11th August, 2022

What Welfare Facilities The CDM Regulations Say You Need On A Construction Site (By Law)

The CDM regulations have specific requirements about welfare facilities on construction sites. You must provide them - it's the law. Welfare facilities include sanitary conveniences (toilets, washing, etc.), drinking water, places for rest, and washing and changing facilities. Let's find out more about what's required.

What Welfare Facilities The CDM Regulations Say You Need On A Construction Site (By Law) header image

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (known as the CDM regulations) apply to all construction work in the UK.

You might know about the CDM regulations requiring certain appointments, like the principal contractor and principal designer. Or for requiring certain documents, like the construction phase plan.

But there are other parts of the CDM regulations that are not talked about as much. The regulations go beyond the management duties placed upon the project team, to detail more specific requirements for construction sites themselves.

The CDM regulations are specific to construction projects. And while welfare facilities are needed in all workplaces (people need the toilet in all industries!), the CDM regulations have extra requirements for welfare facilities on construction sites.

These welfare facilities include:

Before CDM 2015, we had CDM 2007. And CDM 2007 was the first version of the regulations that incorporated the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.

So, since 2007, the CDM regulations have been the go-to guide for construction welfare facilities!

Although CDM 2015 updated the 2007 regulations, not much changed regarding welfare facilities, so the requirements now are pretty much what they were back in 2007.

Since the CDM regulations incorporate the previous Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996, it will be of no surprise that somewhere in the CDM Regulations, the requirements for welfare facilities are covered.

You can find the requirements for welfare facilities tucked away within Schedule 2 of the CDM Regulations.

Minimum welfare facilities required for construction sites

Schedule 2 of the CDM regulations is titled 'Minimum welfare facilities required for construction sites'.

This part of the regulations lets you know the minimum requirement. Of course, you can (and should) go above the minimum, as appropriate to create a healthy and productive work environment on site.

But like with most health and safety requirements, there are no hard numbers here. I'm not going to tell you that you need X toilets for Y number of workers. Because that's not what the regulations say.

So what do the CDM Regulations say about welfare facilities on construction sites?

1. Sanitary conveniences

The first welfare facility required under CDM is sanitary conveniences. What are sanitary conveniences? Well, think toilets, urinals etc.

These are required on any (and every) construction site.

  1. Suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences must be provided or made available at readily accessible places.
  2. So far as is reasonably practicable, rooms containing sanitary conveniences must be adequately ventilated and lit.
  3. So far as is reasonably practicable, sanitary conveniences and the rooms containing them must be kept in a clean and orderly condition.
  4. Separate rooms containing sanitary conveniences must be provided for men and women, except where and so far as each convenience is in a separate room, the door of which is capable of being secured from the inside.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

Not only do you need to provide toilets, but they should be separate for men and women, kept clean, ventilated and lit.

The regulations don't give you an exact number of facilities to provide but instead, ask for 'suitable and sufficient' sanitary conveniences at 'readily accessible places'. There's no extra information as to what is 'suitable and sufficient' in the CDM guidance document either.

construction toilets

But where you can find some guidance is in the wider-reaching Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 approved code of practice.

Table 1 Number of facilities needed per number of people at work

Number of people at workNumber of toiletsNumber of washbasins
1-511
6-2522
26-5033
51-7544
76-10055

However, note that the CDM regulations make it clear that you need to provide 'suitable and sufficient' sanitary conveniences at 'readily accessible places' for construction work. And the guidance above applies to all workplaces.

It's important to consider several factors, like the size of your site and the working conditions, not just the number of workers, when deciding how many facilities to provide.

You don't always need to provide temporary facilities. Sometimes existing facilities may be present that can be used, such as during refurbishment works or at the later stages of a project (with the client's permission of course).

Toilets and hand washing facilities are basic requirements that will need to be provided, whether with existing facilities or temporary provisions.

2. Washing facilities

2.—(1) Suitable and sufficient washing facilities, including showers if required by the nature of the work or for health reasons, must, so far as is reasonably practicable, be provided or made available at readily accessible places.

Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

The type of washing facilities you need to provide will depend on the work involved in your project.

Hand washing facilities will be required on every site, particularly with sanitary conveniences (see item 1).

(2) Washing facilities must be provided—

  1. in the immediate vicinity of every sanitary convenience, whether or not also provided elsewhere; and
  2. in the vicinity of any changing rooms required by paragraph 4, whether or not provided elsewhere.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

Shower facilities are not necessarily required on every site, but this type of welfare facility should be provided if needed for health reasons. For example, if your work involved contaminated land or work with hazardous substances such as asbestos, you may be required to provide additional washing facilities such as showers.

So have a careful think about the nature of the work you will carry out on the project to determine what washing facilities are needed.

(3) Washing facilities must include—

  1. a supply of clean hot and cold, or warm, water (which must be running water so far as is reasonably practicable);
  2. soap or other suitable means of cleaning; and
  3. towels or other suitable means of drying.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

3. Drinking water

This sometimes comes as a surprise, but drinking water must be provided on your construction site.

  1. An adequate supply of wholesome drinking water must be provided or made available at readily accessible and suitable places.
  2. Where necessary for reasons of health or safety, every supply of drinking water must be conspicuously marked by an appropriate sign.
  3. Where a supply of drinking water is provided, a sufficient number of suitable cups or other drinking vessels must also be provided, unless the supply of drinking water is in a jet from which persons can drink easily.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

Every supply of drinking water should have a sign (so workers know it is safe to drink), and, unless the water comes from a jet, a sufficient number of suitable cups must also be provided.

glass of water

4. Changing rooms and lockers

Changing rooms and lockers will also be required if the nature of the work requires workers to wear special clothing, and they cannot be expected to change elsewhere.

(1) Suitable and sufficient changing rooms must be provided or made available at readily accessible places if a worker—

  1. has to wear special clothing for the purposes of construction work; and
  2. cannot, for reasons of health or propriety, be expected to change elsewhere.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

Changing rooms should include seating and facilities to dry clothing if needed. There should also be separate facilities for men and women where necessary.

You should also provide lockers to any person needing special clothing which is not taken home, or for their own clothes not worn during working hours and personal effects.

5. Facilities for rest

(1) Suitable and sufficient rest rooms or rest areas must be provided or made available at readily accessible places.

Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

A place to rest and take breaks should also be provided for your workforce. After all, where else are they going to drink the water provided?

In all seriousness, it is important to provide a place the workforce can escape the elements. To get out of the cold or wet, or just escape the glare of the sun.

(2) Rest rooms and rest areas must—

  1. be equipped with an adequate number of tables and adequate seating with backs for the number of persons at work likely to use them at any one time;
  2. where necessary, include suitable facilities for any woman at work who is pregnant or who is a nursing mother to rest lying down;
  3. include suitable arrangements to ensure that meals can be prepared and eaten;
  4. include the means for boiling water; and
  5. be maintained at an appropriate temperature.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 Schedule 2

Restrooms and rest areas should have enough tables and chairs for those that will need to use them, along with arrangements so that food can be prepared and eaten, and water can be boiled.

lunch box

The CDM regulations also require that restrooms need to be "maintained at an appropriate temperature", so in the winter, that will usually mean some form of heating is required.

Facilities for rest should be somewhere clean and dry where workers can warm up or cool down, and grab some food and a drink. It's a place to refuel so that workers have the energy to stay productive.

Providing welfare facilities on construction sites

The size of your workforce, the layout of your site and the nature of the work will determine the number and location of welfare facilities.

To comply with the law, you need to make sure that there are enough welfare facilities for the number of workers on your site, and that welfare facilities are available at readily accessible places.

You may find you need extra facilities at certain stages of a project, if the size of the team increases dramatically for a certain task, or if specialist work is being undertaken during part of the project, for example, work with hazardous substances may require a separate decontamination unit.

Your welfare requirements should be assessed before the commencement of work, within the project planning stages.

Include details of the welfare facilities provided within your construction phase plan.

Remember, welfare facilities need to be available from day one of a project, so plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements before sending workers to the site.


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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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