Construction companies losing up to £265m per year due to lack of light on site

Analysis by insurance provider Direct Line for Business reveals 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.

Analysis of historic weather patterns in the UK shows that there are over 15 hours of sunlight in the summer months and less than nine and a half hours of sunlight in the winter. With five and half fewer hours to work outside, this weather change has the most significant impact on professions that rely on the light, such as the construction industry.

For the average construction worker earning a wage of £544.60 per week3, the financial impact is a loss of £295.32 over the winter months. This means that there are around 899,000 employees in the UK’s construction industry who could be missing out on a total of £265,495,910 in lost earnings each winter due to poor light.

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.”

Over the course of a year, construction workers average a total of 1,953 hours on the job – the second highest for any industry after agriculture, which averages 2,287 hours. This has increased by 3.6 per cent over the past five years – or one hour and 18 minutes per week – compared to the average working week, which has only risen by 0.9 per cent over the same timeframe (18 minutes per week).