Toilet and Washroom Regulations That Facilities Managers Need To Know
29th September 2017
In a recent study by the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors, research found that 16.5 percent of people are unhappy at work due to the condition of their employer’s toilets. The end result is that inadequate washroom facilities are having a negative impact on levels of staff engagement and happiness.
While it’s understandable that washrooms and toilet facilities may not be at the top of the agenda for a number of business owners and facilities managers, they can have a direct impact on staff happiness, retention and their overall wellbeing.
There are also a number of legal requirements that must be met in accordance with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992, but by providing quality washroom facilities, you can demonstrate to employees that they are a valued part of your organisation.
Though it’s important to understand the full requirements outlined in the regulations, here are some of the key toilet and washroom regulations that facilities managers need to know.
The legal requirements
The legal requirements state that the following toilets and washing facilities must be met:
The discussion around gender-neutral toilets has been a hotly contested topic recently, but regardless of where you fall in the debate, regulations state that separate facilities should be provided for both men and women. However if this isn’t possible, each convenience should be in separate room, and with a lock on the inside in order to ensure security and privacy.
In addition, if both male and female employees do share facilities, the rooms should be designed for only one person at a time, and at least one cubicle should be applicable for a disabled person.
People with disabilities
Several of the regulations require things like showers, washbasins and toilets should be ‘suitable’ for anyone, including people with disabilities.
If a toilet contains four or more cubicles, one of these must be enlarged with a minimum width of 1200mm, including an outward opening door. A horizontal or vertical grab rail should also be supplied, and if you’re choosing a light finish to the interior decoration, the rail should provide a sufficient contrast for anyone with a visual impairment. This should be a minimum difference in LRV (Light Reflective Value) of at least 30 points.
Light and ventilation
Washrooms should have sufficient ventilation to ensure that any offensive odours do not linger. Measures should also be taken to prevent odours entering other rooms throughout the workplace. While it probably stands to reason, air from a room with a toilet should not be allowed to enter a room where food is processed, prepared or eaten – aside from not adhering to the regulations, employees probably won’t thank you for it!
All washrooms should also be well lit for safety and security purposes.
Washroom supplies and consumables
Toilet paper should be provided in either a holder or dispenser, and women’s toilets should have sanitary bins or a suitable means for disposing of sanitary dressings. There are a number of additional requirements from The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, The Water Industries Act 1991 and The Environmental Protection Act 1990 concerning sanitary bin and waste disposal.
Toilets and washing facilities should have both cold and hot running water, complete with soap or a similar cleaning product, and a means for drying hands, either a hot air dryer or paper towels.
What if you’re a tenant?
If facilities are being provided by the owner of the building, toilets and washroom facilities do not have to be within the workplace, but they should if possible be within the building. They should also be available at ALL times when workers might be expected to be in the workplace.
However, the owner is not responsible under the regulations for anything outside of their control (for example if the tenants is responsible for the day-to-day cleaning) any spillages, for example, would be the responsibility of the tenant.
Overall, tenants and any landlord should co-operate sufficiently with each other to ensure that the requirements of the regulations are fully met.
Hygiene & cleaning
Toilet and washroom facilities must be clean and easy to maintain. How often facilities are used will determine the frequency of cleaning responsibilities and rotas (high traffic areas may need additional resources), and the thoroughness of cleaning should be adequate for this purpose.
If the facilities are shared by more than one organisation, the responsibilities for cleaning procedures should be clearly defined.
To ensure the best levels of hygiene possible, internal walls and floors of should typically have a surface that permits wet cleaning, for example ceramic tiling or a waterproof, washable surface.
How many toilets should a workplace have?
The number of toilets and washbasins that a workplace required will differ slightly depending on who uses them.
For example the table below highlights the number of toilets required in a workplace consisting of both men and women.
However if separate toilets are provided for a group of workers (e.g. men, women, office workers or manual workers), the regulations stipulate a slightly different set of calculations. If for example it’s necessary to provide urinals to be used by men only, then the requirements can be seen below.
It’s important to remember that this is just a highlight of some of the key considerations, but the regulatory code has a special legal status and you could be prosecuted for breach of health and safety law if you do not follow the relevant provisions.
For more information please visit the HSE guide.