How Will the Weather Affect Productivity? 1

How Will the Weather Affect Productivity?

15 October 2018

It has been said throughout time that weather affects people’s mood. A lack of sunlight can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder. The disorder usually affects people from October to April when there is a reduction in daylight hours.

In the same way, weather can affect productivity on a construction site. A reduction in productivity could lead to extended project lengths and increased costs.

The impact of adverse weather is a common cause of delays and economic losses in construction projects. In a journal published earlier this year, a study indicated that UK weather extends project durations by an average of 21%.

Extending projects will push contingency expectations to their limits and risk contractors’ performance bonuses or trigger any penalty clauses in the contract. There are several ways to avoid delays to your project.

Some delays can be planned for to ensure they cause minimal disruption – weather delays can also be planned for due to each season having different weather patterns.

We’re almost into winter, the days are getting shorter and the mornings are colder, so we shall firstly concentrate on this season.

Winter

In recent weeks, we’ve covered winter issues on-site and using plant in cold weather, but it cannot be stressed enough how much of a negative impact winter can have on a construction project:

  • Mortar is affected by cold weather as it stops absorbing moisture, which reduces its resistance to water.
  • Concrete and bricks become weak due to the formation of ice crystals.
  • Water and paint freeze, slowing down the curing process.

Curing temperatures differ depending on the product:

  • Concrete/Cement – provided there is continuous curing, concrete or cement cured at about 12.7°C (55°F) for the first 28 days ultimately reaches the highest strength.
  • Bitumen/Tarmac – the ideal temperature to cure asphalt or tarmac is 104°C to 143°C.

Being able to predict weather patterns can protect your site against periodical risks. In the winter, PAL Hire can offer you weather-resistant storage containers to protect materials and plant from heavy rain and freezing temperatures.

Winter and lack of sunlight has the biggest effect on labourers. The need for additional layers to keep warm could restrict movement, causing tasks to be completed slower, which naturally increases the project time.

For your workforce, we can provide mobile welfare units. These can be used as a place of refuge to protect labourers from cold temperatures and potential diseases that can be caught on-site through the winter.

The harsh weather conditions reduce the operational capacity of plant and vehicles. PAL Hire offers track pads and temporary roads to give vehicles the base to move through construction sites.

Adverse winter weather including snowfall, heavy rain, increased wind speed, and freezing temperatures radically impact the profitability of a project.

Spring

Spring is generally a calm, cool season, with daylight hours extending as the sun rises higher. It’s also a time for sudden rain showers and cool winds. The presence of sudden rain combined with strong winds makes a safe construction site dangerous within seconds.

Strong winds cause the most concern for those working at height. PAL Hire has previously covered how to protect yourself, which can be read here.

The Building Safety Group has reported a 13% rise in the number of working at height safety breaches recorded on construction sites. The increase is based on 10,000 site inspections conducted during the first 6 months of 2018, comparing Q1 with Q2.

Making sure you have a safe site will increase productivity as your workforce will feel comfortable in their surroundings. Comfortable workers make happy workers, which makes productive workers.

Summer

In recent years, summer is getting even hotter and the UK is experiencing long heatwaves. The hot weather brings its own unique set of risks.

Your workforce can suffer from health problems, such as dehydration and heat exhaustion, due to working in extreme heat.

Materials can also be affected in intense heat:

  • The strength of concrete could reduce, and you may require additional water.
  • Paint applied in the heat can become cracked or wrinkled.
  • Bricks become too dry in the heat and decrease their ability to stick to mortar paste.

Our welfare units also help in the summer and can protect your workforce from the sun.

Autumn

Challenges faced in autumn are similar to the ones faced in spring. The season has the ability to produce unsettled weather and significant amounts of condensation.

Ensuring all workers are protected and equipment is maintained will help increase productivity through autumn months.

Regardless of the season, contractors tend to request for additional project time due to adverse weather conditions. Rain causes a myriad of problems and health and safety is vital when the ground is wet and muddy. For general health and safety tips, read here.

Effect on the Workforce

Keeping your workforce warm during winter and hydrated during summer is vital in ensuring productivity remains high.

Due to the cold and the minimal sunlight hours, the mental state of your workforce could also impact productivity. To ensure their mental state remains as high as possible, provide your workforce with warm areas for safety.

One of the dangers of operating in winter is also the lack of light. PAL Hire can help you artificially enhance the amount of light you have on your construction site via our range of lighting towers.

Weather has a huge effect on productivity, but poor site planning will have a greater impact on workers’ productivity. Plan your site, plan through any expected delays, including weather delays, and you’ll be able to complete your project on time, maximising your profit.