Construction workers can often find themselves feeling neglected as a workforce, particularly if they’re working on a contract. Due to the nature of construction work, providing access to facilities that promote a positive workplace and improve morale can be difficult.
Construction sites are not the most habitable of workplaces, and this can be an issue when it comes enabling workplace welfare. Workplace welfare isn’t just about keeping high morale amongst workers, it is also centred around the health and wellbeing of your employees. In turn, this has a positive impact on productivity, with workers feeling as if their needs are met and they are operating in a comfortable working environment.
What Is Meant by “Welfare Facilities”?
Welfare facilities are essentially facilities that enable workers to work in a safe, hygienic, comfortable environment. This means things like adequate access to toilets for both men and women, access to clean water and hot water, and areas where workers are able to prepare meals and drinks. This is all essential to ensuring that workers can perform their duties successfully without any negative impact on their health or wellbeing.
Unite studied welfare facilities on UK construction sites in 2017 and discovered that nearly a quarter of all sites investigated had no access to hot water and approximately 14 per cent had no access to cold water either. The study also found that nearly half of the sites’ featured toilets that were not cleaned each day.
It is important to realise that providing clean and safe welfare facilities isn’t something that should be considered a luxury to workers. Instead, site operators should realise that access to these facilities is a basic human right for workers in the UK especially when welfare facilities can be easily purchased or rented.
The Impact of Poor Facilities
Poor welfare facilities can result in a number of negatives. For example, the spread of disease or illness is more likely in an environment without adequate handwashing facilities and clean toilets. This means an entire workforce could be at risk of disease or illness, simply because these facilities aren’t in place. Workers need to have access to handwashing facilities to use after going to the toilet, or after working with products or materials that contain harmful chemicals or substances. Furthermore, toilets that are not maintained properly can increase exposure to faeces which can lead to poor health of workers.
Without access to an area where workers can eat and drink, there is a risk of workers going without meals which not only can have a negative effect on morale but also on productivity and the health of the individual. Rest areas are also important, without access to tables and chairs where workers are able to sit during breaks, a number of health concerns can arise.
What Is Legally Required?
Some site owners are still operating illegally when it comes to providing the right welfare facilities for workers. The law states that workers on construction sites must have access to certain facilities in order for the site to be deemed legal. This includes providing clean toilets and access to soap, hand drying options, and both hot and cold water. In addition to this, sites must be equipped with both male and female toilets, or lockable individual toilets if this isn’t possible. In terms of the number of toilets that a site must provide, the law simply states that the number of toilets must be “adequate”, this generally translates to having enough toilets that workers aren’t required to queue for them.
Drinking water must also be provided on-site in some form and be easily accessible to workers. This prevents the risk of dehydration to workers that don’t bring (or forget to bring) their own drinks to work. Sites must also provide workers with a means to heat up food (either an oven or a microwave) and a clean and hygienic area that is not at risk of contamination. Furthermore, the site needs to be adequately equipped with enough tables and chairs to accommodate all workers. Rest areas are also required to have a form of heating of some kind, whether this is LPG heaters or plug-in radiators. Rest areas are required to be fully enclosed, meaning workers are not exposed to the elements at any time.
It is easy to see why adequate welfare facilities are important for construction workers. Regardless of the law, site owners and managers should be concerned about the welfare of their workers and strive to encourage a safe, clean and comfortable working environment. Comfortable workers are likely to be happier and morale will generally be higher, they’ll also be healthier overall, and this has a positive effect on business operations and ultimately the profits and reputation of the company. The legal requirements highlight the importance of construction welfare, and it’s only through research that conditions in the construction industry improve.
If you are a site owner or manager that sees the importance of providing excellent welfare facilities to your construction workers, then considering steel container hire in London can be a good solution. We understand how important it is to provide all construction workers with a comfortable working environment and meet legislation requirements. We offer several mobile site accommodation hire and site cabin options for a variety of sites that allow owners to provide workers with the facilities needed to keep both morale and productivity high.