Guide

Workplace welfare facilities and healthy working environment

Welfare facilities at work

For your employees' well-being you need to provide:

  • toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer
  • drinking water
  • a place to store clothing (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work)

Consider the needs of employees with disabilities. They must be able to easily access these facilities. See disabled access and facilities in business premises.

Workplace toilet and washing facilities

You have to provide adequate toilet and washing facilities for your employees. You must provide: 

  • enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them - people should not have to queue for long periods to go to the toilet
  • where possible, separate facilities for men and women, failing that, rooms with lockable doors 
  • clean facilities 
  • a supply of toilet paper and, for female employees, a means of disposing of sanitary dressings
  • facilities that are well lit and ventilated
  • facilities with hot and cold running water
  • enough soap
  • a basin large enough to wash hands and forearms if required
  • a means for drying hands, eg paper towels or a hot air dryer
  • showers if needed, eg for particularly dirty work

If possible, you need to provide flushing toilets and running water. You can hire portable cabins converted into toilet facilities. If this is not practical, consider alternatives such as chemical toilets and water containers. Relying on public toilets should be a last resort. 

How many toilets per person in the workplace?

The following tables show how many toilets and wash basins you should provide per number of employees.

For mixed use or female only:

Number of employees Number of toilets Number of washbasins
1-5 1 1
6-25 2 2
26-50 3 3
51-75 4 4
76-100 5 5

 

Toilets used by men only:

Number of men at work Number of toilets Number of urinals
1-5 1 1
6-30 2 1
31-45 2 2
46-60 3 2
61-75 3 3

(Source: HSE's Workplace health, safety and welfare - Approved Code of Practice and guidance)

Ensure you consider the needs of employees with disabilities when planning toilet facilities.

Meal break and rest facilities

There should be a seating area for workers to use during breaks. It needs to be clean, hygienic and located where food will not get contaminated. There should be washing facilities nearby. There should be a way for staff to heat food or water for hot drinks. You must provide drinking water.  

If ‘reasonably practical’ you must provide rest facilities for pregnant or nursing mothers. 

You don’t need to provide a smoking room. Smoking indoors is banned in almost all enclosed workplaces. See workplace policies on smoking drugs and alcohol

Changing and clothing storage facilities 

If the work activity requires your employees to wear specialist clothing (overalls, a uniform, thermal clothing etc), then you must provide changing rooms. If you provide a changing room, it should: 

  • be readily accessible
  • contain, or lead directly to, clothing storage and washing facilities
  • provide seating
  • provide a way to hang clothes – eg a hook or peg 
  • ensure the privacy of the user

You should provide separate changing facilities for men and women.

Try to prevent employees’ own clothing getting dirty or wet. Provide separate storage for clean and contaminated clothing which:

  • allows wet clothing to be hung up to dry out during the course of the day
  • is well ventilated