27th March, 2024

Do Your Construction Welfare Facilities Pass The Suitability Test?

Construction workers need welfare facilities. These are things like toilets, sinks, washing facilities, places to get changed and places to eat. And to comply with the law, your welfare facilities need to be suitable.

Do Your Construction Welfare Facilities Pass The Suitability Test? header image

Welfare facilities are a legal requirement in any workplace, including on construction sites. They are needed in any workplace under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. And welfare facilities are also included as a requirement in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM), specifically for construction work.

In simple terms, both sets of regulations say the same thing. Welfare facilities must be available for workers. And they must be suitable.

Use the welfare facilities checklist form to check the condition of your welfare facilities.

How do you know if your construction welfare facilities pass the suitability test?

There are three main factors to consider:

Your construction site welfare facilities will be suitable if:

How many toilets do you need? How many rest areas? What washing facilities? What welfare facilities should be provided on construction sites and how do we make sure they pass the suitability test?

The right type of welfare facilities

How do you know what the right type of welfare facilities for your sites are? Well, for the most part, you should expect to use common sense.

Welfare facilities needed in construction include:

Workers in construction should have access to welfare facilities just as workers in other sectors do, such as retail or office-based staff. Construction workers have the same requirements for going to the toilet or taking a break as any other person going about their daily working life.

washing hands in sink

In fact, due to the nature of construction work, with plenty of dirt, dust and muck to deal with, the need for good hygiene and cleanliness during breaks is even more important.

Above common sense, the law also places requirements on the provision of welfare facilities on construction sites.

  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.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 SCHEDULE 2

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations not only require suitable and sufficient toilet facilities but also cover washing, drinking water, changing and rest facilities.

Need help with CDM? Use our free CDM guides for your construction project.

If you don't provide the right welfare facilities, your construction work (and your workers) will suffer.

It's hard to stay productive when you're crossing your legs. It's hard to work clean if you're not clean yourself. And if you get a visit from the HSE, welfare facilities will be one of the things they check.

Failing to provide adequate welfare facilities would usually be handled with an improvement notice. These are listed on the HSE's public register of enforcement notices. Several improvement notices are issued each month against construction companies that have failed to provide suitable welfare facilities.

In serious or repeat cases, prosecutions can happen.

In one case, a construction company was fined £5k for failing to consider the welfare needs of workers. In what the HSE inspector described as ‘Dickensian-like’ conditions, workers were unable to access basic welfare facilities such as toilets or running water.

Due to the lack of toilets and running water on-site, workers had to use wet wipes and paper towels to clean themselves, and leave the site to find toilets elsewhere in the city.

The right number of welfare facilities

Providing one toilet on a construction site is rarely going to be enough - unless it's a very small site.

The minimum legal requirement for welfare facilities on construction sites is 'suitable and sufficient'. But 'suitable and sufficient' isn't a number. So how many welfare facilities do you need in construction to be 'suitable and sufficient'?

portable toilets in a line

There are no specific numbers or standard requirements because all construction sites differ in their scope, size, and the number of people on site.

What is suitable and sufficient for 10 workers, wouldn't be for 50 workers, or 100.

And it's not just about the number of workers you have, but also where they are. If your workers are spread out across a large project, and welfare facilities are only available at the far end of the site, those welfare facilities might not be 'readily accessible' for some of your workers.

  1. Suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences must be provided or made available at readily accessible places.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 SCHEDULE 2

The layout of the site, the distance and spread of workers, as well as the number of workers all need to be taken into account when assessing your welfare facility needs on-site.

The right condition of welfare facilities

Providing the welfare facilities is part of the suitability test, providing sufficient numbers of them is another. But they also need to be in good condition.

Broken or unusable facilities don't count!

out of order sign on welfare facilities

If toilets don't flush, or sinks don't have running water, then they are not in the right condition to be suitable.

  1. (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.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 SCHEDULE 2

Construction projects can take months, or even years to finish. Welfare facilities are needed from the first day until the final day. During that time they might see a fair bit of use, so even if your welfare facilities start suitable, they might not remain suitable due to:

Let's imagine you need 3 toilets for your project. But by month 6, the lights had broken in one, and the flush had stopped working in another. You're down to one toilet. Now you only have one working toilet, and that's not enough for your project.

It's important to monitor the condition of your welfare facilities and keep them in good working order throughout the project.


Failing to provide adequate welfare facilities for the number of people on-site, unhygienic welfare facilities or faulty welfare facilities (e.g. no running water or hot and cold washing water) could all be highlighted as breaches of the need to provide suitable and sufficient welfare facilities.

Welfare facilities should always be considered at the planning stage before any work starts. Make sure your welfare provision passes the suitability test, and check you are providing suitable and sufficient welfare facilities for your workforce.

Construction site welfare facilities must be:

Assess your project. How many people will be on-site? Where will they be working? How are they going to access welfare facilities? How will welfare facilities be kept clean? How will welfare facilities be maintained?

Keep a check with the welfare facilities checklist form and find out if your construction project ticks all the right boxes.

share on twitter share on facebook share on linked in share by email

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.

Need health and safety documents?

Search hundreds of health and safety documents ready to edit and download for your construction projects.

Find Documents

Recent posts like this...

20 Tips For Better Construction Site Security image

20 Tips For Better Construction Site Security

Site security is an important issue in construction. Your site could be at risk from thieves and vandals, but it could also appear to be an exciting place for children or a shortcut for someone's way home. Here are 20 tips for better construction site security.

Read Post
Construction Noise And Working Hours Near Residential Areas image

Construction Noise And Working Hours Near Residential Areas

The law does not limit noise to certain hours, but between 11 pm to 7 am councils can enforce restricted permitted noise levels. Construction work ideally shouldn't be carried out during these hours, especially close to residential areas, but there can be exceptions.

Read Post
22 Essential Items For Your Construction Site Office image

22 Essential Items For Your Construction Site Office

Setting up your construction site office and getting the correct paperwork in place is important, it's where people go when they arrive on site, and where you run your project from. Your site office needs to contain plenty of information for your team - here are 22 essential items.

Read Post

Spend less time on paperwork.
Start with the free plan today.