Getting Site Ready and the Welfare of your staff – talking everything Welfare Units

A welfare unit is a compact and capable way of providing the necessary facilities for staff working in a restricted area or at a remote location. They are often used by construction site workers or road maintenance crews to provide somewhere to eat, relax and go to the toilet where those facilities don’t or can’t exist. Plus, for any projects lasting more than 30 days welfare facilities must be provided by law.

Welfare units can be static or mobile, are self-contained, and are designed to suit the welfare needs of employees. Often they will look like a small metal shipping container in appearance. Depending on the individual requirements they may include a toilet, canteen, drying room or all of these together. They are often supplied with a generator, or can be connected to an electricity supply if available, to provide electricity to typically run a heater, kettle, hot running water, toaster and microwave.

Welfare units are often hired for the same length of time as the work or project the employees will be on site for. As this can often be for a number of weeks, welfare units are normally hired from a specialist waste company so they can attend site on a regular basis to clean the toilet, remove the toilet waste and provide a top-up of toilet rolls and consumables.

Having a welfare unit with a canteen facility will give workers a place to sit comfortably, eat, and relax. It can be used in the morning to make tea and coffee, as a place to debrief staff, hold meetings and sit down for lunch.

If there is a drying room, these can be handy to dry out wet overalls and clothing during the day or overnight.

Welfare units must also provide dispensers for soaps and sanitisers as required for the type of job being carried out and to clean hands before eating or after using the toilet.

Waste companies often supply different types of welfare unit depending on the size and nature of facilities, but also depending upon the type of unit – they may be towable or delivered on the back of a delivery truck and lowered to the ground. There is also a type of unit known as a ‘groundhog’, which is on wheels and delivered by towbar, but can be lowered to ground level to avoid the need for steps on uneven ground.

Each welfare unit should be checked after each hire period by the waste company to ensure they meet all health and safety legislation and can be issued with an electrical certificate confirming compliance with current regulations. They are also designed to be vandal proof, knowing they may be left overnight in quiet locations.

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