Sanitary Conveniences, Washing Facilities and Drinking Water

Created on: 25 Jul 2023

Toilet facilities and washing facilities which are clean and well maintained are an essential feature of a civilised workplace.

Safety Reps should use the legal standards as a minimum when seeking improvements in such facilities. Regulation 20 of the Workplace Regs states that readily accessible, suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences must be provided, adequately ventilated and lit, kept clean and maintained in an orderly condition.

Separate conveniences for men and women must be provided except where the convenience is in a separate room, the door of which can be secured from the inside.

The ACoP defines the following minimum provisions:

  • for 1 to 5 employees, one water closet;
  • for 6 to 25 employees, two water closets; and
  • an extra water closet for every extra 25 employees.

Where the sanitary accommodation is used only by men a less good minimum standard may be applied:

  • for one to 15, one water closet and one urinal;
  • for 16 to 30, two water closets and one urinal; 65
  • for 31 to 45, two water closets and two urinals;
  • for 46 to 60, three water closets and two urinals;
  • for 61 to 75, three water closets and three urinals;
  • for 75 to 90, four water closets and three urinals; and
  • for 91 to 100, four water closets and four urinals.

The ACoP recommends that suitable sanitary accommodation should be connected to a suitable drainage system; have means for flushing water; contain toilet paper in a holder or dispenser; have a facility for hanging coats; and where used by women, contain means for disposal of sanitary dressings.

Access for disabled people should be taken into account. Where facilities are being used by members of the public, for example visitors, the number of conveniences should be increased to ensure that workers can use the facilities without delay.

Washing facilities will be considered "suitable" if they are in the immediate vicinity of sanitary conveniences; in the vicinity of changing rooms; provided with a clean supply of hot and cold (or warm) water (where practicable the water supply should be running), soap or other means of cleaning, towels or other means of drying; sufficiently ventilated and lit and kept clean and orderly.

Separate facilities must be provided for male and female workers, except where the facilities are provided in a room, intended for use by one person at a time and which can be secured from the inside.

This last provision does not apply to washing facilities intended for washing the hands, forearms and face only.

The ACoP recommends the following minimum washing provisions:

  • for 1 to 5 employees, one washing unit;
  • for every additional 25 employees, an additional washing unit; and
  • for 76 to 100 employees five washing units.

Sanitary accommodation and washing facilities should ensure the privacy of the user. Regulation 22 states that an adequate supply of drinking water must be provided. Such drinking water must be wholesome, situated at suitable and readily accessible places and conspicuously marked, where necessary for reasons of health and safety.

Suitable and sufficient cups or other drinking vessels must also be provided, unless the water is supplied by an easily drinkable jet.