25th January, 2022
Every construction site needs welfare facilities, and most will also require a site office. But where should you put them? Where should your site compound be? On some sites, it might be obvious. You might even use existing facilities. But on others, you'll need to give it a little more thought.
When you start a new construction project, your site office and welfare facilities are the first things you need to establish. Where will people sign in? Where will people go to the toilet? Where will the site manager run the project from?
So, where should you locate these facilities?
On some sites, it might be pretty obvious. Maybe you will use existing facilities. Or there's a perfect spot next to the entrance. But on other sites, you might need to give this a little more thought.
Picking the wrong spot might not seem like a big deal. But people failing to sign in, delays in communication, and bottles of wee scattered around the site are all signs you made the wrong decision!
Don't leave it until the first day of the project to decide. If you put some thought into the best location for your main site compound during the planning stages, you can find the perfect place.
Where are your services, and how will you connect to them?
For welfare facilities, at least, you will likely need a water supply, especially on longer projects.
The law says you should have running hot and cold water for your welfare facilities, cold water for your WC and running warm water for your washing facilities.
Washing facilities [...]
- Washing facilities must include—
- a supply of clean hot and cold, or warm, water (which must be running water so far as is reasonably practicable);
In terms of washing facilities, you should at least have handwashing facilities. Depending on your site requirements, you may also need shower facilities. For example, if the nature of your work involves contamination with hazardous materials.
Short-term projects may alternatively have a self-contained portable chemical toilet. But this is only acceptable where connection to mains water is not practical.
- Flushing toilets connected to the mains water and drainage system where possible.
- If main connection is not available, then facilities with a built in water supply and drainage tank
- Portable chemical toilets can be used as a last resort.
And your water supply isn't the only service to consider.
You will also need a temporary electricity supply for your cabins. First and foremost, for heating and lighting. But you will also need electricity for site office equipment. Even if you're not running a computer or printer on the site, most modern-day remote communication happens through mobile phones and tablets. Keeping these devices powered up prevents delays with important messages.
The location of your site compound should consider the best place to safely run temporary electricity and water supplies without these getting in the way of any planned work for the project.
Speaking of your project, you ideally want to situate your site compound somewhere practical for the works. Ideally, your site compound should be somewhere it can remain throughout the majority of the project without needing to be moved.
While moving your site facilities during the project is sometimes unavoidable, it is not without cost, on both time and money.
Avoid citing your cabins in the middle (or too close) to the building you are about to construct. It might sound crazy, but it does happen!
Balance keeping your site compound in one place with keeping a good flow to your site. There might be a spot right at the back of your site where the site office can stay throughout the project. It will be out of the way there.
But you don't want your site office out of the way. If it's inconvenient to get to, people won't. They won't sign in, visitors won't find it, and the site manager will be out of the loop.
And you certainly don't want welfare facilities out of the way. Your site will get into a right mess (literally!).
The better your site layout, the better your project will run.
Develop your traffic management plan and site layout, before deciding where to place your site compound.
Where will most of your workforce be located on the site?
Locate your WC facilities as close as practical to the workforce.
Locate your site office where it will be easy to access, for your team arriving on the site, for visitors and deliveries. It's your control room.
The CDM Regulations state that welfare facilities should be made available at 'readily accessible places'.
- Suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences must be provided or made available at readily accessible places.
Welfare facilities are essential on construction sites. Construction work is dirty work. Poor hygiene can result in ill health for workers and problems on site. Expect fines from the HSE if you don't provide suitable toilet and washing facilities.
If you have a large site with workers spread out over a large area, then it makes sense that you should have more than one set of welfare facilities. You may want to spread the facilities out to be easy to access from all parts of the site.
Making sure welfare facilities are available close to where people are working means you will be complying with legal requirements. It also helps ensure that your workers will use the facilities provided rather than relieving themselves in areas of the site they are not supposed to!
Where is your site entrance?
Is it sensible to have your site office at the rear of the site when your entrance is at the front?
Visitors will have to wander through your site to get to the site office, and during this time, they will not be assisted or inducted and may not be following the site safety rules. It will also make it harder to spot unauthorised people. Are they a visitor, or are they a trespasser?
The site office should be the first place workers report. Make it easy for them to come and sign in and receive any safety or variation updates before starting their shift.
Locating your site office and at least some of your welfare facilities at (or close) to the site entrance is seen as good practice because visitors and workers need to report there first before starting work or entering other areas of the site.
If it's not possible to locate your compound close to the site entrance, make sure you have signs and barriers to direct people. You may also want to provide a number to contact for visitors and deliveries so you can escort them to the site office on arrival.
Download the construction site set up checklist to identify any additional site set-up requirements and help ensure your site meets health and safety requirements from day one of your projects.
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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