Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Backing up your PPE with welfare facilities
Posted by David Cant on April 8, 2014

construction health and safetyMaintaining construction site Health and safety can be complicated with so many factors to consider. Most businesses understand the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE), but this does not stop some failing to issue their employees with it.

But PPE is just one factor employers need to consider. Equally important is the provision of welfare facilities  – a requirement under the General duties (Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007). The same regulations demand that welfare provisions are included as part of the very earliest stages of project planning and are in place before work begins on site.

The specifics of the welfare provisions required are dependent on the site in question, but they must generally include “adequate”:

  • Toilets.
  • Fresh water/washing facilities.
  • A place for employees to warm up and eat their food.
  • Some basic provision for storing work clothing.

Your CDM representative should be able to define the specific needs of any project to ensure that the correct welfare provisions are in place ready for the arrival of your employees and contractors.

What happens when there are insufficient welfare provisions?

Some employers mistakenly believe that welfare provisions are purely a way to offer staff some basic creature comforts on site. However welfare units also double as an additional layer of personal protection for employees.

Take the case of builder Geoffrey Cinco who was fined for injuries sustained by two contractors working on one of his projects. Both men were left with chemical burns after working in wet concrete for more than four hours. The burns were so bad that one of the men needed skin grafts on his ankles to repair the damaged tissue.

Cinco made two mistakes on the project, leading to his £20,000 fine. First, neither of the contractors was issued with proper instructions or any personal protective equipment before being asked to work in the wet concrete. Secondly, Cinco failed to provide any on site welfare facilities where the men could wash off the cement, making the burns sustained even worse.

Had Mr Cinco provided access to clean water, both of the unnamed contractors may have been able to reduce the severity of their injuries.

Welfare on your site

by failing to protect the contractors, Cinco was accused by HSE inspectors of showing “a blatant disregard for their safety and welfare”. But the experience of these two men demonstrates the importance of welfare provisions in helping to mitigate the fall-out from genuine accidents.

Even when wearing PPE, employees are still at risk from accidental exposure to cement. By providing access to adequate welfare facilities, affected employees could quickly and easily clean themselves up, minimising the effects of the substance. Obviously any injuries still need to be recorded as standard practice, but the long-term effects of concrete exposure can be minimised or negated completely.

Injuries caused by contact with cement are just one of the many issues your employees may encounter on site that could be better managed with good welfare facilities. The case of Mr Cinco also shows just how costly inadequate welfare provisions can be.

How does your business go about assessing welfare provisions? Do you factor in welfare provisions during the early stages of project planning?


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

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