Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Safety when the Clocks Change

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Safety when the Clocks Change

23rd October 2017
At the end of this week we’ll see the end of Daylight Saving Time for another year as the clocks are turned backwards one hour to local standard time as opposed to British Summer Time (BST) or Daylight Saving Time (DST).  This essentially means that the mornings will be lighter but the sun will go down earlier with darker evenings than we’re used to. 
 
Although it’s only an hour’s difference, the change always comes as a bit of a surprise and, with the weird weather we’ve had in the UK lately, the darkness may even seem more pronounced. 
 
This is a good time to remind our readers of the need for extra vigilance particularly when it comes to safety and security on construction sites around the UK.
 
Here in the construction industry, health and safety is an ever-present issue, after all this is one of the most risky sectors in which to work.  When the evenings get darker and the weather begins getting worse, casualty rates increase.  So far, there have been no studies done on specific construction industry accident rates in the wake of the clocks going back, but RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) has carried out research on the road accident statistics during this period with worrying results.  
 
Every Autumn after the clocks change road casualties increase by as much as 30% between the hours of 5pm and 8pm, with an overall rise of 10% in the month after daylight savings change.  Moreover, more thefts are experienced during the darker afternoons following the clock changes.  These figures are a powerful demonstration of just how much we need to be aware of the need for extra vigilance at that time.  Here are a few things that construction business owners can do in order to ensure safety and security as the longer evenings draw closer:
 
1. Check Lighting – make sure that the on-site lighting is adequate and that lights work in all areas in order to keep workers safe.  If necessary, consider introducing floodlights or extra lighting to be used as dusk approaches earlier.
2. Safety Alert – issue a Safety Alert before the weekend (preferably on Friday 27th October) to prepare workers for the earlier dusk and ask them to stay alert during these times.  Warn your workers that their sleep patterns may change, which can affect their alertness.
3. Improve Security – consider installing CCTV (if you haven’t already done so) in order to deter intruders and trespassers from the construction site.
4. Check Site Perimeter - inspect site fencing and access points thoroughly and make sure that they are checked on a regular basis.  Any tampered areas or weaknesses should be fixed immediately to prevent unauthorised access to the site.
5. Campaign Poster – you can download a free “Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt” poster from the VPS website to display on your construction site.
 
By being proactive in this matter, you can help to ensure that your construction staff have the knowledge and understanding necessary to avoid the extra risks the shorter days bring.