evidence of our progress regarding measurement and reporting; engagement; training and education; and innovation. This is all based on standards the SCSS has developed. 

Ultimately, we believe these kinds of external commitments are essential to improve our industry. Not only do they ensure we are held to a high standard; they will help us deliver a better service to our partners, and provide the tools they need to create a cleaner working environment that maintains air quality.

Access Hire Industry Insights: Four Key Trends for Telecommunications in 2023

Telecommunications is one of the UK’s most essential and fastest growing industries. But innovation has often been slowed by legacy infrastructure that is massively outdated and complex.

In the coming years, we will see these challenges finally resolved. The UK government has earmarked £5 billion for “Project Gigabit” – its attempt to ensure the expansion of high-quality broadband into hard-to-reach areas¹ – as well as a slew of further investments to promote innovation and security in the sector. 

Some estimate the cumulative impact of these projects could result in a £120 billion boost to the UK economy over the coming 15 years². Value will be produced at every step of the process, from hiring innovative access platforms to creating thousands of new jobs. 

In this report, we explore four key trends that will drive this growth in 2023.

Four telecoms trends in 2023

1. The 5G rollout

The expansion of 5G networks will accelerate during 2023, with EE claiming it will deliver 5G to 90% of the UK’s geographic area by 2028³. This looks increasingly plausible: UK comms regulator Ofcom says the number of 5G base stations in the UK doubled in 2021, with coverage now between 67-77% (up from 42-57% last year), – and we should expect this number to grow rapidly. 

Much of this is thanks to the Government’s £200 million 5G Testbed and Trials programme. The government has made clear its intention to make the 5G roll out as widespread and impactful as possible – largely by “cutting red tape” to enable innovation. This includes simple factors like increasing competition, as well as more “out there” proposals, such as using “Street furniture” like lampposts as 5G towers.

Not only does 5G offer increased speed, reduced latency and greater reach – there are clear ESG benefits too. It is up to 90% more efficient than 4G in terms of energy consumption per unit of traffic (W/Mbps), and the ongoing rollout could produce huge energy gains across the country’s telecoms infrastructure.

But this is where the 5G rollout gets more complex

The reality is, providers will not be relying on 5G any time soon. Despite the rollout, networks will still need a robust 4G infrastructure for many years. While Vodafone will phase out 3G in 2023, it will continue to simultaneously invest in its 4G infrastructure – however fast 5G access expands.

Equally, 5G is not the only type of network most want access to. 45% of enterprise businesses are concurrently testing or deploying Wi-Fi 6 and 5G for their advanced wireless initiatives. Indeed, a recent Deloitte survey found that fully 98% of respondents expected their organisation would be using both technologies within two years. 

Perhaps tellingly, countries that report the highest levels of 5G pilots and deployments also report the highest levels of WI-FI 6 pilots.¹⁰

2. Major fibre projects

In September 2022, CityFibre announced that its full fibre infrastructure project –  in partnership with Vodafone – had been successfully deployed by more than two million homes.¹¹ But this is just the start. CityFibre expects the project to see full fibre-optic broadband deployed in 8 million homes by 2025 – creating 4,000 jobs in the process.¹² 

There is competition though. In may December 2022, Openreach announced 12 new locations where it plants to deliver gigabit-capable technology – with plans to reach 4 million new homes each year. Virgin Media soon followed suit, announcing its intention to upgrade its entire fixed network to full fibre by 2028.

These projects will be highly complex, requiring powered access equipment to successfully deploy the necessary infrastructure. But the net result will be a huge increase in both supply and demand. 

A report from the FTTH Council Europe predicted the total number of fibre subscriptions in the UK to increase to 18.5 million by 2026, with the overall penetration of fibre reaching 63.1%.¹³

Are targets too ambitious?

While the above figures are promising, the infrastructure required for such coverage will not be easy – requiring much strategic and technical support. The UK government has found this out the hard way. In a recent report, they were forced to break their manifesto pledge to achieve nationwide fibre coverage by 2025 – with the date now moved back to 2030.¹⁴

3. Reinforcing telecoms security

Following the passage of the Telecommunications Security Act last year, we should expect increased efforts to reinforce the security and safety of the UK’s telecoms networks. With increasingly powerful connectivity, the dangers of cyber attacks have intensified. Both the UK government and private companies are highly incentivised to ensure networks are maximally robust.

There will also be an important balance to strike between increasing security and ensuring efficient competition. The government has launched a £250 million initiative to build more competitive, innovative and diverse supply chains – reducing the reliance on a small handful of massive equipmark firms.¹⁵ However, this may create conflict between providers’ desire for security and their desire for economic efficiency.

The government has already enshrined a law to strip out ‘high-risk’ suppliers’ tech from networks,¹⁶ which will have a huge impact on security. But actioning this may not be so simple. BT has estimated that it will take 5 years and £500 million to remove Huawei technology from its networks.¹⁷


4. Focus on values

Overall, network performance is improving. Broadband and mobile complaints are down despite increased usage,¹⁸ and the various projects we’ve discussed thus far show how the telecoms sector is innovating. But that does not mean providers are safe from competition. 

64% of consumers are likely to switch phone providers within the next three years if telecoms don’t invest and act fast.¹⁹ This means there is growing pressure on companies to innovate -and clear rewards for those that are able to do so fast.

In the coming year and beyond, we expect to see telecom companies looking to go beyond providing great service. They will increasingly have to position themselves as adding extra value beyond the traditional bounds of telecoms – and this will ramp up significantly throughout 2023.

BT is a prime example: they recently declared that they would only back “responsible tech” in the future, with an emphasis on climate change, diversity and inclusions.²⁰ This will run through their entire business, informing everything from the access platforms they lease to their commitment to a circular economy model.

While other businesses may take differing approaches, the takeaway is clear: telecoms companies must increasingly be more than just telecoms companies in order to survive.

8. https://telecoms.com/513093/vodafone-uk-will-start-switching-off-3g-next-year/
9. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/tw/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/rp20211228-2022-tmt-trend.pdf
10. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/tw/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/rp20211228-2022-tmt-trend.pdf
11. https://cityfibre.com/news/cityfibre-network-passes-2-million-homes-on-its-march-toward-8-million
12. https://news.yahoo.com/openreach-creates-4-000-jobs-000324197.html
13. https://www.ftthcouncil.eu/knowledge-centre/all-publications-and-assets/246/ftth-forecast-for-europe-market-forecasts-2021-2026
14. https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/uk-government-pushes-back-full-fibre-coverage-target-to-2030
15. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/5g-supply-chain-diversification-strategy/5g-supply-chain-diversification-strategy
16. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252509705/UK-government-enshrines-law-to-strip-out-high-risk-suppliers-tech-from-networks
17. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252477617/BT-to-take-half-billion-pound-hit-on-Huawei-kit-replacement

Why Training Is Essential For Organisations

Leasing A 3.5 Ton 13M Van Mounted Platform From Kelling Group

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is an organisation that promotes the safe use of Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs), such as Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms (VMAPs).

With over 1,500 members across 76 countries, it is the international authority on safety best practices – which is why Access Hire is proud to announce we have become an official IPAF training provider.

Why is IPAF training important?

MEWPs are large pieces of equipment that can cause serious damage if misused. That is why operators must undertake rigorous training to ensure they know how to operate the equipment effectively – and keep themselves and their colleagues safe.

Ensuring operators are highly trained is not just about compliance, it is about creating a culture of safety and demonstrating your commitment to the workforce and your customers.

Well trained employees can also work independently and make decisions that can improve their overall efficiency. They are able to identify and solve problems quickly, preventing costly errors and downtime.

IPAF training courses are conducted by authorised training centres and culminates in the awarding of a PAL Card (Powered Access Licence) to the trained individual. This training is mandatory for anybody who operates a MEWP, and the PAL Card remains valid for 5 years.


Access Hire lets you train with a VMAP

While IPAF training is mandatory for Vehicle Mounted Access Platform (VMAP) operators, the majority of training providers do not carry out their training using VMAPs. This is not inherently problematic, but it does mean that trainees lose out on vehicle-specific tips which could be vital.

As a market leading provider of Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms, Access Hire felt this needed to change. Trainees can now undertake 1b static boom training on the specific type of VMAP they will use on-site, enabling them to benefit from our experienced trainers’ specialist VMAP knowledge.


Trainees will learn:

  • Key regulations, legislations, standards
  • How to identify risks and hazards
  • How to identify machinery parts
  • How to undertake a pre-use inspection of the vehicle and platform
  • Safe machine operating methods
  • How to identify common faults

How Eco-Friendly Welfare Units Can Help You Cut Costs In 2023

Most businesses would love to focus on sustainability in the new year. But with the ongoing recession, driven by skyrocketing energy prices, the majority will be forced to place all their attention on simply managing their budgets.

But what if the two weren’t mutually exclusive? What if using more sustainable, eco-friendly equipment – such as hybrid-powered mobile welfare units – could also help keep your costs under control?

Well, that actually is the case. Introducing more sustainable mobile welfare units to your site is not just the right thing to do for the environment – it’s also the best way to reduce costs.

Here are three ways eco-friendly welfare units help your bottom line:

Less fuel, more profiT

Hybrid power is generally lauded as an ecological fix: it helps reduce emissions and produce cleaner, greener construction sites. But hybrid power also has the potential to cut your energy costs – and increase your bottom line.

Welfare Hire’s mobile welfare units are powered by solar energy first.  If solar energy isn’t available, the power is drawn from the Lithium battery, which is also recharged from the solar panels.  With power drawn from the generator only as a last resort, the need for fuel is dramatically reduced. As a result, our units not only lower CO2 emissions – they achieve 15x fuel cost reductions.

More resilient to shocks

The last 12 months proved just how problematic relying on traditional energy sources can be. From the Ukraine war to the ban on red diesel, sites saw their fuel costs suddenly increase – and it was all out of their control.

By reducing contractors’ fuel consumption, Welfare Hire’s eco-friendly mobile welfare units and lighting towers also increase their resilience to sudden market shocks. When fuel prices shoot up, our partners are prepared – because they need so much less of it.

ESG pays

Whether you’re looking to attain investment or simply win big contracts, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores have a material impact on your financial situation. More environmentally friendly lighting towers or welfare units will improve your score – and therefore your overall financial health.