The safety and welfare of your onsite staff is more than just a legal obligation, it’s something every responsible employer needs to think about.
Why site welfare is important and how to maintain it amongst your staff
Every business, especially in today’s progressive times, has a corporate responsibility to maintain levels of safety and wellbeing amongst its employees. But construction companies in particular, or any organisation where staff are working on an active site, face some very unique considerations when it comes to ensuring their staff are taken care of.
Otherwise known as ‘site welfare’, industry standards for making sure the needs of staff working onsite are very clear — outlining key essentials across a broad range of welfare requirements that employers are under obligation to uphold. Not only is it a matter of legal obligation, it is also crucial for maintaining staff engagement and improving work productivity.
In fact, it’s long been agreed that prioritising employee welfare, regardless of what sector or industry, is conductive to improving your business’ bottom line. Consider for a moment the many ways a worksite can be thought of as a ‘difficult’ environment and it’s easy to see exactly where such improvements can be made right across the board.
Toilet and washing facilities
A cold water tap and chemical toilet on their own are not adequate. Proper onsite facilities, such as a conventional toilet, running hot water and (depending on whether your staff could benefit) showers can positively benefit health and wellbeing, and can help prevent communicable diseases and other irritations like Dermatitis.
That’s why it’s important to ensure onsite buildings are fully equipped with the necessary toilet and wash facilities to meet the exact needs relevant to your work environment. This also means making sure that facilities are made readily available and are accessible to staff when and wherever they are required.
The number of toilets depends on the number of onsite personnel and a ration of 1 toilet to 7 persons is the general recommendation. Men and women may use the same toilet, if it is in a lockable room. and washing facilities in the vicinity are required.
Changing rooms and lockers
Every site should have arrangements for securely storing personal clothing not worn on site and for protective clothing needed for site work. Where there is a risk of site clothing contaminating everyday clothing, it is important to be able to store items separately.
So if workers are exposed to especially hazardous substances (development of contaminated land, or demolition of old industrial buildings which are contaminated with toxic substances, for example) then you will need to provide designated areas for storing clothing worn on site and designated areas for storing everyday clothing.
When it comes to actually ‘changing’ clothes, it’s always best to have a designated area in close vicinity to the storage and wash facilities. Separate changing rooms will be required for men and women.
Rest facilities (non sleeping)
When it comes to the everyday needs of your staff, it’s important to provide rest facilities where they can take breaks, and where meals can be prepared and eaten. In other words, a break room, the kind commonly used by staff while on their lunch.
It’s pretty obvious when you think about it, but many workers often skip their lunch, which can have disastrous effects on their health and wellbeing over the long term. Giving them a dedicated space encourages them to take the time out they need to recharge and return to work physically and mentally prepared for the remainder of the day.
This not only ensures a healthier, more capable workforce, it also means a happier one. Break rooms also make for excellent communal areas, where staff can engage with one another in a more relaxed environment; promoting stronger bonds within your team as a whole.
Rest facilities (for sleeping)
On the other end of the spectrum, you may be required to provide sleeping accommodation, if round-the-clock operations are keeping staff and key personnel onsite and away from home outside of working hours.
While it isn’t always necessary, as some firms may choose to put such staff up in a hotel or B&B, accommodation that is properly equipped for sleeping and comfortable is certainly required when insisting staff remain onsite throughout the duration of a project.