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Hello Darkness My Old Friend

20 October 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

Construction businesses in particular lose a cumulative three days’ work over the winter months due to poor light and more accidents happen in the first week after the clocks go back it is claimed.

New analysis by insurance provider Direct Line for Business show construction companies across the UK could be collectively losing as much as £265 million every year because a lack of light in winter prevents employees working.

Last year, construction workers clocked up an average of 37.9 hours per week during the summer months (April to September), but only 37.2 hours per week during winter (October to March).  A total of 20 hours and 22 minutes of working time is lost over the course of the winter, nearly three full days’ work, per employee.

While over the past decade construction businesses’ hours have increased, companies are still losing a fortune in lost productivity because of the enforced reduction in working hours in winter. Matt Boatwright, Head of Direct Line for Business, said: “Those working in the construction industry are clearly in demand, with the average hours of work increasing by more than 45 minutes per week over the last decade. However, the UK’s construction businesses have always been restricted in the hours that they work by the weather, with poor weather conditions or light quality having an impact.

“New innovations, such as Fleetlights, which is a prototype service that uses a fleet of flying torch drones, responsive to movement and controlled via a bespoke app, could potentially make the construction industry more productive. Just a few minutes’ extra work per day can have a positive impact on a project, and without the burden of poor light, the construction industry could complete contracts faster and increase their business’ earning potential as a result.”


Stay Alert, Don't Get Hurt

Casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions. This year, the end of daylight saving takes place when clocks go back an hour at 2:00am on Sunday October 29’.

This is a statement by VPS Site Security who do qualify it with the following: ‘Few statistics record accidents on construction sites after the autumn time change but road casualties recorded by RoSPA and telematics companies are a guide to the potential risks building workers may face. Every autumn when the clocks go back and it gets darker earlier in the day, road casualties rise, by as much as 30% between the hours of 5:00pm and 8:00pm - and overall 10% in the month after the daylight saving change’.

In addition, more thefts occur during the darker late afternoons and early evening times following the clock changes.

VPS Site Security are highlighting their Stay Alert, Don't Get Hurt Daylight Safety Campaign with these 5 simple steps that can help construction sites reduce the risks:

  • Prepare - Issue a Safety Alert on Monday October 23rd and remind people on Friday 27th. Warn workers of the risks of the clocks going back - changes to their sleep patterns can affect their alertness. People may think they are gaining an extra hour's sleep, but often they over-compensate by staying up later than they usually do, increasing the changes to their sleep rhythm. Construction workers need to be aware that dusk comes an hour earlier, when more accidents occur and they may be less alert, so they need to take extra care, particularly in the first week after the change.
  • Check lighting on the site. Check to see if there is sufficient lighting on-site that lights the work areas for people to work safely. Bring in extra lighting if necessary, or introduce extra floodlights as part of the Safety Alert, a way to draw attention to the added risks of the end of daylight saving. If you are using timers for the lighting, or arranging them to be turned on manually, ensure the timers are brought in-line with the daylight-saving changes. Turning them on before dusk again raises the alert and awareness.
  • Stay ahead with Improved Safety and Security: If you haven't already, consider installing CCTV or video-verified camera systems, which not only protect a site from intruders and unauthorised trespassers, but also provides a safety audit for the site, and helps encourage preventative interventions before an incident occurs.
  • To reduce opportunist crime, check your perimeter - inspect all fencing and access points thoroughly, and check them regularly. Rectify any detected weaknesses or tampered areas immediately. Sometimes you are too close to your own site to see the wood for the trees - an independent assessor can offer a free assessment and review of your safety and security.
  • Use the Stay Alert, Don't get Hurt Safety Campaign poster - available to download for free on the VPS Site Security website. Copy it and display at every site.

Picture:  Stay Alert, Don't get Hurt






Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 20 October 2017


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