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What does the HSE expect from your portable toilet provisions on construction sites?

Staying on the right side of the law and maintaining good standards of safety is crucial for any workplace, but construction sites must be particularly stringent in their adherence to guidelines set down by the Health and Safety Executive.

One of the most crucial, yet most often overlooked elements of construction site facilities are toilets and showers. These units are not a nice to have addition to the site, but rather an essential part of any working environment where people are present.

To help to give you a better idea of what the HSE expect from your portable toilet provisions, we’ve put together this easy to understand guide. This will give you the information required to make an informed decision on what you’ll need to provide to workers on your construction sites in terms of washing and toilet facilities.

When plumbed toilet facilities are not available

The HSE expects to see flushing toilets and running water in any workplace but understands that this isn’t always possible on construction sites. With projects that do not have nearby facilities, you must ensure that you provide chemical toilets instead.

These units must be well ventilated and in good working order, so choose your portable toilet supplier carefully to ensure that the portable toilets that you hire are in good condition and fit for purpose.

Hygiene and cleanliness

It is also expected that the portable toilets are maintained in a clean and sanitary condition to safeguard the health of wellbeing of contractors, site staff and visitors. This will mean that basic daily cleaning might not be adequate due to mud, dust and dirt present on site, so further provision for cleaning must be made. Should you choose to partner with Letloos for your portable toilet needs, a weekly steam cleaning service can be arranged for a regular deep clean, but a daily or even half daily clean should be arranged with a specialist cleaning contractor if necessary.

Number of toilets needed

The number of toilets required will depend on the amount of staff on site and the frequency that the toilets will need emptying by the supplier, The HSE suggest 1 portable toilet for every 7 workers according to the BS6465– 1:2006 standards where the toilet is emptied once per week. Should it require emptying twice a week, you should increase the number of toilets accordingly to 2 per 7 workers.

Toilets for men and women not always necessary

Although there is no set rule or recommendation set by the HSE that says that men and women cannot use the same portable toilets, this is only correct for single units without urinals. Any larger welfare units must contain a lockable door that separates any urinals from separate toilets should they be available.

However, if you would prefer to provide separate portable toilet facilities for use by the individual sexes, then that’s entirely your decision.

Sanitary disposal units must also be included in any type of portable toilet that may be used by women, and an adequate supply of toilet paper should also be readily available to both sexes.

Unisex washing facilities

The HSE insists that adequate washing facilities must be provided next to both toilets and changing areas where ever possible. If the site layout hinders this, then place washing facilities close to rest areas such as site cabs instead.

These washing facilities must include the following items to ensure that they will be accepted as adequate provisions by the HSE:

  • A supply of clean hot and cold, or warm, water (which should be running water so far as is reasonably practicable)
  • Soap or other suitable means of cleaning
  • Paper or fabric towels or other suitable means of drying
  • Sufficient ventilation and lighting
  • Sinks large enough to wash face, hands and forearms.

These sink washing facilities can be shared by both men and women.

Letloos supply a range of hot wash toilets for hire that provides the perfect solution to both toileting and washing needs. Providing hot or warm running water, they are available for both short and long-term hire and give workers constant access to premium facilities.

Showers

Where workers are subjected to particularly dirty conditions or working with hazardous substances such as contaminated earth, or demolishing old buildings that have potentially hazardous substances, showers should be provided to help wash away any potentially harmful particles from the hair and skin.

In these cases, the portable shower units must be located away from the main toileting facilities to avoid contaminating others. For those working in tunnelling or working with lead or asbestos, specialist provisions must be made to safeguard worker health as hot showers alone will not be sufficient. 

Although not always necessary for all construction sites, shower facilities are much appreciated by workers who can use them to clean up before heading home for the day. However, any showers must be assigned to men or women and have lockable doors.

An all-in-one solution

As you can see, the HSE rules and regulations on portable toilets, washing facilities and showers are strict and depend on a variety of different circumstances. However, to keep all site workers healthy and happy, Letloos provides welfare units for hire that contain everything that you could possibly need to adhere to the HSE regulations. 

Designed to be fully compliant with health, safety and welfare regulations, each welfare unit contains hot wash facilities and is stocked with essentials, including a separate toilet and showering area, a table and seating area for breaks plus a kettle, microwave, soap, toilet roll and even a box of biscuits, so that they are ready to be used from the point of delivery. Delivered thoroughly steamed cleaned with a weekly clean scheduled for each week of hire, Letloos will empty the unit of waste on a regular basis and ensure that it stays clean, hygienic and within the HSE guidelines during the hire period and beyond.