Every employee deserves a clean and comfortable working environment. And under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, every business owner is required to get the basics right – from toilets to traffic routes.
Companies are often confused about the facilities they’re expected to provide so we’ve explained the eight fundamentals of a well-run workplace.
Hand washing facilities (and showers, if required by the nature of the work or for health reasons) need to be provided at readily accessible places in the immediate vicinity of every sanitary convenience. Facilities must be well maintained and include a supply of clean hot and cold, or warm, water, soap or other cleansing products and towels or other suitable means of drying.
Every workplace needs sufficient lighting to enable people to work, use facilities without experiencing eyestrain and safely move from place to place.
Employees or visitors shouldn’t have to queue for a long period of time to use the toilet. For mixed use or female-only toilets, you should have:
- One toilet if you have between one and five employees
- Two toilets for between 6 and 25 employees
- Three toilets for between 26 and 50 employees
- Four toilets for between 51 and 75 employees
- Five toilets for between 76 and 100 employees
It’s also important to remember that in toilets that will be used by women, you must provide a means to dispose of sanitary materials. It goes without saying that your toilet facilities need to be hygienic and clean at all times and that essentials like soap and toilet paper should always be available.
Floor and traffic routes
Floors or traffic routes surfaces should be clear of holes, slopes or uneven areas that could present trip hazards. They should be kept free from obstructions and any article or substance that may cause a person to slip, trip or fall. Traffic routes should be organised so that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner.
Your workplace and its furniture, furnishings and fittings need to be kept sufficiently clean. Waste materials should not be allowed to accumulate, except in appropriate receptacles.
If an employee’s work requires them to change into and wear specialist clothing – like a uniform or personal protective equipment (otherwise known as PPE) – then you need to provide suitable changing facilities. You must also ensure you have separate facilities for men and women.
Your changing facilities should be easily accessible and private, contain or be next to clothing storage and washing facilities, include a means to sit down and enable employees to hang their clothing somewhere. A simple hook or peg will do the job.
Facilities for rest breaks
Workers require a rest room with an adequate number of tables and chairs to use during breaks. There should be a means for employees to heat and eat food or drink in a sanitary, contamination-free environment, as well as a supply of clean drinking water.
Facilities for pregnant employees
If you have any pregnant employees, you should provide, as far as is reasonably practicable, rest facilities that allow the expectant mother to lie down.
As far as reasonably practicable?
As an employer, you need to meet all the above requirements as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’. This means unless it’s demonstrably awkward due to factors like time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty. When establishing if something is reasonably practicable, sensibly use your judgement in terms of how much you would truly have to go out of your way.