Quality lighting very important for office workers in UK, especially in the winter darkness

UK workers have revealed in a recent survey carried out by interior design company, ‘staples’, that they crave better quality of lighting, especially when dealing with lack of daylight due to the darkness caused by winter seasons. Many workers are commuting to their office in darkness and spending most of their day in offices with lighting that is below their desired standard.

In a recent survey, 80% of office workers in the UK stated that having good lighting in their office environment is important to them. However, with little access to natural light, many workers expressed their frustration, with at least 40% of those surveyed stating that they felt they were dealing with lighting that was uncomfortable on a daily basis. With 32% saying that better lighting would improve their overall mood in the office.

Sir Cary Cooper, a  professor at the Alliance Manchester Business School commented on the effect that poor lighting can have on office workers in the UK: “The workplace is really important for the health, well being and performance of employees, so having the right physical and psychological environment is critical. Most people are currently spending more of their daylight hours at work than at home, so lighting is clearly an important part of getting the balance right at work.”

Well-being support more important than Christmas parties, say workers

Research published by Shine Workplace Wellbeing found that last year, UK employers spent an average of £86.44 per person at their work Christmas party. However, it was also found that if they were given the choice, almost three quarters of employees (74 per cent) would rather this money was invested to help the overall health and well-being of staff.

The survey was conducted by asking 300 UK workers whether they would rather a £100 allocation from their employer was spent on a Christmas party or activities and support to improve physical and mental health, such as sports memberships, yoga classes, and talks on mental health awareness. As stated above, 74 per cent would rather the money was spent on the latter.

Women were shown to be the biggest advocates of well-being support, with 80 per cent favouring this over a night out, compared to 67 per cent of male workers. The outcomes were fairly consistent across age groups, with only 30 per cent of 18-24-year-olds choosing the party option, which was the largest demographic. The most likely profession to have chosen well-being support over the party was those working in education, while employees in construction were most likely to have wanted the money spent on festive celebrations.

Revolution of Electrical Vehicles predicted to create over 1 million new jobs

More than 1 million new jobs are being expected to be created within the European electric vehicle market by 2050, this according to a new study carried out by AIE (European Association of Electrical Contractors).

In their report, AIE discovered that full electrification of the passenger vehicle market across the current 28 members of the EU would more than likely generate more than 1 million jobs (roughly 1.2 million).

These jobs would include various roles such as the manufacturing, installation, as well as the operation and maintenance of charging points and batteries, alongside the generation of electricity.

This means that even if only 35% of new cars that are registered in the EU by 2030 are electric, at least 200,000+ jobs will be created in the electrical vehicle market. This figure should be set to more than double the numbers lost in the traditional fuel powered car market, as a result of the EV revolution.

Many workers too stressed about finances to enjoy Christmas

A recent survey conducted by global employee engagement company Reward Gateway has uncovered the extent of financial stress that workers in the UK feel at Christmas time. According to the research, over half of people are seriously concerned about the costs of the festive period.

The study indicated the various ways that workers finance these costs; 40 per cent use money from their savings, 32 per cent cover costs with credit cards, 21 per cent have to dip in to their overdrafts and 10 per cent rely on borrowing money from parents to fund Christmas.

This survey included 1,196 British workers, and showed that they overspend on average £5.95 billion each year during the festive period. This takes most people around three months to pay off in the new year, causing a huge financial burden for many workers. Despite this however, only 16 per cent of participants said that they receive some sort of financial support from their employers during this time.

The affect of this stress is likely to be detrimental for many businesses; 53 per cent of employees admitted that the financial stress surrounding Christmas distracted them from everyday activities, while over a third said they typically found it harder to stay motivated at work during this time.

British workers as a whole have made it clear that they would welcome support to ease their debts after Christmas highlighting various costs that they would appreciate help with, suggesting a need to look into financial well-being solutions for large companies.

Spurs stadium on course for further delay, running into the New Year

A spokesperson for Tottenham has today confirmed that there will be a further delay on the opening of their new stadium, with the earliest date set to be late January / early February. The premier league club have announced that their scheduled January 13th home game against Manchester United will be once again hosted at the now familiar, temporary home stadium of Wembley.

Spurs announced that: “The past few months have been spent rectifying issues with the critical safety systems. We are pleased to report that progress has been steady and we are now into the integrated testing and commissioning phases that take place ahead of the application for a stadium safety certificate. Testing is being conducted both during the day and night and our contractors will continue to work during the Christmas period. Barring no further significant issues we should then be in a position to schedule Test Events. This does mean therefore that we need to confirm that our Premier League home game against Manchester United will take place at Wembley. We shall receive a status report from our contractors in the week commencing 7 January 2019 and will update you thereafter.”

Their chairman, Daniel Levy, also commented on the delay: “We are acutely conscious that we are asking fans to go to Wembley for far longer than any of us wanted to. However we are now seeing the progress that we needed to see. What I don’t want to do is set any firm dates until we have finally achieved a safety certificate. So many people tell me to look at other major schemes that run late and, whilst I know it happens often, we are still hugely frustrated. It is important, however, to recognise the sheer complexity of the scheme. It will be one of the first fully-integrated digital stadiums and will also be required to meet the latest and most stringent safety regulations.”

Despite the stadium delay, Tottenham have still managed to have a highly impressive start to their premier league campaign, currently sitting just 6 points from the top of the table. This being their best ever start to a premier league season.

Further electrical safety tips issued ahead of festive period

There have been further calls to try and help older neighbours and friends ensure the safety of electrical products in their homes, following recent advice from the charity Electrical Safety First (ESF). ESF highlighted the disproportionate amount of fires that affect older people who live alone, that may be less aware of the safest ways to use their appliances. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) have reiterated the direction of the charity encouraging people to check on their elderly neighbours and see that their electrical products are being treated safely.

Last year in England, 3,849 accidental electrical fires were reported in the homes of people aged 65 and over, and 81% of these occurred in homes of residents who live alone. NFRS believe that checking on elderly neighbours and friends who live alone can help to significantly reduce these numbers, and have issued some directions on electrical safety to help:

  • Watch out for overloaded plug sockets
  • Keep flammable materials away from electrical outlets and microwaves
  • Make sure heaters are being used safely – not left on unattended
  • Check electric blankets are in good condition and instructions are being followed

When ignored, these may all pose a danger of creating an electrical fire, and the last two pieces of advice are especially important during the winter months. Furthermore, the festive period is likely to see more electrical appliances brought into homes, so it is more important than ever to heed this advice and make sure vulnerable people are using them safely.

Christmas tree fire destroys family home as lives are saved by family dog

A family home was badly damaged by a fire which broke out when their Christmas tree that had been decorated with electrical lights, caught fire. The mother of the family, Nicola Jackson, has heaped praise on their family dog, Bella, for alerting the whole family to the imminent threat as the fire was starting to make its way through the house. The fire broke as everyone in the house was asleep and luckily Bella the dog began to bark alerting Nicola of the danger which occurred.

Nicola also claimed that it could be weeks before they can return to their home in Morriston, Swansea, so they have temporarily moved to a hotel.

She said her daughters Nia and Eva have been asking: “Will Santa still visit?” “It just breaks my heart,” she added. “We should be having a normal Christmas like most families.”

Shortly after the fire had been subdued, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the fire had started on the tree, due to faulty electrical lighting. Fire Station manager Richard Felton felt that the public should be warned that “the Christmas season brings its own fire risks”.

Nicola, who runs a play centre business, said that the blaze broke out only a few days after they had finished decorating their 6ft Christmas tree. When she ventured downstairs to investigate the dog’s barking, she noticed the smoke and flames coming from the living room.

After seeing this, she immediately ran upstairs to the rescue of her daughters, eventually taking them outside, returning to look for her husband who had been asleep on the sofa. She described her fear in the heat of the moment: “I was crying and screaming but I had to go back in even though it was a stupid decision. I have had so many messages of support. People have bought us clothes and food, but I don’t know how to say thank you. I’ve never been in this situation where people are helping me on such a big scale.”

More businesses commit to employing ex-offenders

Justice Secretary David Gauke has spoken this week about successful efforts to increase employment for ex-offenders, highlighting that more than 120 additional companies have committed to achieving this. This follows on sixth months from the initiation of the Education and Employment Strategy, which set out a scheme to increase prisoners’ skills while in custody with the aim to help them secure paid work on release.

Reoffending is a big problem in this country and is shown to be costing the taxpayer around £15 billion each year. A big factor in why people re-offend is the difficulty for them to achieve employment after being in prison; evidence shows they are far less likely to commit further crime if they find work. The central concept of the strategy is to encourage a change in the culture among companies to see beyond an offenders past and give them a fresh start.

The recent businesses that have joined the scheme make up over 300 UK companies that have seen the benefits of employing those with a criminal past. The businesses cover a range of industries, and ex-offenders could be working for employers such as Virgin Trains, DHL and Recycling Lives. The new participating businesses will work with the Ministry of Justice to build relationships will local prisons to gain access to potential employees.

CEO of Amey, Andy Milner, said; “At Amey, we believe in hiring the best people for the job, no matter what their background or history. For us, hiring ex-offenders is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense.

“There is a growing skills gap within our industry and within our prison population there is a pool of highly motivated people learning new skills such as engineering, carpentry and plumbing who just need someone to believe in them to help change their lives.”

Workplace injuries and sickness costing UK 4.3 million days of productivity

According to research from Direct Line, businesses are losing at least an average of 1.4 million days of workers productivity each year due to illness and / or some type of injury or sickness.

The newly found research discovered that workers took as much as 4.3 million sick days between 2014 and 2017, almost 600,000 (568,000) of those days are the result of accidents occurring in the workplace. Since 2014, 147,000 workers have been off for at least more than 7 consecutive days. On top of this, an average of 3,927 workers had called in sick or injured every single day.

An example for highlighting dangers in the construction industry, and how risky it can be, was that from the year of 2012 to 2017, there were at least 26,196 non-fatal accidents recorded whilst victims were on building sites. With 196 of accidents proving fatal. Perhaps not too surprising was the fact that just under half (49%) of fatal accidents that occurred on a building site were the result of falls from height.

There were just over 100,000 non-fatal accidents that lead to injury as a result of slips, trips or falls but from no considerable height. Whilst nearly 90,000 (84,734) non-fatal accidents were the result of workers carrying, lifting or handling something.

Between the years of 2015 and 2016 almost 250 (246) of construction related cases were brought to trial by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) for failure to meet standards. Around 205 of the cases ended up with the employers being issued a fine. The number of fines as a result of a trial fell to 156 in the years between 2016 and 2017, as well as the number of convictions for cases brought to trial which fell to 206.

Within the years of 2016 and 2017 we saw the lowest number of fatal accidents in the construction industry for the last 5 years with just 30 deaths, 17 less than between 2015 and 2016.

Head of Direct Line for Business, Matt Boatwright, commented: “Our research highlights that further improvements could be made to ensure productivity does not suffer due to sick days following accidents at work. Many jobs are dangerous, but the construction industry in particular comes with a lot of risks. A simple slip or fall could have disastrous consequences for an employee and a business as a whole. Business owners should ensure they have the appropriate cover in place to cover them should they be liable for an accident occurring due to the work they are undertaking. Employers’ liability will cover them if an employee is injured and public liability cover will be required in the event that an injury is caused to a third party.”

Apprenticeship Levy claimed to be causing apprenticeships to fall

Recent data has shown that less young people across the UK are taking up apprenticeships compared to past years. According to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the Apprenticeship Levy which is imposed on employers must be made more flexible for the numbers of Apprenticeships to increase once more.

The statistics in question were published in the last few days by the Department for Education, and show that there has been a 24 per cent decline in apprenticeship starts during the 2017/18 academic year compared with 2016/17.

Chief executive of the FMB, Brian Berry, explains why they believe changes must be made to the Apprenticeship Levy: “Apprenticeships are falling and the government must take urgent action to reverse the decline. At the recent Conservative Party Conference, the government announced much-needed reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy, but these do not go far enough. From April 2019, large firms will be allowed to pass 25 per cent of levy vouchers down through the supply chain to smaller firms but the FMB is calling for this to be increased to 100 per cent.

“This is an important change because in construction it’s the smaller firms that train more than two-thirds of all apprentices. Conversely, large firms don’t tend to directly employ or train trades people. If the government is serious about creating three million quality apprenticeships by 2020, it must ensure the Apprenticeship Levy works for the construction industry.”