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Research highlights impact of budget cuts on safety

19 February 2024

NEW RESEARCH from Watco has examined the complexities of the facilities management (FM) industry, and how they impact the safety and smooth running within the modern facility.

It revealed that almost two thirds (60%) of facilities managers have had their budgets cut by up to 25% in the past year, with a further fifth (20%) hit even harder with a reduction of 26-50%. A third (33%) agree that budget cuts have posed risks to safety within their business in the past year.

The survey of 250 senior FM professionals highlighted the tangible impact of these budget cuts on the frequency of incidents in the workplace. Over a third (36%) revealed that the use of materials handling equipment had resulted in an accident or near-miss in their business in the last year. On top of this, slips, trips and falls were an issue, with only a quarter of respondents claiming they weren’t affected by these in the last year. 

Scott Saunders, technical service manager at Watco, commented: “It is shocking to see the widespread impacts of budget cuts and this raises real concerns around managing safety within facilities. FMs are not getting any less stretched, therefore tightening budgets only stand to increase the pressure being piled on. An improved approach to inspection, repair and maintenance can significantly help to reduce downtime and the costs of running a safe and well-maintained facility, however, the impact of tighter budgets on workplace experience cannot be overlooked.” 

But it's not just budget cuts that are impacting health and safety. Over a quarter (28%) of FMs say that employees aren’t aware of potential hazards and don’t know how to control or report risks. Furthermore, only 34% undertake a thorough site audit/risk assessment at least once a year, and almost half of FMs (40%) struggle to find the time to complete repair jobs as soon as they’re spotted. 

The latest research follows a survey conducted by Watco in 2022 which uncovered that on average, facilities were suffering 27 days of downtime per year due to maintenance work, with multiple respondents disclosing that £1million or more had been spent on urgent repair work each month. 

Furthermore, the new research revealed that almost half (41%) of FMs agree their workload has increased in the past year, up from 29% in 2022’s survey. With more than 1 in 3 often thinking about leaving their role due to workload stress.

Scott concludes, "Last year’s data highlighted significant FM challenges with substantial amounts of time and money being lost. This year, we’ve dug even deeper into the impacts on today’s facility.

“The results demonstrate how interconnected the FM responsibilities are, and how making a change in one area can have several positive effects. For example, a FM could use digital tools to streamline the hazard/damage reporting process. By pairing this with training for the wider facility team, they are empowered with the know-how to report damages immediately and accurately. As a result, the responsibility of site inspection and reporting is shared between the facility, reducing the strain on the FM team, damages and hazards are identified and logged reliably and complementary digital tools can be used to schedule, order products, and simplify the jobs required for a swift repair and removal of the safety hazard.” 

For more information, download Watco’s free report: https://www.watco.co.uk/overcoming-the-fm-landscapes-complexities