Legal Requirements for Welfare Facilities

Minimum welfare requirements on construction sites.

Construction sites, rail works, civil engineering projects and infrastructure developments are typically some of the least accommodating work environments on the planet. Working on these sites often involves hard physical labour and bearing the discomfort of weather conditions and lack of amenities. For this reason, there are strict legal requirements for welfare facilities on construction sites.

HSE policy dictates that all workers in construction and other similar sites, including moving or remote sites, must have access to drinking water, toilet and washing facilities and shelter that should include a place to rest, as well as a place to warm and eat their food. Storage must also be provided for clothing and personal belongings, as well as a space for drying outdoor clothing.

What Are The Benefits Of A Site Office?

Clients — Ultimately the responsibility for ensuring that legal requirements for welfare facilities are met and that said facilities are provided lies with the client. This is not extensive to domestic clients. HSE policy differentiates between a family hiring a contractor for a home refurbishment and a business hiring a contractor or employing workers to carry out a construction project. In the case of residential clients, the responsibility falls on the contractor hired. In all other cases, the client bears the ultimate responsibility for welfare provision, although this will usually be organised through contractors.

It is important to remember that, if the work is notifiable (it lasts more than 30 days or will involve more than 500 person days of work) this work must not start until suitable welfare facilities are in place. This includes demolition work.

CDM coordinators — Construction, design and management coordinators usually fulfil the role of calculating and designing welfare provisions for large projects. CDM coordinators should inform clients and/or contractors of the specific requirements for each site or project.

Principal contractors — Principle contractors should ensure that appropriate welfare facilities are available at the project outset and oversee that these facilities remain appropriate throughout the duration of the project, demanding any adaptations, maintenance or repair throughout the course of the project.

Contractors (including the self-employed) — All contractors should ensure that onsite welfare facilities regulations and requirements are met. Any failings in welfare provision should be notified to the principal contractor, CDM contractor or the client (as appropriate, in accordance with the project's chain of command). Any special provisions required, including requirements for disabled workers or for pregnant or breastfeeding women, should be notified in advance wherever possible.

Construction sites can be harsh environments and meeting the legal requirements for welfare is taken very seriously. A company's failure to provide adequate welfare facilities for workers can result in warnings, fines and the suspension of projects. Fortunately, there are a great variety of welfare facilities available to hire around the country. Welfare 4 Hire provides a range of welfare cabins to suit projects of all sizes.

What are the minimum welfare requirements on construction sites?

Construction sites and any remote sites must ensure they provide all of their workers with access to the following facilities and amenities:

Toilets — Sufficient number of toilets for all personnel on site must be provided. The BS 6465 - 1:2006 code of practice recommends a ratio of 1 toilet to 7 persons on sites where workers are working a 40 hour week and where portable toilets are emptied once a week. In the case that several shifts may be working on a site, or that visitors or subcontractors may frequent the site, the number of units must be increased accordingly. For greater comfort and hygiene, flushing toilets connected to mains drainage systems should be provided. When this is not possible, the next best option is to provide units with a built-in water supply and drainage tanks. Portable chemical toilets are considered only as a last resort, these toilets cannot compete with the standards of comfort and hygiene found in mobile welfare and towable 1+1 toilets and should only be considered when no other option is possible. Toilets should be well ventilated and kept clean. Onsite toilets can be unisex, providing that toilet cubicles are lockable and partitioned away from men's urinals. Toilet facilities used by women must contain sanitary waste disposal bins. All toilets should contain a sufficient supply of toilet paper.

Washing facilities — Welfare facilities' regulations for construction sites include the provision of wash basins and showers. Sinks for handwashing should always be placed near toilets and food handling areas. Provide washing facilities next to both toilets and changing areas. Where showers are required, these must be placed by changing areas. Washing facilities should include hot and cold (or warm) water. This should be running water, if possible. Sinks should be large enough to wash hands and forearms. These facilities must include soap (or similar products), towels, paper towels or other means of drying. Shower or wash areas should be well-lit and well-ventilated. Both men and women can make use of the same showers providing that these are in lockable rooms for individual use.

For dirty work with hazardous materials, showers must be placed at a distance from the main facilities. There are special site welfare requirements for certain activities, such as working with lead or asbestos.

Drinking water — Drinking water should be available to all workers on site.

Changing rooms and lockers — Changing rooms and lockers are a requirement on all sites. Secure storage for clothing and personal items must be provided, as well as changing areas for men and separate changing areas for women.

Provisions must be made for the separate storage of dirty or contaminated clothing, and well-ventilated, heated drying rooms should be provided for wet clothes.

Special provisions may apply in situations where work clothing becomes contaminated with hazardous materials.

Rest facilities — Legal requirements for welfare state that all sites must offer adequate rest facilities. These facilities must provide shelter from adverse weather conditions, as well as from the heat and the cold. These rest facilities, usually in the form of canteen areas, must provide sufficient seating with backs and sufficient table space to accommodate all workers. There should be means for making hot drinks and for heating-up food. These areas must be adequately heated to ensure worker comfort.

Sleeping units should be far from the noise of the main worksite to ensure optimal rest for the occupants. These units must offer heating, lighting and access to power for charging mobile phones or plugging in other devices.

Heating and Ventilation — Appropriate heating and ventilation are a necessity in most welfare facilities. There are a number of heating systems that can be used, but it is imperative that heating systems are safe for use in confined areas and that all precautions are taken to avoid fire hazards. LPG systems are not recommended for use in welfare facilities.

Increasingly, there is demand for air conditioning to be provided in the summer months. This is something that more and more welfare cabin manufacturers are taking into account.

National Welfare Unit Hire with Welfare 4 Hire

If you are seeking welfare units for hire or would like to know more about the legal requirements for welfare facilities, speak to Welfare 4 Hire today. With depots located in London, the Midlands, Gloucester, the North West and North East as well as Scotland and Wales, we are proud to be able to provide nationwide welfare cabin hire services to suit projects of all sizes. We offer competitive prices and quick, reliable delivery on all of our welfare units. Get in touch today with Welfare 4 Hire today on:

London Depot: 020 3846 1111
Midlands Depot: 0121 272 7766
North West Depot: 0161 507 3700
Gloucester Depot: 01452 689 500
North East Depot: 0191 486 2576