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Welfare on site: getting your responsibilities right.

When it comes to providing for the welfare of workers on site, the law holds both the client and the contractor responsible for

ensuring adequate facilities are available.

The provision of welfare facilities should be discussed and clearly marked out from the earliest stages of project planning and laid out in pre-construction information. Work should not begin on notifiable projects until the client is satisfied that all the required welfare facilities are in place.

Whilst the client is responsible for making sure that the required welfare provisions are in place on their project, it is the responsibility of the contractor to provide these facilities and to maintain them for the duration of the work on site. Where there are site specific challenges the client is expected to cooperate and assist the contractor in providing these facilities.

So what kind of welfare facilities do you as a contractor need to provide for your workforce?

Any workers on any site must - as a minimum - have access to an adequate toilet and washing facility, somewhere to prepare and eat snacks or meals and a place to store and dry any clothing or protective gear needed for their job.

Depending on the scale of your project, the number of workers, the type and location of the job, some or all of the following welfare facilities may be required on site:

  • Toilets - these must be well lit and ventilated and kept clean and tidy for use and must include separate washing facilities for use immediately after using the toilet or urinal.
  • Washing facilities - these must have basins or sinks that are suitably large for workers to wash their hands, forearms and face and must include hot and cold running water, soap, towels for drying and - in the case of particularly dirty work or jobs that require decontamination - a shower.
  • Drinking water - must be provided for workers or be readily accessible on site, either from a drinking fountain or from a tap with cups provided.
  • Rest facilities - must be equipped with enough tables and seats with backs to accommodate the number of people reasonably expected to use the facility at any one time. The rest area must have facilities for the preparation and consumption of food and drink during breaks, including access to boiled water. If the weather is cold these areas must be provided with heating.
  • Changing rooms and lockers - must be provided in cases where workers need to change into special clothing to do their work and cannot reasonably be expected to do so before coming to site. There must be seating and drying facilities provided and a locker or other means of securing clothing and personal items.

Providing proper welfare facilities for your workers is not just a matter of legal compliance and meeting the basic needs of your workers, it also sets a positive tone for a project and demonstrates commitment to your workers wellbeing, as well as mitigating some of the risk from hazardous substances and microorganisms onsite. Make sure you know what is required of you and how you can make your site safe and healthy for your workforce.

For more information see the HSE website guidance: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/welfare/index.htm

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