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Construction workers name storms as top disruption to their work in past 12 months

Construction workers in the UK say the nation’s unpredictable weather is preventing them from doing their jobs properly, prompting calls for employers to provide extra support.

A survey by global technology company SafetyCulture has singled out stormy weather as the biggest disruption in the past 12 months. Four of the top five disruptions to UK construction workers are weather-related, with travel disruption on the roads, heat, icy weather, and floods also being identified.

These external factors impact productivity with more than half (55%) of workers unable to leave home due to disruptions at some point last year, meaning they couldn’t do their jobs at all. Another half (49%) have had to leave site early at some point due to factors like bad weather.

This frequent disruption contributes to the UK’s construction operatives feeling stretched and stressed. Six out of ten (59%) admit cutting corners on health and safety at work, potentially creating risk to themselves or colleagues. Respondents to SafetyCulture’s survey said they cut corners because they were under pressure to meet deadlines, understaffed, and poorly equipped.

The findings come ahead of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on Sunday 28th April, which is run annually by the UN’s International Labour Organisation.

Alex Brooks-Sykes, SafetyCulture’s lead for UK & Ireland, said: “The British have a reputation for grumbling about the weather, but for construction workers, it can stop a good day’s work and even impact their safety.

“Clearly on-site workers are heavily impacted by weather conditions, and storms are a particular drain on productivity and cause of downtime. Staff absences and disruption are also bad for businesses forced to continually juggle resources and fluctuating costs. It all adds up to another drag on the sector’s productivity.”

SafetyCulture’s workplace operations platform is used by more than 18,000 UK businesses, including construction industry players like AECOM, ArcelorMittal, and Mobile Mini. Founded in Australia in 2004, the company aims to reach over 100 million deskless workers globally by 2032.

Its survey highlights the plight of people who must physically show up for their jobs and work outside the comforts of air-conditioned offices. It is estimated that frontline workers represent 80% of the global workforce.1

With the Met Office forecasting an increase in the number and intensity of storms in Britain, SafetyCulture suggests employers can do more to support construction workers.

Alex added: “Communication is key. Accepting that we can’t change the weather, employers should maintain an open dialogue with frontline workers and ensure reports from the ground are taken seriously. Managers with office comforts can be hundreds of miles from site, but the technology exists to react in real-time, minimise disruption and keep workers safe by ensuring they’ve got the right equipment and training to handle every climate. They’re simple principles, but they can make a big impact.”