How Construction Sites Can Empower Workers to Tackle The Stress Epidemic

Stress is a major issue for the construction industry. 48% of workers have taken time off due to unmanageable stress, while a third deal with elevated stress every day – and 91% say they have felt overwhelmed at work.

But despite these statistics, the negative impact of workplace stress is still not widely talked about. Which is exactly why National Stress Awareness Month is such an important event for the industry.

What is National Stress Awareness month?

National Stress Awareness month is all about raising awareness of the connection between mental and physical wellbeing. Held every April since 1992, the goal is to remove the shame and stigma from mental health – and encourage an open dialogue about how to improve people’s experiences. 

But this raises the question: what can construction leaders actually do to tackle stress? Mental Health at Work provides some extremely valuable advice on building a more inclusive, open workplace culture. (You can find it here.) 

But more than anything, the key to reducing stress on-site is empowering workers. And to do that, you need to provide the right environment on-site – which is how providing the best mobile welfare units can help.

Mobile welfare units can help tackle stress in three key ways:

1. Creating a safe space

One of the most powerful ways to tackle stress is simply by talking about it openly. But research finds that 78% of construction workers don’t do this due to ‘shame and stigma’ – while 77% don’t because they fear the judgement of their peers.

A comfortable welfare unit creates a better environment to tackle this problem. Workers can relax, and feel they are in a safe space to discuss their problems either with management teams or their co-workers.

2. Enabling regular breaks

Construction shift work can be brutal: long hours of physical working, out in the open. Research has shown that not taking enough breaks has a detrimental effect on stress levels – as well as a host of other negative repercussions for both physical and mental health.

Mobile welfare units enable workers to take regular breaks that help them replenish their energy and recentre themselves. Welfare Hire’s units offer extra space, too – to ensure everybody who needs to take a break can do so.

3. Signalling employers’ intent

64% of construction workers want their employers to do more to support their mental health, while 55% won’t open up about their struggles because they fear negative consequences to their job. Employers need a way to signal to their workers that it’s okay to talk – and investing in better mobile welfare units is a great way to do that.

Larger, newer mobile welfare units make clear that employees’ wellbeing is valued. They demonstrate leaders’ desire to do more for their workers. And most importantly, they show that it’s not all just talk – leaders are genuinely willing to act.

Three Key Values Access Hire Will Promote At Connected North

Telecoms projects are booming due to Project Gigabit, and the future of the industry looks bright. But companies still face several challenges to fully benefit from the boom, with 5G roll-outs still far from completion – along with on-going concerns over rising costs and security challenges.

This year’s Connected North is the perfect opportunity to address them. The event unites more than 1,500 of the North’s connectivity leaders, providing an essential forum to explore the industry’s biggest issues. And as an established leader with the country’s largest fleet of Van Mounted MEWPs, we look forward to bringing three ideas to the table:

1. Vehicle leasing

Despite the Telecoms industry boom, newer infrastructure companies still struggle to get a foot in the door. Van Mounted MEWPs are essential for the majority of projects, but are expensive – especially when factoring in maintenance costs. This creates a barrier to entry for many, which is not only bad for the excluded companies – it reduces the industry’s overall competitiveness.

Leasing Van Mounted MEWPs solves this issue, enabling companies to access best-in-class equipment with a low, fixed cost payment schedule. Leasing also reduces lead times for telecoms companies and enables greater flexibility – ultimately benefiting the whole industry.

2. Van Mounted MEWP training

Van Mounted MEWPs are essential for fibre engineers to work safely at height, as well as improving the efficiency of that work. But operating the vehicles properly requires specialised training. Not just theoretical training – direct, experience-based training.

That’s why we are thrilled to offer IPAF training that sticks. Our trainees learn using the vehicles they’ll actually use in the field, enabling them to discover vehicle-specific tricks, increasing their confidence.

3. Electric vehicles

Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing the Telecoms industry. With 5G projected to increase energy consumption by 160% by 2030, every company is looking at how it can become greener – and fast.

Electric vehicles are by no means the only answer, but they will play an important role. Which is why we’re showcasing Access Zero – our new fleet of fully-electric Van Mounted MEWPs. The vehicles will help Telecoms infrastructure projects reduce their energy usage and move a step closer to their lofty net zero goals.

Four Essential Features That Help Mobile Welfare Units Conserve More Water

The construction industry is making great progress in its shift towards more sustainable practices, with 47% of industry executives saying sustainability is top of mind for them. But the majority of sites could still consume less water – all they need is the right technology to facilitate more efficient usage.

For leaders looking to reduce their water usage, mobile welfare units are a great place to start. The Smart Water System included in Welfare Hire’s units delivers significant reductions through the following four key features:

Four steps to reduce water waste:

1. Rainwater harvesting

One significant and easy win to avoid water wastage is harvesting rainwater. This immediately reduces the need for alternate water supplies, both cutting costs and increasing sustainability. The only problem is most welfare units are unable to do this.

That’s why the ECOXLi Mobile Welfare Unit features a Smart Water System which facilitates the harvesting of rainwater. But simply using rainwater is not enough – you need to maximise its usage.

2. Grey water recycling

Much of the water used in mobile welfare units is for sinks. But this ‘grey water’ can actually be recycled and fed back into the system to be used for flushing toilets. 

Our Smart Water System enables such recycling, so that rainwater can be used – and then reused – to create a sustainable water ecosystem. The effectiveness of this is really only limited by the unit’s capacity to store water.

3. increased storage

Harvesting rainwater and recycling grey water is fantastic. But in order to support a full workforce, the mobile welfare unit also needs a very large storage tank. Not only does this mean it can harvest more water; it means the waste tank takes longer to reach capacity, which reduces the frequency of servicing.

Welfare Hire’s Mobile Welfare Units are fitted with XL tanks that take more than twice as long to reach capacity. This reduces the servicing frequency dramatically, which in turn helps to cut costs on transport and lower CO₂ emissions.

4. Smart telemetry

The final step to reduce water usage is monitoring. Leaders need the ability to see how much water their units are using and optimise the timing of servicing.  At the least, mobile welfare units should incorporate clear gauges for fresh and waste water tanks.  

In addition, smart telemetry is also available with some models of welfare unit.  This technology provides live data and the ability to monitor and schedule servicing. This enables leaders to monitor water usage with ease, helping them use resources more efficiently, reduce costs and ultimately be proactive in combating water waste.

Four Key Business Benefits From Fully-Electric Van Mounted MEWPs

UK sales of Electric Vehicles (EVs) hit an all-time high last year.¹ But we are still just scratching the surface of this major shift in transport and technology.

Fully-electric Van Mounted MEWPs are now available to lease and hire for businesses across the country, and this is expected to have a significant impact on construction and infrastructure projects in several ways.

Here are four core benefits businesses can expect:

1. Reduced emissions

The most commonly cited benefit of EVs is their environmental impact. Even accounting for the generation of electricity and battery manufacturers, going electric dramatically reduces the amount of GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emitted through the lifecycle of each vehicle.

This is particularly true for fully-electric Van Mounted MEWPs. Each vehicle produces a large annual reduction of CO₂ every year and across an entire fleet, this equates to an enormous improvement to your carbon footprint.


2. Fuel savings

A common misconception about EVs is that they are more expensive. While brands like Tesla have created the perception that going electric is costly, switching to fully-electric Van Mounted MEWPs can actually result in a long-term cost saving.

Events from last year made clear just how expensive traditional fuel sources can be – not to mention highly volatile. Electricity is far cheaper and businesses can expect to save a significant amount per year on fuel.

3. Noise

Noise pollution is a major issue for the construction and infrastructure sectors – especially when working on inner-city projects. Heavy vehicles are a large contributor to that problem, but few projects can run successfully without them. This ultimately limits the times when projects can operate at full capacity.

Electric Van Mounted MEWPs provide a powerful solution to this problem. They run completely silently, thus entirely removing one of the biggest sources of noise pollution from your site – and enabling work during the night and early morning in areas where noise restrictions are strict.

4. Improved ESG

Whether you operate in the public or private sector, there is growing pressure to demonstrate the steps you are taking to improve your sites’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores. Opting for fully-electric Van Mounted MEWPs is an easy win in this regard, providing a large improvement that can be actioned immediately.


How welfare units can improve onsite wellbeing and support staff retention for the rail industry

As the rail industry grapples with a skills crisis, organisations are beginning to recognise the importance of wellbeing and inclusion onsite. A 2021 Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) survey found that over 40% of rail workers were suffering from a mental health condition, which had a “hugely detrimental effect on their employers”, impacting cost, performance and safety. RSSB added that, while the COVID-19 pandemic likely contributed to this crisis, more must be done to support staff – with a focus on “workplace factors” and helping individuals who might be “socially excluded”.

Wellbeing on Rail construction sites

In this way, employee wellbeing is paramount on rail construction sites, with mental health and burnout an important consideration.  

And improving wellbeing isn’t just important from a duty-of-care perspective – it can also help employers to recruit diverse new talent, retain existing staff, and boost productivity. Indeed, RSSB reported that “sickness absence was five times higher (in rail workers) than the general population pre-COVID and six times higher than the general population during the pandemic” – figures that will undoubtedly impact bottom lines.

Add to this the fact that rail still has a diversity problem (a 2021 Network Rail report found that just 3.9% of operations and maintenance staff are women), and it’s clear that more can be done to make onsite environments safe, inclusive and positive.

Modern Welfare facilities improve wellbeing

While onsite facilities (particularly welfare units) might seem like little more than a practical necessity, they can have a dramatic impact on wellbeing. Indeed, for team members working outdoors, a warm, dry and comfortable space can help make a big difference.

Traditional and older welfare facilities are often poorly maintained or lacking the space and comfort to allow workers to take a proper break onsite, contributing to the lack of support many feel at work – these are the “workplace factors” that, if improved, could transform culture and conditions onsite.

As such, it pays to invest in quality welfare units; with access to additional space, modern kitchen appliances, hygienic non-chemical water-flush WC facilities and enough power outlets, employees will be able to relax and recharge during downtime. Providing the right facilities could even encourage them to take breaks more regularly.

Larger, welfare spaces promote positive culture

Comfortable, spacious welfare units (like Welfare Hire’s modern design range) also encourage workers to come together, sharing their experiences and building relationships. This is particularly important for new starters or those with disabilities – who, in RSSB’s words, are at greater risk of being “socially excluded.”

In its survey report, RSSB added that only half of those respondents suffering from a mental health condition sought help. Well-designed welfare units provide a safe, quiet space in which employees can talk and open up – whether that’s to a colleague or line manager.

Indeed, the right welfare equipment won’t just make workers more comfortable – it could help to foster a more positive culture onsite, boosting morale and improving staff retention rates.

Improving inclusivity onsite

Providing better welfare facilities could even help to improve inclusivity onsite. Higher-end units often feature separate, hygienic toilets (Welfare Hire’s units are fitted with ceramic water-flush WCs) or changing rooms for privacy.

Investing in providing the most modern and innovative welfare will send an important message to the workforce – this in turn creates ripple effects, leading to improvements in productivity, employee inclusion, retention and overall staff morale. And, with major projects like HS2 set to create thousands of new jobs in future, building a motivated and diverse workforce is more important than ever.

While improving wellbeing and inclusivity is a complex undertaking, the right welfare facilities can help to make rail construction sites a more positive, more inclusive and safer environment for workers. This, in turn, could have a positive impact on recruitment and staff retention – areas of focus for the industry, now more than ever.

Article published in association with Rail Business Daily

Three Important Ways Electric Vehicles Help Local Authorities Hit Sustainability Goals Faster

Sustainability is top of the agenda for most local councils. But delivering sustainable infrastructure projects is easier said than done.

Despite the recent announcement of extra Government funding ¹, the process of planning, managing and delivering sustainable infrastructure is a huge challenge. Tier 3 emission accounting means leaders need to implement green alternatives across their entire supply chains – and this creates a serious problem for many councils.

A gap in the sustainability market

Key infrastructure projects require strategic equipment like Van Mounted MEWP. But these are generally seen as a big source of carbon and noise emissions. Today, fully-electric alternatives exist – they have just not been readily available to local authorities. 

Access Zero offers the UK’s first fleet of fully-electric Van Mounted MEWP, enabling infrastructure projects to run more smoothly and with far less impact to the environment. 

Here are three ways electric Van Mounted MEWP help local councils achieve their sustainability goals:


1. Reduced emissions

The construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure are responsible for roughly 16% of the UK’s total carbon emissions ². The machinery and vehicles used during projects is an important part of this – yet these emissions are often seen as inevitable.

Fully-electric Van Mounted MEWP solve that problem – producing zero emissions and requiring far less energy to run. This helps radically reduce the overall output of mobile workforces. It also makes projects easier to run in densely populated urban areas where Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) are more common ³

2. Easier budgeting

According to recent reports, 7 in 10 UK councils are struggling to finance their net-zero transition. This puts pressure on leaders, even with extra funding from the government. And since green options are generally seen as more costly, many contractors struggle to afford electric vehicles.

This is why Access Zero offers a fully inclusive maintenance solution, enabling local authorities to hire the latest access platform technology in confidence and easily forecast their cash flow due to not having to account for any service or maintenance costs. This means opting for electric Van Mounted MEWP doesn’t mean sacrificing other green initiatives or creating an unmanageable budget deficit.

3. Minimise noise pollution

Noise pollution is less widely publicised than air pollution, but it is just as harmful to the health of the local population. Researchers estimate that excessive noise costs the UK economy £20 billion each year. And Councils have a clear mandate to reduce noise from infrastructure projects – especially in urban areas.

Electric Van Mounted MEWP operate silently. This removes a huge source of on-site noise emissions and makes the environment more pleasant for both workers and civilians.

2.Sweco Group 3.London.Gov 4.Edie

Four Ways Exceptional Service Keeps Your Project Moving

Delays are the bane of construction and infrastructure projects. Recent research reveals that roughly 10% of activities on the average site are performed out of sequence¹, with over two-thirds of projects running over budget by more than 10% – and larger projects routinely taking 20% longer than anticipated.

How can these challenges be overcome? One simple solution is to choose the right partners. Suppliers of strategic equipment like Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms (VMAPs) and mobile welfare units should not only offer best-in-class products – they should be expected to support you throughout the project.

Here are four ways this can help avoid delays:

1. Availability

Delivering, collecting and servicing vehicles can be a serious logistical challenge, if your provider has limited access to specific areas and will take a long time getting to your site.

This limits the flexibility of your site, and leaves you vulnerable to unexpected delays. But Access Hire and Welfare Hire each provide both service and deliveries across the entire country. With the largest fleet in the country and an unparalleled delivery network, we are able to get you what you need faster and more reliably than other providers.

“We’ve never been let down with a collection or delivery”

Kelling Group Customer


2. Specialist knowledge

Vehicle mounted access platforms, mobile welfare units, lighting towers – these are very technical pieces of equipment which require in-depth specialist knowledge. Without that knowledge, it will take longer to service the vehicle – and any issue you experience is more likely to recur.

As specialists in our chosen fields, both Welfare Hire and Access Hire pride ourselves not only on providing the best equipment, but the highest level of expertise. Our team is made up of specialists who know the ins-and-outs of the equipment we offer – to ensure we can offer the best service possible.

We offer detailed advice to our partners at the start of every hire, to ensure the right equipment is selected – and used to its full potential. Then we provide assistance throughout the entire process, so that issues are resolved faster.

“They provide us with high quality products and service each and every time, taking the hassle out of welfare provision.”

Kelling Group Customer

3. Fully maintained equipment

Maintenance is essential for key strategic equipment. If your mobile welfare units or vehicle mounted access platforms suddenly stall or experience a mechanical fault, it can completely derail a day’s schedule, as you are unable to complete tasks involving the vehicles. And even if the vehicles do still function, you may be breaking regulatory requirements by using them without proper maintenance.

At Kelling Group, we pride ourselves on avoiding such problems. Both Access Hire and Welfare Hire include rigorous quality checks as part of our standard service offering. This creates a consistent level of quality, ensuring every mobile welfare unit, lighting tower and vehicle mounted access platform we provide is properly maintained- and supports your project, rather than disrupting it.

“The vehicles are maintained and serviced to a very high standard. This is vital to us from a safety and regulatory perspective.”

Kelling Group Customer
Kelling Group Sales And Hire Controller

4. A complete support network

When problems do arise with your strategic equipment, they can often be dealt with very quickly – as long as there is proper support on-hand. That’s why both Access Hire and Welfare Hire benefit from a complete support network – from service teams in the office to engineers in the field.

Access Hire boosts this with a strategic network that enables us to provide 24/7/265 support. So even if your infrastructure project works through the night or early morning, you’ll have access to fast, responsive support if there’s any issue with your vehicle mounted access platforms.

“The support network is excellent and critically, for our business, available 24/7/365.”

Access Hire Customer

Four Vital Trends For The UK’s Water Sector in 2023 and Beyond

The UK’s water sector is essential to virtually every facet of life. It provides water to 50 million household and non-household consumers every day¹ – employing 127,000 people in the process.²

But from ageing infrastructure to sustainability pressures, the sector faces serious challenges in the coming years. Upgrading and improving water networks will require reliable site setup and key strategic equipment – such as mobile welfare units and lighting towers. 

Here are four trends that water faces in 2023 and beyond:

1. Waste and pollution

According to the latest estimates, UK water companies lose an average of 2,923.8 million litres of water per day – equating to 1.06 trillion litres over a year.³ Reports also emerged last year of companies illegally dumping sewage in rivers. And while companies have reduced leakages by 6% in the last year , there is still plenty of work to be done.

As demand grows for more sustainable systems, these issues will have to be addressed. Large scale projects will be required to ensure national distribution systems adapt, ensuring waste is reduced and users across the country can reliably access clean water.

2. Justifying rising costs

Inflation has driven up prices across the board – and water is no exception. One in five UK water customers currently says their bill is not affordable. And when some regions of the country saw their water bills rise more sharply than other areas, there was some pushback against providers. As a result, there is growing pressure for water companies to justify their costs – and that means improving the experience of customers.

Ofwat recently said that investment would be 2 or 3x higher in the next regulatory period than previous periods. The cost of these investments will realistically be passed onto customers; providers will therefore have to ensure they make the right investments that lead to more reliable supplies, better service levels and improved environmental impact.

A key part of this is ensuring maintenance costs are under control. Whether it’s tower lighting units or mobile welfare units, choosing a partner that can provide best-in-class equipment with reliable service will ensure projects are not delayed – and customers ultimately experience as little disruption as possible.

3. Sustainable processes

Sustainability is one of the defining challenges of our time, and the UK’s water networks will have to be heavily altered to ensure they meet long-term environmental requirements. This transition will involve a great number of projects, and each one of those individual projects will be scrutinised in terms of environmental impact.

The water industry will therefore have to be very careful about choosing the right partners and equipment that reflect its environmental goals. Whether it’s the materials used or the mobile welfare units employed on site, every aspect of a project’s value chain must minimise carbon emissions and all other negative externalities.

4. Climate unpredictability

The UK’s unpredictable weather has always created a challenge for water providers. But as climate change occurs and weather patterns become even more erratic – not to mention more extreme – these challenges are getting worse.

In 2022, severe heat waves forced providers to ask customers to ration their water usage. Incidents like this are likely to become more frequent – as is disruptive flooding. Compounded by projections that the UK population is likely to increase by 20% over the next two decades,¹⁰ navigating increasing weather uncertainty and risk will be a defining challenge for the water sector.

While innovations like demand management will no doubt contribute, water companies will inevitably have to become more agile and flexible in their responses to weather-related problems. This requires partners like Welfare Hire that can assist in faster, more reliable servicing, providing strategic equipment across the country with unparalleled speed and expert support.

6. 7.

Why Training Is Essential To Operate Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms Safely

Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms (VMAPs) are an essential part of many infrastructure projects. But without the proper training, they carry a number of safety risks which can lead to delays, hazards – and potentially serious injuries. 

What are the vehicle mounted access platform safety risks?

Working from heights is always considered a health and safety risk; 123 UK workers died in 2022 as a result of falls¹. Whilst Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms present a safe and efficient way of working at height, there are still a number of other safety risks – all of which require operators to be highly trained.

Some of these are related to proper care and maintenance. If not set up or secured properly, the platform can be unstable – potentially causing it to tip over. Equally, if the vehicle is not properly maintained, sudden machinery failures can lead to accidents.

Other risks relate to operators’ skill and knowledge of the vehicle. If the operator does not have proper control over the vehicle mounted access platform, there is a risk of collision with other vehicles or obstacles – not to mention the risks to the person working on the platform.


How training mitigates the risk

Comprehensive safety training is not just a matter of legal requirement – it can actually save lives. By ensuring the operator is familiar with the proper safety procedures – as well as protocols for maintaining the equipment and noticing when additional support is required – the right training course will make your operators safer, more confident and more efficient.

Training should include information on how to properly set up and secure the platform; how to properly use the controls and safety features; and how to safely access and work from the platform. Additionally, safety training can help to prevent accidents and injuries by teaching operators how to recognize and avoid potential hazards.

But simply memorising this information is not enough – it needs to be used. And that is where most training programmes run into a serious problem.

Why training needs to use real vehicles

Sitting in a classroom or at a computer is one thing; making decisions in the moment is another. Just 12% of employees say they have been able to apply what they learned in training courses to their real-world job²

Why? Because they learn in an artificial environment divorced from their real day-to-day work. A trainee may take in all of the information, but it is less likely to stick – and far less likely to become a lasting habit that ensures consistently safe operation.

This is a common problem with operator training.  While International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) training is the industry gold-standard, few organisations are able to offer the programmes using vehicle mounted access platforms – which is exactly why Access Hire stepped up.

Access Hire helps your site stay safe

We now offer full IPAF training onsite using our market leading range of Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms. Not only does this ensure operators are properly accredited – it gives them the opportunity to learn skills specific to the vehicle they’ll be using on site.

This makes the training more relevant and helps them memorise the information more effectively. As a result, safety practices become real habits. The operator follows every safety protocol and operates the vehicle properly without even thinking – and that is what you need to keep your site safe.

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.