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What are welfare facilities and why are they important?

What are welfare facilities?

Welfare facilities are an essential feature of most construction and remote work sites. There are a great many industries that rely on people who work outdoors, frequently in harsh conditions. These workers must be guaranteed certain legally stipulated levels of hygiene and comfort.

The facilities provided by companies to ensure these standards are met are known as welfare facilities.

construction workers

How can I find out what welfare facilities my workplace requires?

The provision of welfare facilities is covered under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. This legislation stipulates general workers rights and employer's duties, and directs the reader towards legislation that applies to specific industries such as construction, quarries or working at height.

As a general rule, every workplace must provide sanitary facilities and drinking water. The rest of the facilities to be provided will depend on the nature and location of work, but might include: a place for workers to eat and rest, sleeping accommodation, changing rooms, drying rooms and showers.

The number of toilets, tables, seats, beds, etc to be provided is detailed in the HSE publication L24 Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare. There are tables listing the number of facilities you must provide in view of the number of workers. This number may be subject to variation if there is too great a distance between the job site and facilities, as these must be close by.

What are the welfare facilities that I might have to provide?

All sites will require access to drinking water and toilet facilities.

Drinking water must be made available around the site, either on tap from clean water dispensers, from chillers or in sealed bottles. Cups must also be provided.

The toilet facilities provided must be kept clean and should include a hand wash basin, toilet paper, a coat hook and a sanitary waste bin if female employees are to make use of the facility. Toilet facilities can be for mixed use for men and women, but only when each facility is in a separate room, for use by one person at a time and has a lockable door.

It is a legal requirement that all employees, no matter the type of work, have access to hand wash basins with hot and cold running water. These basins must be large enough to allow a person to wash their hands and arms, up to the forearm. Soap and towels must also be provided.

construction workers

Shower facilities may be a requirement for certain work environments. As with toilet facilities, can be for mixed use for men and women, but only when the changing area and shower area are for individual use and protected by a lockable door.

If employees need to change into special work clothes, you will have to provide changing facilities that offer privacy to the worker and seating for changing comfortably.

A dining or canteen area must be provided for workers to eat their meals undisturbed. Enough seats and tablespace must be provided for all workers who eat at a single time. These areas should include food heating facilities if there is nowhere close by for workers to purchase hot food. A means for heating water to make hot beverages should be provided unless there is a vending machine for hot drinks onsite.

Sleeping accommodation may be necessary for some remote sites. When workers are expected to sleep onsite, showers must be provided, as well as adequate storage for personal effects and power sources for employees to charge phones and devices.

Site offices are usually optional, however may be necessary depending on the type of work to be carried out and the duration of the project. A site office must be fit for purpose, providing desk space and seating in accordance with the number of users.

These facilities are usually provided by the use of mobile welfare units on sites.

What are welfare units, and what types are there?

Welfare units are large container-style structures fitted out to incorporate different welfare facilities in accordance with their function. These cabins are designed to be light and compact enough to be towed from site to site without complication and are easy to set up. Depending on the internal configuration, there are different types of welfare units, including:

  • Canteen units
  • Office units
  • Accommodation units
  • Toilet units

Why are welfare facilities important?

The provision of high quality welfare facilities site promotes hygiene, comfort and health. Exposure to the elements can be strenuous and exhausting. Providing shelter and a resting place for workers who endure harsh working conditions improves worker comfort and significantly decreases worker illness and work-related accidents.

Modern welfare cabins are built with an increasing consideration for worker comfort, and improvements in insulation, air conditioning and heating are regularly made.

Modern welfare cabins are also built with sustainability in mind. New developments in energy saving features are regularly incorporated, as are the use of alternative power sources and environmentally-friendly materials, helping to make welfare cabin hire an energy-efficient, cost-effective service.

National Welfare Unit Hire with Welfare 4 Hire

If you would like more details on what welfare units are available for hire, or would like to speak to someone about the facilities you need to provide on your site, speak to Welfare 4 Hire today. With depots located in London, the Midlands, Gloucester, the North West and North East, 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 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