Construction welfare: Toilets and washing
This page tells you what you need to provide for construction workers in terms of toilets and washing facilities.
Toilets need to be adequate for the work. There are two main types:
- Flushing toilets – provide these where possible. Connect them to mains water and drainage systems where available. Otherwise, use toilets with a built-in water supply and drainage tanks.
- Chemical toilets – portable chemical toilets (also known as plastics) are acceptable where you cannot provide flushing toilets. They may be the only achievable way of providing toilet facilities at the start and / or end of some projects. They are more common on temporary and smaller sites or in addition to permanent facilities on more remote parts of larger sites.
Place washing facilities next to the toilets and any changing rooms. They should include:
- clean hot and cold, or warm running water
- soap or other suitable means of cleaning
- towels or other suitable means of drying
- adequate ventilation and lighting
- showers may also be needed depending on the work being done
Sinks / washbasins need to allow workers to wash their hands, face and forearms properly. Check the sink size and tap location allow this. Some portable toilets only have a hand sanitiser and a small sink. This is inadequate unless other suitable washing facilities are nearby. Portable toilets with bigger sinks and hot / warm water are available.
Hand washing should not generally take place in the same areas you use for eating and drinking. It is particularly important to provide washing facilities separate from eating and rest areas where you are exposing workers to hazardous substances like cement, lead or micro-organisms. This is to control the risk of contamination.
There are some issues common to both toilets and washing facilities:
- Number – this depends on how many workers are on site and the ratio of men to women. As an indication, you can use Table 1 and 2 in the ACOP to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. These regulations do not apply to construction sites but do give a guide to the numbers needed.
If you are using chemical toilets, BSI standard (BS6465-1-2006) recommends one plastic toilet to seven persons working a 40-hour week. However, you will also need to take into account how frequently they are serviced / emptied. Chemical toilets are usually serviced / emptied weekly as part of a hire contract. You may need to have this done more regularly or hire more units depending on use.
- Men and women – they may use the same toilet providing it is in a lockable room separate from any urinals. Provide sanitary waste disposal in facilities used by female workers. Men and women can share sinks for washing hands, face and arms. You can also provide unisex shower facilities if they are in a separate, lockable room, which one person can use at a time.
- Electrical safety – many units have electrically heated water for washing. The electrical installation will probably be 240v as 110v water heaters may not be suitable. You will need to take some simple precautions to prevent the risk of electrical injury.
- Cleaning – toilets and washing facilities need regular cleaning. You need arrangements for this. Take into account the nature of the work and conditions on site. Daily cleaning may not be enough – eg if the site is muddy.
- Consumables – toilet paper, soap, paper towels etc can quickly run out. Make sure this does not happen and there are enough spare supplies.
- Ventilation and lighting – toilets and washing areas need good ventilation and lighting.