Smart Water Systems: How Construction Sites Can Use Water More Sustainably

As construction sites seek to embrace sustainability, the majority focus heavily on CO2 emissions from their welfare units and other key machinery. But what is frequently overlooked is the often highly unsustainable use of water throughout projects.

Water waste goes unnoticed

Of course, water is essential to construction. We use it for everything from grouting and dust suppression to drinking and WC facilities. The problem is we are not sufficiently aware of how wasteful this usage can be. 

The UK does not currently experience severe water shortages. But with more than 785 million people across the globe struggling to access clean water¹, we still have a responsibility to be mindful about our use of this vital resource. 

The sustainable management of water is one of the UN’s key Sustainable Develop Goals (SDGs) for a reason. And for construction leaders looking to improve their site’s ESG credentials, making better use of water is key.

Understanding onsite water waste

The average construction vehicle has four basic problems when it comes to water usage:

  1. The water is generally sourced from water supplies rather than more sustainable alternatives
  2. The water is not recycled after usage
  3. Water tanks for facilities are often too small, leading to regular refills that produce high carbon emissions and enviable waste
  4. The usage is difficult to manage and therefore non-optimal

The result is that most sites’ water system is not environmentally sound. It wastes water, produces unnecessary carbon emissions and is often highly unreliable.

Our Smart Water solves this problem

At Welfare Hire, all of our mobile welfare units come fitted with a Smart Water system which solves these problems and immediately improves the overall sustainability of your construction site. 

The ECOXLi, for example, offers a complete system. 

It harvests 100% recyclable rainwater to refill the unit’s water tanks and WCs. This is then stored in an XL water tank with 340L capacity, which reduces the need for maintenance and servicing. And it comes fitted with a Smart Telemetry system which monitors the usage of water in order to minimise the need for transport and ensure there is always clean water available.  

With this system, the welfare unit is able to provide water whenever it is needed, as well as two ECO water flush toilets – all while reducing the amount of water your site needs to operate on and lowering carbon emissions.

The benefits are clear for your business, your workers and the planet.

1.https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html#:~:text=The%20latest%20published%20information%20on,have%20safe%20water%20to%20drink.

Get in touch to try it yourself

If you’d like to future proof your business with a Smart Water System, reach out to our sales team today.

Welfare Hire Celebrates 10 Years Driving Industry Innovation

As incredible as it seems, 2022 marks the 10 year anniversary of Welfare Hire.

While we long ago established ourselves as a leader in the welfare unit market, this latest milestone demonstrates that we have true staying power.

Innovation pays

The root of our success is simple: we have a mission, and we stick to it. 

We decided from day one that we would build the UK’s largest and most technically advanced fleet of welfare units, welfare vans and lighting towers

And that is exactly what we have done. 

We have continuously reinvested our revenue to push innovation and provide better products to our partners. 

That has meant embracing next generation technologies – like lithium battery systems, smart telemetry and biofuel generators.

But it has also meant understanding the welfare needs of our clients, and ensuring our units are spacious, comfortable and designed for convenience. 

The combination produces unrivalled quality, exceptional value and devoted service at all times.

Our offering is more timely than ever

Mobile welfare units and welfare vans are often an afterthought – a mere practical

A major part of our staying power has been our embrace of eco-friendly technology. 

When we began offering products geared specifically to reducing carbon emissions and producing greener construction sites, there was certainly some awareness of climate change in parts of the industry.

But we have been vindicated in recent years as the industry has woken up to the significance of the task we face.

While other businesses look to pivot their offering, we’ve been able to carry on as we always had. 

That has meant we’ve been consistently ahead of the game, producing the most forward-thinking products on the market. 

And that in turn has given us unique expertise on how to make welfare units and lighting towers  eco-friendly.

Never settle for second best

Despite the celebrations, we have no interest in slowing down anytime soon.

We are still investing heavily in the innovation process, having released our most advanced welfare unit to date last year – the ECOXLi.  

And moving forward, we intend to push this even further. 

We will continue helping our partners realise their sustainability goals. 

We will continue to create more positive onsite experiences for their employees. 

And we will continue to provide the highest quality products, for the best value, with the most reliable service on the market.

So here’s to another ten years!

How Welfare Units Can Encourage Women to Work in Construction

Gender equality is still a major issue for the construction industry. Around 10% of the construction workforce is currently female¹. But 86.7% of those women are in office positions  – and only 2.5% work directly in the field².

This suggests that women in our industry face their biggest difficulties onsite. And in order to increase gender equality, we must offer a more inclusive environment in which female employees can thrive.

In this article, we explore why construction sites are still a great opportunity for women – and how leaders can adapt their sites to encourage greater female participation.

CULTURE IS THE KEY

The primary barrier to increased female participation on construction sites is cultural. There are long-standing stereotypes that plague the industry. And these stereotypes ultimately create a sense of alienation and exclusion for women onsite. 

A report published in 2020 showed that 72% of women in construction had experienced some form of gender discrimination in the workplace³. 80% of women say they feel left out at on-site socialising. And 37% believe they are consistently excluded from male conversations at work.

Other issues include the cleanliness of facilities; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not fitting female employees; and pervasive ideas about construction being fundamentally “men’s work”.

HOW WELFARE UNITS CAN CHANGE CULTURE

Mobile welfare units and welfare vans are often an afterthought – a mere practical necessity. But the reality is many of the cultural problems we have discussed are directly affected by the type of welfare units you choose to place onsite.

From the quality of facilities to the amount of space provided for socialising, welfare units can increase camaraderie and facilitate a happier, more inclusive social atmosphere. This is far from a silver bullet for the problem of gender imbalance, of course. But it can go a long way to creating an onsite culture, which is more accommodating to female workers. 

Let’s take our ECOXLi unit as an example. It provides far larger space than other typical welfare units, with dynamic spaces. But that’s not all: there is controlled heating, to ensure the space is comfortable at all times. 

There are separate water-flush ceramic toilets and WC/changing rooms, to ensure privacy and optimal hygiene for all employees. And the Smart Water WC facilities are the cleanest and most efficient on the market. 

The XL canteen area provides a comfortable and spacious break area with a fully equipped kitchen. Plus there is a drying facility for PPE and an extra large 2-person office.

The result is clear: employee wellbeing is dramatically improved, and the on-site dynamic is far more friendly and inclusive.

THE CLEAREST WAY TO IMPROVE ON-SITE CULTURE

The GMB predicts it will take 200 years to achieve full gender equality, based on current trends. But we believe that improving on-site wellbeing will bring about much faster changes. And introducing innovative welfare units is just one, easy-to-implement way of doing that.

Found out more on how our dynamic, modern welfare units can enhance Wellbeing here.

1.https://equalities.blog.gov.uk/2021/04/26/women-building-back-better-in-construction/
2.https://darcyassociates.co.uk/women-in-construction/
3.https://f.hubspotusercontent30.net/hubfs/2617135/Content-offers/CPE_Women%20in%20Construction%202020.pdf
4.https://darcyassociates.co.uk/women-in-construction/
5.https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/agenda/inspire-me/is-gender-bias-in-construction-getting-worse-or-are-women-less-likely-to-stay-quiet-19-03-2020/
6.https://procurepartnerships.co.uk/women-in-the-construction-industry/

Access Hire Industry Insights: Four Key Trends for Telecommunications in 2022

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 2022.

Four telecoms trends in 2022

1. The 5G rollout

The expansion of 5G networks will accelerate during 2022, 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 ‘outside 42-57% of premises,’ – 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 three 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 November 2021, CityFibre announced that its full fibre infrastructure project –  in partnership with Vodafone – had been successfully deployed by more than one 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 2021, Openreach set a goal to reach 25 million with fibre-optic broadband by 2026 – 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 2022.

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.

1.https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-new-5bn-project-gigabit
2.https://telecoms.com/opinion/embracing-government-incentives-how-can-telcos-innovate-beyond-the-bare-minimum/
3.https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/ee-promises-to-cover-90-of-uk-with-5g-by-2028
4.https://telecoms.com/512667/ofcom-reckons-around-half-of-the-uk-population-is-now-covered-by-5g-sort-of
5.https://www.gov.uk/guidance/5g-testbeds-and-trials-programme
6.https://telecoms.com/513387/uk-government-moves-to-improve-telco-access-to-street-furniture/
7.https://www.ericsson.com/en/blog/3/2021/1/achieving-sustainability-with-energy-efficiency-in-5g-networks
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://www.cityfibre.com/news/vodafone-anchors-cityfibres-nationwide-full-fibre-rollout-to-8-million-homes/
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
18.https://telecoms.com/513348/ofcom-says-broadband-and-mobile-complaints-are-down-across-the-board/
19.https://www.cityam.com/qa-what-are-the-big-lessons-for-telecoms-looking-into-2022/
20.https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/19910879.bt-commits-responsible-tech-greener-future/

How Our Eco Welfare Units Deliver Value at Every Level

At Welfare Hire, we believe that great products should deliver value across multiple dimensions. That is why we promote our five core pillars of quality, service, environment, wellbeing and value.

Every mobile welfare unit in our range is built with these five factors in mind. And in order to demonstrate that fact, we are going to explain how our most popular products improve performance across each pillar.

MOBILE EcoWELFARE Eco7

Kelling Group Eco7 Mobile Welfare Unit

QUALITY

The Eco7 was designed to deliver greater quality while taking up less space. With its unique retractable drawbar, the unit’s onsite footprint is 40% smaller than other mobile welfare units. This provides greater flexibility, as it can fit into spaces other units can’t. And by minimising trip hazards, it makes Health and Safety compliance seamless.

SERVICE

All Welfare Hire products include a 62-point quality assurance process and dedicated expert support. But the Eco7 dramatically reduces the need for services – saving you both time and money. Its Smart XL Water WCs boast extra-large waste tanks, reducing the frequency of service intervals whilst improving wash & WC facilities.

ENVIRONMENT

The Eco7 is far more eco-friendly than other welfare units on the market. Using Smart Hybrid battery power, it is able to run silently on purely green energy 75% of time – all without ever compromising performance. This produces huge fuel savings and CO₂ reductions of up to 15x.

WELLBEING

The Eco7 is far more eco-friendly than other welfare units on the market. Using Smart Hybrid The Eco7 is designed with comfort in mind. It has 20% more internal space than comparable welfare units, providing more room for 7 people comfortably – with bench seating, back rests and large tables as standard. This creates a far more positive space for employees to spend their downtime – ultimately increasing wellbeing and boosting morale.

VALUE

With the combined elements above, the Eco7 delivers far greater value than any comparable mobile welfare unit. It has set the bar for products of this size and scope, demonstrating the power of innovative mobile welfare units.

ECOXLi

QUALITY

The ECOXLi is the pinnacle of quality for mobile welfare units. It is the largest towable unit on the market and whilst many providers are using HGVs to deliver their units, we are using our own fleet of modern, Euro VI-compliant, low-emissions pick-ups, driven by our own experts. – ensuring you get the absolute maximum in terms of welfare accommodation and without compromising accessibility.

SERVICE

The ECOXLi optimises usage due to 100% use of recycled rainwater and non-chemical XL water tank with smart service management. Its smart telemetry system enables you to monitor energy usage in real-time, to optimise efficiency and eliminate fuel wastage. This also empowers you to schedule water and WC services for exactly when they are needed – reducing the frequency of service intervals.

ENVIRONMENT

Our ECO smart power use of renewable solar energy and next generation Lithium cell batteries with smart auto start stop power management is next level. With 100% silent & clean green energy, this minimises requirement for generator power usage, and for the summer months is not required at all.

WELLBEING

The ECOXLi is also the largest welfare unit on the market. It provides space for up to 15 people, offering comfortable seating, full canteen facilities, a separate working office for two, drying facilities and two separate water-flush WCs. This helps support a happier, healthier and more productive workforce – ultimately changing the way employees think about their work.

VALUE

For many businesses, value is all about the bottom line – and the ECOXLi delivers this in spades. With its user-friendly dashboard, XL water system and ECO power system, you can easily optimise for efficiency and eliminate downtime – making it the most economical welfare unit of its kind.

Three Reasons Apprenticeships Are Essential For the Workforce of the Future

The tradition of apprenticeships goes back hundreds of years, and has been integral to the development of a healthy workforce, but with recent government figures suggesting the number of young people starting apprenticeships has plummeted in the last year¹, it appears that tradition is at risk of fading away.

At Access Hire, we have a proud history of taking on apprentices. So to honour National Apprenticeship Week, we felt we should speak up and explain exactly why such programmes are important for employers and apprentices alike.

Here are three reasons apprenticeships are essential for the workforce of the future:

1. Developing skills

Apprenticeships provide young, relatively inexperienced workers the opportunity to develop their skills. They are able to hone techniques, build expertise and learn from mentors that truly understand what is required to work professionally in a particular field.

The net result is increased quality of work and a level of service which can only come from extended, disciplined training. According to research, the average employer using an apprenticeship scheme sees their investment returned within 6 months – and an ROI of 150% is very common².

2. Improved prospects

The opportunities an apprenticeship scheme provides can be transformative. Getting into technical fields may be daunting, but apprenticeships open doors. In fact, individuals that complete an apprenticeship scheme see an average salary premium of 32%³.

Ultimately, this has lasting implications for personal and professional wellbeing. Not only does it help the apprentice – it helps promote a sense of positivity within the entire workforce.

3. Preparing employers for the future

Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to create relationships with a new generation of talent, and help mould them into the kind of mature employees they want in the future. This helps employers understand what to expect from the workforce of the future – and prepare for it.

Apprenticeships ultimately ensure businesses can continue to deliver the highest possible value to customers. And at Access Hire, we believe that should be at the centre of every decision a business makes.

1.https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/apprenticeship-starts-plummet-by-a-fifth-since-last-year#gref
2.https://www.fenews.co.uk/exclusive/where-s-the-data-does-the-uk-really-know-why-apprenticeships-matter-to-the-economy-and-people/
3.https://www.fenews.co.uk/exclusive/where-s-the-data-does-the-uk-really-know-why-apprenticeships-matter-to-the-economy-and-people/

How to Get More Value From Your Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms (VMAP) in 2022

Kelling Group Access Hire Units

Mental health and wellbeing is a serious problem in construction: everybody knows this.

2022 is set to be another big year for infrastructure projects and Access Hire. But with uncertainty around the economy and on-going questions as to the future of the pandemic, it’s vital that contractors make the most efficient use of their budgets. 

Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms are vital for many infrastructure projects, but there are better and worse ways to source, operate and manage your fleet. 

In this article, we explore four ways which may help infrastructure projects get the maximum value out of their Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms in 2022:

1. Modernise your fleet

Many businesses refuse to upgrade their vehicles under the assumption that it will be too costly to enlist a more modern fleet. But in reality, the costs of improving the Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms you use are far less than the costs of relying on a fleet that is no longer fit for purpose.

Ultimately, modern vehicles run more smoothly – reducing the likelihood of disruption and ensuring your team can stay on schedule.

2. Focus on fuel efficiency

It may seem a relatively small factor, but fuel efficiency can have a big impact on both the environmental and financial results of your project. 

Older vehicles tend to require more fuel – as well as more frequent maintenance. This means they produce higher emissions and cost more to run.
Our fleet of Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms are designed to be maximally fuel-efficient. Not only will they save you money and improve your project’s environmental credentials – they are also less hassle to run.

24/7

3. Outsource support and maintenance

Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms require regular maintenance, to ensure they run smoothly and do not cause disruption to your project. But there are still more and less efficient ways to go about undertaking this maintenance.

The best option is to source your vehicles from a provider that includes full support and maintenance in their access vehicle hiring agreement. This will ensure that not only is maintenance and support taken care of – it never even has to cross your mind.

 

4. Try leasing your access vehicle

Many businesses assume that there are only two options when sourcing Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms – to buy your own fleet outright or to hire VMAPs.. But there is actually a third option, which offers some of the benefits of both – access vehicle lease.

By leasing, you may be able to improve your fleet in a way that suits your budget better; it may also help you manage your finances more effectively over the course of a project. Ultimately, it could help you extract even greater value from your access vehicles this year.

Looking to modernise your VMAP fleet? Contact our support team today.

Innovation is Key For a Clean Energy System, and Welfare Units Can Help

There is no longer a debate: the world needs to embrace cleaner, more sustainable energy sources – and fast. 

Doing so is a vital part of meeting targets for curbing carbon emissions, not to mention the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals¹. But it will not happen overnight, and a huge amount of innovation will be required to develop the reliable, dynamic systems we need.

Construction is a vital force here. The industry will play a key role in the future of sustainable energy, helping build the infrastructure our new energy systems will rely on². But in doing so this itself presents an opportunity to embrace cleaner, greener construction methods..

Roughly 10% of the UK’s CO2 emissions are a direct result of construction activities. Yet many have still to embrace more energy efficient products, like mobile ECO welfare and tower lights – and the industry has lagged behind when it comes to innovation in recent years. 

So, while construction has a key role to play in bringing about positive changes in the energy industry, we also have a responsibility to develop more sustainable ways of working.

What can infrastructure contractors do?

Changing the way sites are run might seem like an overwhelming task. But as we’ve discussed before in relation to our mobile ECO welfare units, many of the biggest wins can come from seemingly small changes.

A simple example is the units and lighting that your site uses: many older models are hugely energy inefficient, both producing huge amounts of emissions and requiring huge amounts of support to run.

Welfare units and vans, lighting units, Vehicle Mounted Access Platforms – these may not strike you as key parts of a clean energy revolution. But that is largely because very few companies that build these products have fully embraced the possibilities of innovative technology

Welfare Unit For 15 People

Take our ECOXLi mobile welfare unit

It operates on a next generation Lithium cell battery and uses full solar power technology to power the onboard energy requirements. Not only does this enable the unit to run longer – it minimises the need for generator power and results in an incomparably cleaner energy system.

The welfare unit also features a Smart Telemetry system, which enables real-time monitoring of energy usage and provides live volumetric data for your site. Ultimately, this ensures that energy is used as efficiently as possible, emissions are lowered and your site is more sustainable.

Embracing products like this is a simple but highly effective way for contractors to drastically improve their site, as well as demonstrating to clients that they are forward-thinking.

1.https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal7
2.https://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/emily-folk/what-s-the-future-of-energy-in-20190610

Four Ways to Truly Improve Onsite Wellbeing in 2022

Mental health and wellbeing is a serious problem in construction: everybody knows this, and we’ve discussed the reasons why at length in our articles about mobile welfare units.

But acknowledging this problem and actually dealing with it are two very different things. The stats on onsite injuries and mental health issues have been available for years, and the industry has yet to make a decisive shift towards prioritising employee wellbeing – despite the widespread availability of many resources, like innovative welfare units.

It is time to change this.  Promoting Health and Wellbeing is even included as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and that has to mean something. 

As the new year begins, we believe contractors and organisations must take decisive action to truly put wellbeing at the top of their agendas. That means more than keeping workers safe – it means truly adapting the physical and social environment of worksites to meet employees’ needs.

Here are four important steps you can take to increase wellbeing on your site:

1. Be honest about the problem

The first step towards truly prioritising onsite wellbeing is accepting the scale of the problem. As our research shows, men in construction are roughly 3x more likely to commit suicide than the average population, and construction workers make up roughly 16% of all male suicides. 

Improving wellbeing is not simply a technical challenge – these issues are deeply embedded in the culture of many sites. So rather than looking for quick fixes, we need to see this as an ongoing task of adaptation and education. 

Leaders should seek to truly understand the conditions that create such poor wellbeing: long hours on precarious contracts; chronic loneliness; physical fatigue; and a culture of repression and fear. This will help them properly acknowledge the scale of the problem and formulate better strategies to address it.

2. Promote open dialogue

Events like ‘Time to Talk Day’ are all about raising awareness of mental health struggles. The message is simple: we need to be able to talk openly about our wellbeing. And that very much includes the workplace.

Just 5% of employees tell their employers when they experience mental health issues. This level of suppression is only going to exacerbate the problem – as well as creating a sense of isolation and resentment amongst workers. 

In order to change this, leaders should take a varied approach. You cannot simply force people to talk if they aren’t ready to, so there should be a wealth of options for workers to communicate with the leadership about problems they face.

3. Dedicate more resources to wellbeing

There is no getting around it: onsite wellbeing is directly connected to the quality and quantity of facilities workers have access to. Isolation and a lack of communication are inevitably worsened by small, cramped spaces which do not allow employees to be comfortable – even when they’re supposed to be having a break. 

A simple example to improve this is by upgrading your mobile welfare units. With more space and more comfortable seating, employees will be able to properly relax in their downtime. It will also help foster a sense of community and openness, which may lead to better communication.

Better mobile welfare units may also provide better facilities. While things like access to hot water, canteens and WCs may appear like small things, they can have a big impact on employees’ sense of autonomy and safety.

4. Give employees more flexibility

Among the chief causes of negative wellbeing on construction sites is the stress and physical exhaustion that comes from long, gruelling hours. As other industries embrace flexible work patterns, construction leaders should also look to offer employees more control over the hours they work.

Part of this is relieving some of the pressures workers feel onsite. It is common for contractors to expect employees to work to harsh deadlines – even if there are delays in the delivery of materials or planning errors. But this creates an unfair expectation, and is a sure sign that you are not truly prioritising worker wellbeing.

Addressing such problems is likely to have a dramatic impact on factors like absenteeism and work-related sickness, as well as improving loyalty and creating a more positive culture onsite. Along with more open dialogue and better mobile welfare units, this will go a long way to demonstrating that you are taking seriously the wellbeing of your people.

How to Choose the Right Welfare Unit For Your Site

Lithium battery and solar technology minimises the requirement for generator power

Welfare units and vans provide the backbone of a happy and healthy construction site. But with so many products on the market, it can be difficult to know which will best serve your particular site’s needs. 

In this article, we explore four key factors you should consider before choosing a welfare unit:

1. Cost

It would be nice if money were no object. But for most projects there is a limited budget – and that means you have to be strategic with how you spend. Mobile welfare units vary in price, and it’s important to make a cost-benefit analysis to ensure you don’t under-or-overspend.

There may, for example, be gains to be made from hiring a more expensive welfare unit that will more than cover the cost. There may also be hidden costs to cheaper models, if they do not include service or support.

It’s also worth considering whether you need a full welfare unit – would a welfare van serve you just as well? This may be a way of spending more efficiently without cutting back on quality, as well as increasing the flexibility of your worksite.

Questions to ask:

  • How much can you afford to spend on a welfare unit or van?
  • What do you expect to get for your money?
  • What is included in the price of the welfare unit or van?

2. Employee needs

Welfare units exist primarily to meet the needs of your employees. And given that every workforce has slightly differing needs, it’s important to consider what your specific team will benefit from – as well as the actual size of the team.

Some welfare units – such as our ECO10 Welfare Unit (for up to 10 people) – features far more space and provides better quality facilities than others. Determining whether your employees will benefit from better access to hot water or more comfortable seating is important before making a hiring decision.

Questions to ask:

  • How much space do you require?
  • What facilities do you require?
  • Will you benefit from improving employee wellbeing?

3. Technology

As sites are more heavily scrutinised for their sustainability, the quality of technology they use must improve. Many welfare units are built on inefficient technology, and therefore actively hinder efforts to make your site more sustainable.

More modern technology, however, can be an active benefit. Take our ECOXLI Unit: it makes use of next generation lithium cell batteries and solar technology, minimising the need for generator power. It also operates an intelligent auto system for full telemetry, so you can guarantee it only uses power when necessary.

Questions to ask:

  • What kind of power does your welfare unit or van run on?
  • How modern is the fleet you are hiring from?
  • What are your sustainability goals and will this welfare unit help meet them?

4. Support

Mobile welfare units require regular maintenance, and bringing in a third-party expert to administer this can be costly and time consuming. It’s vital therefore to consider what level of support the company you are hiring from provides.

At Welfare Hire, we pride ourselves on offering comprehensive 24/7 support, as well as scheduling regular maintenance and checkups. This ensures your mobile welfare units are always in great condition, and any issues are resolved as quickly as possible.

Questions to ask:

  • Is support included?
  • If so, how much support and of what quality?
  • What are the costs of disruptions if you do not have comprehensive support?