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September 18, 2015

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Revised CDM regulations put site welfare in the spotlight

By Neil Richardson, director, Garic Ltd 

In April this year revised CDM (Construction (Design and Management)) regulations came into force which placed much greater emphasis on the provision of welfare facilities on construction sites.

Now, all sites, regardless of size, must make sure there are not only enough facilities for the number of workers on site but that they are appropriate for the type of work taking place. Both the client and contractor share this legal responsibility.

Pre-construction information prepared by the client needs to include details of the welfare arrangements and the client must also ensure construction work does not start unless they are satisfied that the correct welfare facilities are in place.

If the construction project is on or next to the clients’ premises then those facilities can be used, as long as permission has been granted. However, if this is not the case the contractor will need to set up portable amenities.

Careful consideration should be given to positioning, particularly if mobile teams are working across a number of locations for example repairing highways or laying cables. Welfare facilities will need to be provided at a central location that is accessible within a reasonable distance.

For projects involving more than one contractor, the responsibility lies jointly with the client and principal contractor. The principal contractor is required to liaise with the other contractors involved to ensure the appropriate facilities are made available and properly maintained.

While early planning is always desirable, continued dialogue throughout the construction phase will be necessary to make sure any changes which may affect the facilities required are taken into account. In accordance with the regulations it is important that a record is kept of all welfare facilities provided.

So exactly what is required? From the first day on site workers must have easily access to clean drinking water, washing facilities, hot water and toilets. There also needs to be suitable facilities for taking breaks, having meals and for storing and changing clothes. These all need to be properly maintained to ensure they are kept in a clean and hygienic condition.

The regulations say that toilets are to have effective ventilation and there needs to be separate male and female facilities but if this is not possible, lockable toilets must be provided.

Washing facilities should be equipped with hot and cold running water, soap or other cleaning agents, towels or another method of drying hands, showers depending on the nature of the work and again ideally these should be separate male and female facilities.

If workers are required to change into protective clothing, then separate male and female changing rooms with seating and storage is required. Drying facilities for wet clothes should also be provided as should heated rest areas with seats, tables and a method for warming drinks and food.

The majority of welfare equipment suppliers stock products that aim to help meet these requirements. Whilst there are many effective standalone toilets, showers and canteen cabins on the market, cleverly designed multi-functional facilities that offer more are becoming increasingly popular. These new state-of-the-art facilities take welfare to a whole new level providing more accessible, comprehensive and higher quality amenities for workers which can only be a good thing.

CDM welfare facility requirements summary


Toilets should be suitable and sufficient, ventilated, lit and kept in a clean and orderly condition.

Washing facilities must be provided so that workers can use them immediately after using the toilet or urinal, even if they are provided elsewhere.

Washing facilities

General washing facilities must be suitable and sufficient, kept clean and orderly and with basins or sinks large enough for people to wash their face, hands and forearms.

The facilities should include: clean hot and cold, or warm running water; soap or other suitable means of cleaning; towels or other suitable means of drying; and showers where the nature of work is particularly dirty or there is a need to decontaminate.

Drinking water

Drinking water must be provided or made available at readily accessible and suitable places. Cups are required unless the supply is in a jet from which people can drink easily.

Changing rooms and lockers

Changing rooms are needed where workers have to wear special clothing for the purposes of their work and cannot be expected to change elsewhere.

The rooms must be provided with seating, means of drying and keeping clothing and personal effects secure.

Facilities for rest

Rest rooms or rest areas are required equipped with tables and seating (with backs) sufficient for the number of persons likely to use them at any one time.

There should be arrangements for preparing and eating meals, also for boiling water. In cold weather, heating should be provided.

NeilRichardson1Neil Richardson is director at Garic Ltd 

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Alastair Brown
Alastair Brown
8 years ago

The requirement for welfare on Construction sites have not really significantly changed, and while I was with HSE it was something that was regularly highlighted. I carried out a project with the Mobile welfare unit industry to drive improvements via the supply chain. The earliest record we could find within the office of hot or warm water on site was from a set of regulations dating back to ’66, so significantly before the HSWA’74, and since then we’ve put a man on the moon……. There is no excuse for inadequate welfare on site, and it’s NOT a new requirement (though… Read more »

John Lawrence
John Lawrence
8 years ago

Dear Sirs, Well done to SHP for reminding all duty holders of this requirement. We now live in the 21st Century where the minimum welfare facilities stated in the CDM Regulations should be a given. I would appreciate your comments on the size of basin provided for washing hands forearms and face on site, having consideration of the point below. Although the size of washbasin is not determined in Schedule 2 of the CDM Regulations, it is determined within the ACoP for the Workplace(Health, Safety and Welfare) Regultions) 1992, paragraph 193, (under Regultions 21), that “washbasins should … be large… Read more »

8 years ago

Are there any hard and fast rules over at what point (amount of operatives) should a welfare cabin be used i.e less than 3 a single portable toilet is okay any more and a welfare cabin must be used.