Legal Requirements for Welfare Facilities on Construction Sites

Legal Requirements for Welfare Facilities on Construction Sites

21st February 2018

A recent survey of construction workers here in the UK has resulted in some shocking revelations on the state of welfare facilities on construction sites across Britain.  Alarmingly, many sites are failing to meet the legal requirements for workplace welfare toilet facilities.  Legislation requires that an employer has to provide adequate toilet and washing facilities for employees.  Adequate can be a pretty ambiguous word, but what it means in this case is that the following must be provided:

  • Enough toilets and washbasins for those who are expected to use them – people should not have to queue for a long time to go to the toilet.Safety Ladders - Site Toilet

  • Where possible, separate toilet facilities for men and women – where that is not possible, rooms with lockable doors.

  • Clean facilities – walls and floors should preferably be tiled or covered in suitable waterproof material to make them easier to clean.

  • A supply of toilet paper and, for female employees, a means of disposing of sanitary products.

  • Facilities that are ventilated and well-lit.

  • Facilities with hot and cold running water.

  • A supply of soap or other washing agents.

  • A basin that’s large enough to wash hands and forearms

  • A means of drying hands, such as paper towels or a hot air dryer.

  • Showers where necessary, for instance when the work being carried out is particularly dirty.

The number of facilities that should be provided is as follows:

Number of employees

Number of Toilets

Number of Washbasins

1 – 5



6 – 25



26 – 50



51 – 75



76 – 100




In cases where employees are working in remote locations that don’t have suitable plumbing and a water supply, chemical toilets should be supplied, along with washing facilities such as water containers.  When it comes to temporary worksites – as far as is reasonably practicable, flushing toilets and running water should be supplied.  Portable cabins converted to toilet facilities are available for hire.  Relying on using public toilets and washing facilities should be considered a last resort, rather than the cheapest option.

When it comes to the provision of drinking water, the law requires that it’s provided and:

  • Is free from contamination, preferably from a public water supply.

  • Is easily accessible by all staff.

  • There are adequate supplies taking into consideration temperature of the work environment and the type of work activity.

  • That cups or a drinking fountain are provided.

Legislation covering meal breaks requires that there be a suitable seating area for use during breaks that is clean and in a location where food will not become contaminated.  There should also be washing facilities nearby and a means of heating water and food, with good standards of hygiene

If the work carried out requires employees to change and/or wear specialist clothing (overalls, uniforms, etc.), changing rooms must be provided for the number of people expected to use them.  Changing rooms should:

  • Be readily accessible.

  • Contain, or lead to, clothing storage and washing facilities.

  • Provide seating.

  • Provide a means for hanging clothes (such as a hook/peg).

  • Ensure privacy for the user.

Separate changing rooms for men and women should be available.  If applicable, provide separate storage for clean and contaminated clothing and make sure employees’ street clothing doesn’t come into contact with dirty or wet work clothes.