A safe, healthy and hygienic working environment is essential to protecting the welfare of your employees and that includes providing clean and safe amenities at or near work areas, as well as reasonable opportunity for workers to use them.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is currently monitoring static and mobile worksites as part of a national campaign to ensure workers have access to necessities. Businesses which do not provide suitable and accessible amenities will face enforcement action.
Adequate and accessible facilities include:
- clean cool drinking water
- safe and hygienic toilets, washing areas and meal rooms
- sheltered areas to take assigned breaks.
Employers must ensure work planning includes consulting with workers about amenities and understanding what is needed in relation to the work being performed. Changes to the work activity, such as increases in workforce numbers or engagement of additional sub-contractors, will likely increase facility requirements. Ongoing communication with workers will ensure the adequacy of amenities is monitored as well as their condition and maintenance.
When planning for amenities, consider:
- worker numbers, including gender demographics and workers with particular needs
- the type of work to be done
- the location of the site, its size and accessibility
- the need to travel around or between worksites
- requirements outside of normal hours, for example during a night shift
- safe access during required hours
- availability of power and water services.
Depending on the type of work, and requirements for specialist protective clothing (hazardous materials clothing etc), you may also be required to provide shower facilities for workers and enough changing rooms for those needing to use them. This includes separate facilities for men and women.
Amenities must always be provided for employees at their place of work. However, the place of work is not always simple: short term sites, mobile project sites and remote locations must also be accommodated where reasonably practicable. When providing facilities for mobile and remote worksites, consider:
- temporary portable toilets (connected to a sewerage system or sewer storage tank)
- portable shower and amenities blocks
- portable meal rooms and break areas
- establishment of a temporary depot where facilities are located.
For temporary facilities, employers must provide sufficient breaks, including sufficient travel time, to access the facilities. Security, safe access and hygiene must be sustained, as with permanent facilities, which includes regular cleaning and servicing.