Builders that think they are complying with health and safety laws but haven’t considered the importance of providing adequate sanitation facilities for its workers are fooling themselves. There are certain requirements that employers and business owners must provide employees and workers on the site with before construction activities can begin on a site.
The most important facilities and amenities that employers must provide are
- Toilet facilities
- Washing facilities
- Drinking water
- First Aid
- Meal Area
A recent article that I came across of British safety website PPConstructionSafety.com highlighted the case of a construction firm in Essex that failed to provide adequate sanitation facilities for its workers, resulting in a hefty fine.
According to the post an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) paid a visit to the company’s site in Southend, Essex in March 2014 and found sub-standard facilities for workers on the site to utilise. An improvement notice was issued to the company.
The company did not comply with the improvement notice and was thereafter prosecuted in court. The company did not improve the welfare facilities for workers even up to two months after the date of the compliance of the Improvement Notice. Inspectors said the facilities were not up to an acceptable level, even after being issued with the improvement notice, resulting in authorities taking the decision to prosecute.
Dantel Construction Limited, the company involved was fined £ 2,000 (Aus$ 3,804.13) and ordered to pay £1,940 (Aus $3,690) in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work act.
Adam Hills, health and safety inspector was quoted in the article:
“Construction workers have the right to sanitary and welfare facilities including having an adequate supply of hot and cold running water. There is really no excuse to subject workers to pre-Victorian conditions. Sadly, however, these basic requirements are too often neglected.
“A cold water tap and toilet on their own are not adequate. Decent facilities will positively benefit health and well-being and help prevent ailments and infection.”
Although this incident related specifically to the provision of hot water, there are some employers who fail to provide even the most basic facilities.
It is important that workers are aware of their rights as well as their responsibilities when it comes to occupational health and safety. Too often naïve, inexperienced workers and foreign workers are taken advantage of because they aren’t aware of what the law says about their health and safety.
One way that the federal government wants to make sure that all construction workers are aware of general construction health and safety is by undergoing induction training. This training has been made mandatory under federal health and safety law for anyone involved in construction work, whether a new, experienced, apprentice worker or foreign labourer.
The training known as The White Card is a short course which can be completed online in a matter of hours and familiarises workers with construction OHS, their duty of care, their rights under the law, common hazards faced on construction sites, common controls and general information on how to stay safe on a construction site.