Industry newspaper Construction News recently uncovered adverts for 15-hour a day jobs on the Aberdeen Bypass. The roles are for people to operate heavy machinery, including wheeled excavators for up to 80 hours a week. The adverts were withdrawn after Construction News made enquiries with Transport Scotland and the project’s joint venture partners, Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty.
The primary contractors have denied posting the adverts and are investigating where they originated.
This is not the first time Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project has made headlines for what appear to be unsafe working practices. Another Construction News report revealed that several workers had quit due to stress and exhaustion related to long working hours. Former staff produced evidence that they regularly worked for more than 70 hours a week, with some managing sites for 13 hours at a time.
When told about the recent job ads, one worker who quit due to overwork expressed his dismay: “I’m shocked. After everything that’s appeared in the press about the safety conditions on that project, how can such long working hours be shamelessly advertised? “I got so tired I didn’t feel I could do my job properly anymore and I was worried that, with everyone else as tired as I was, we would be unable to prevent a serious accident taking place. I quit the project because I was working the type of hours that these adverts openly ask for.”
MSP Lewis Macdonald has asked for a public probe into safety issues on the project, saying: “This is supposed to be a flagship infrastructure project – and so should be the gold standard in terms of health and safety as well as the conditions for workers on the project. But testimony from workers on the project tell an entirely different story – and these adverts will only reinforce those reports.”
Numerous studies have shown links between working hours and health issues. Overwork can lead to both stress and fatigue, which in turn have damaging effects on health and performance. The concern at a major building site such as the Aberdeen road works is that workers will be too fatigued to function – leading to a major incident. The project also reported a flipped bulldozer recently, which could be another sign that workers’ fatigue is affecting performance.
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