How to Maximise Employee Wellbeing on the Construction Site
A construction site is a notoriously dangerous place to work. Whilst we’re all too aware of the physical dangers and accidents that can occur, it’s often the little things that can make your staff unhappy. In such a labour-intensive sector, it’s important to keep your employee morale levels high in order to ensure everyone is working at optimum performance.
Employee wellbeing goes further than just looking out for their safety. You should be promoting a healthy work environment, taking into consideration their mental outlook and hygiene.
Sickness in the workplace
The construction industry is taxing on both mind and body, so there will inevitably be a few days when your staff feel unfit for work, particularly in the colder months as our immune systems are put under more pressure.
Always make sure your staff feel comfortable enough to approach you regarding issues such as sickness and taking time away from work. Staff working whilst suffering from ill health can become a liability and in the long run, they could end up costing you more money. Studies by Queen’s University have shown that it costs employers twice as much in productivity losses when staff work while suffering from illness, rather than staying at home.
Not only will they be slower at their work, in theory they will take longer to recover, hence the tasks will take even longer to complete.
Are you expecting too much from your employees? Working in construction, there are plenty of things that can hold up the job. Whether it’s late delivery of materials or unexpected planning failures, you should take these into consideration when estimating the amount of time a job will take.
If you expect a project to meet the expected deadline regardless of unexpected occurrences, you may be putting too much pressure on your workforce. Keep a good level of communication with them to ensure you’re up to date on progress, rather than assuming they will finish the job on time. Keeping in touch will ensure you can relay the message to your client and explain why the project has been held up.
Depending on the scale of your project, the list of requirements for onsite facilities will differ, but the basic requirements include: running water, toilets and washing facilities, somewhere to store personal items/dry clothing and a place to prepare and consume food.
If your staff require decontamination at the end of their shift, you will need to provide adequate showering facilities for them. It is imperative that you provide this option to quell harmful bacteria spreading beyond the workplace.
Not to mention the drop in morale levels if these facilities are not put in place, any workplace found to be disregarding the laws on facilities will be heavily fined by the authorities.
Building employee rapport
Treating your employees with respect should be a basic requirement for any workplace. Get to know your employees and show genuine concern for their wellbeing. If any future issues arise in the workplace, or personal issues affecting their output occur, they’ll feel comfortable enough to approach you to discuss them and find a way of dealing with them.
Encourage good practise
Ensure that everyone takes responsibility for themselves, but also promote teamwork within the workplace. Better teamwork and communication between staff onsite will ensure the project is completed in good time and to a great standard.
Encouraging these elements of good practice helps to share the burden of operating a smooth running working environment.
As you chip away at the workload, scrap materials inevitably begin to clog up the site. Not only are these an obvious hazard, they also hold up the flow of work when vehicles have to avoid them. Ensure that when your waste skips are full, you promptly remove them from the site or schedule a weekly third party service to do the work for you.
With the most likely case being that you’ll be working outdoors, you must ensure that the offensive waste produced in onsite facilities is also regularly removed and the facilities themselves are cleaned. It is your responsibility to keep the place fresh and tidy. You cannot just simply supply the facilities and leave your staff to it, if you don’t take care of them, they won’t feel comfortable using them.
About the Author: Kristin Hodgkinson is the digital marketing manager for Direct365, a company who specialise in supporting the workplace when it comes to facility management, supplies and being environmentally friendly. Be it recycling or waste collection, Direct365 can help businesses of all sizes.
Environment Agency clamps down on plastic films and wraps
Businesses in the waste and construction industries must ensure they deal with waste plastic properly to stop illegal exports, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.
The warning comes as the Agency is increasingly aware of plastic film and wrap from the construction and demolition sector being illegally exported.
Exports are frequently being classified as ‘green list’ waste of low risk to the environment, but are often contaminated with materials such as mud, sand, bricks and wood, posing a risk to the environment and human health overseas, and undermining legitimate businesses in the UK seeking to recover such waste properly.
During the last year, the EA has intercepted shipments to prevent the illegal export of this material on numerous occasions. The Agency inspected 1,889 containers at English ports and stopped 463 being illegally exported. This, combined with regulatory intervention upstream at sites, prevented the illegal export of nearly 23,000 tonnes of waste.
Those convicted of illegally exporting waste face an unlimited fine and a two-year jail sentence. But construction firms could also face enforcement action if contaminated construction and demolition waste plastic is illegally exported.
Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, said it is seeing a marked increase in the number of highly contaminated plastic film and wrap shipments from the construction and demolition industry being stopped by officers.
“I would strongly urge businesses to observe their legal responsibility to ensure waste is processed appropriately, so we can protect human health and the environment now and for future generations. It’s not enough just to give your waste to someone else - even a registered carrier. You need to know where your waste will ultimately end up to know it’s been handled properly. We want to work constructively with those in the construction and waste sectors so they can operate compliantly, but we will not hesitate to clamp down on those who show disregard for the environment and the law.”
There are a number of simple, practical steps that businesses can take to ensure that C&D site waste is handled legally.
Construction businesses should check what’s in their waste
- Different waste types need different treatments and so must be correctly categorised to ensure it goes to a site that is authorised to handle it safely. Businesses can also check if their waste is hazardous as different rules might apply.
- If you are removing the waste yourself, you must be a registered waste carrier- registration can be carried out here. When a waste collector is transporting your site waste, you must check they have a waste carrier’s licence from the EA.
- You must also check that the end destination site any waste is taken to is permitted to accept it and has the right authorisations in place. Keep a record of any waste that leaves your site by completing a waste transfer note or a consignment note for hazardous waste which record what and how much waste you have handed over and where it is going.
Waste management industry must adhere to export controls
- Contaminated C&D waste plastic - including low-density polyethylene (LDPE) wrap and film - must be exported with prior consent from the EA as well as competent authorities in transit and destination countries.
- Those involved in the export of such waste must ensure that it meets the requirements set under the relevant export controls, such as being almost free-from contamination; the destination sites are appropriately licensed to receive and treat the waste; and waste is correctly managed once received.
The EA will continue to actively target those who export contaminated C&D plastic waste illegally, including any accredited packaging exporters who issue Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) against such material in breach of their Conditions of Accreditation.
Businesses involved in the shipment of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling.
Anyone with information regarding the illegal export of waste including C&D waste plastics can contact the EA’s Illegal Waste Exports team at: [email protected] or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website