Ensuring Gender Equality on Construction Sites

Despite active efforts to attract and recruit wider talent pools, construction continues to be a fairly male-dominated field. Data from the Office for National Statistics in 2016 showed that out of 2.3 million jobs in the construction industry, only 296,000 of these were women, demonstrating a clear 87/13 split.

With demand for high performing employees at an all-time high, campaigns such as Randstad’s ‘Women in Construction’ aim to identify the issues that the industry has and is facing and the progress that is being made.

Regardless, with the ONS statistics in mind, it may come as no surprise that construction sites are often failing to provide gender specific facilities for workforces. This has led to female construction workers often complaining about a lack of female toilets, or unisex toilets being in a condition that they believe is unfit to use.

One female construction worker reported that the women’s toilets placed on the construction site she was working on were locked and, when obtaining the key from a male colleague, discovered that it was being used for storage. This story prompted Unite the Union to demand that workers take action to make sure that all workers have dignity in the workplace.

This research undertaken by Unite found that women, in particular, are often denied toilet dignity, often having to use male toilets or having to wait. With this in mind, how do you ensure that you have the correct toilets on your own construction site to ensure the wellbeing of all staff?

Do You Need Separate Construction Site Toilets For Male and Female Employees?

A survey of 3,500 Unite members found that as many as one in five construction sites did not have separate facilities. Additionally, 10 per cent of sites were without an adequate supply of toilet paper and showers. Of those that did have showers, a large proportion failed to provide separate areas for women.

However, as per the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, employers must provide separate rooms containing toilets for men and women. Suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences should also be provided and accessible. Rooms are not suitable unless:

  • They are adequately lit
  • They are kept in a clean and orderly condition
  • Separate rooms are provided for men and women. Each sanitary convenience needs to be in a separate room and the door needs to be capable of being secured from the inside

How Many Toilets Are Needed At A Construction Site?

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that it is an employer’s duty to provide toilet and washing facilities of a good standard. The number of facilities, namely toilets and washbasins, will depend on the number of people within your workforce:

Required number of facilities for mixed use (or for women only):

Number of people in the workplace Number of toilets required Number of washbasins required
1-5 1 1
6-25 2 2
26-50 3 3
51-75 4 4
76-100 5 5

 

Required number of facilities for men only:

Number of men at work Number of toilets required Number of urinals required
1-15 1 1
16-30 2 1
31-45 2 2
46-60 3 2
61-75 3 3
76-90 4 3
91-100 4 4

 

Toilets should be available to both male and female workers throughout the day, regardless of the amount of people working on site. Units should be adequately cleaned and maintained, meaning that they should be emptied at least once per week.

Employers must also ensure that the toilets provided:

  • Have lockable toilet doors
  • Are clean
  • Are ventilated and well lit
  • Have hot and cold running water
  • Have soap and toilet paper
  • Have hand drying facilities

What About Toilets On Temporary Sites?

It is not uncommon within the building industry for sites to be temporary. In such instances, the law does not change and employers must still provide running water and flushing toilets. If there is no water access on site, chemical toilets can stand as adequate replacements as long as washing facilities are provided.

At Mobile Mini, we provide portable toilets and shower units that can be placed on construction sites to suit the needs of your workforce. We can provide single sex, male/female blocks and combination units that can be connected to mains waste drainage or supplied with a separate waste holding tank as an optional extra.