Hughes and Ferrett, 2008 have defined that health is the protection of people from illness due to the materials, processes of procedures used in the workplace while safety defined as the protection of people from physical injury or in the absence of the danger in simple way. Health and safety often closely related with the physical and material and mental well-being of the individual at the place of work (Hughes and Ferrett, 2008).
By referring to Oxford Dictionary, welfare is defined as the health, happiness and fortunes of a person or group. For the purpose of this research, the provision of welfare facilities consist of washing and sanitation arrangements, provision of drinking water, heating, lighting, accommodation for clothing, seating, eating and rest rooms as well as first aid arrangement for the well-being of the employees (Hughes and Ferrett, 2006).
CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY RESPONSIBILITIES
Construction health and safety should be of primary concern to employers, employees, government and project participants (Kheni, 2008). Therefore, the client, main contractor, regulatory agencies and employees are the main parties who responsible for construction health and safety (Laryea S. and Mensah S., 2010).
There is several government agencies involved in construction safety and health. Each has the same mission towards the safety and health in construction industry as to reduce the accidents or fatalities and the compensation cost as well as to ensure that the risks to health and safety of workers are properly controlled.
The contractor’s role has been mainly focused by the research and publications on construction worker safety due to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places the responsibility for safety on the employer’s shoulders (J. Gambatese, J. Hinze, 1998). The table below explained on the main duties of construction parties.
Table 2.1: Roles of parties in ensuring health and safety in construction
Appoint the right people
Provide safe access on site
Wearing of PPE
Allow adequate time
Provide welfare facilities
Take care of equipment
Provide information to building
Working at height safety precaution
Health and safety
Report any defects
Ensure that team communicates and co-operates
Ensure suitable management
arrangements are in place
Health and safety law
Ensure adequate welfare facilities are on site
Roof work safety precautions
Ensure workplaces are designed correctly
Appoint a principal contractor
Safe manual handling
Ensure a health and safety plan is in place
Safe loading and unloading of goods
Keep the health and safety file
Safe traffic, vehicles and plant
Protecting the public
Safe tools and machinery
Safe hoists and cranes
Safe emergency procedures
Safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous substances
Managing of noise levels
Hand-arm vibration safety procedures
Safety in use of electricity and other services
Protecting the public
Source: Laryea S. and Mensah S., 2010
PLANNING OF WELFARE FACILITIES
Good health and safety planning helps to ensure that a project is well managed and that unexpected costs and problems are minimised (Laryea S. and Mensah S., 2010).
Consideration should be made during planning stage prior to constructing any facilities. Issues here include consideration of a safe and healthy location, application of appropriate construction standards, provision of adequate and sanitary living conditions as well as appropriate leisure and health facilities (IFC and the EBR, 2009).
Firstly, it is important to make sure welfare arrangements are clearly addressed in the health and safety plan where the Laws and Legislations apply (HSE, 1998).
Make sure the facilities reflect the site size, nature of the work, and numbers of people who will use them. An example of nature of work, where consider the provision of showers if the project involves hazardous substances or very dirty work such as sewer maintenance, dusty demolition activities as well as works with contaminated land or concrete pouring (HSE, 1998).
The distance of workers will have to travel to the welfare facilities might have to consider as well. The exact nature of the facilities also depends on the intended duration of work and number of different locations. Lastly, consideration on whether the welfare facilities need to be relocated during the construction phase.
MINIMUM STANDARD OF WELFARE FACILITIES
Minimum standard of welfare facilities should be provided at construction site complying with the regulation for the particular project. The satisfaction of the safety and health act and regulation can be achieved by providing the optimum facilities through the assessing the maximum and minimum of construction workers (Tan, 2010).
The person in charge of the construction site must always make sure that the legal requirements of workers welfare are met (HSE, 2004).
However, simply providing and enforcing prescriptive rules and procedures are not sufficient to foster safe behavior in the workplace (Reason, 1998). Most construction employers now have safety policies in place, but they need to be kept up to date. The objective is to reflect what actually happens, and to make sure the policy does not contain a hopeful list of wishes that are never likely to be fulfilled (Hotl, A.S.J, 2001)
The provision of welfare facilities at transient construction sites and the provision of welfare facilities at fixed construction sites that supplied by Health and Safety Executive often used as guidance in United Kingdom. It gives guidance on the minimum welfare facilities that must be provided or made available to workers on construction sites.
The nature and scale of facilities required will depend on the size, location and type of project. Suitable welfare facilities must be available for all workers during all working hours. As a minimum, these will be access to toilet and washing facilities, a supply of clean drinking water, a place to take a breaks and meals and store clothing, shelter in bad weather, and first aid facilities. Most, if not all of these will be covered by local or national regulatory requirements.
TYPES OF WELFARE FACILITIES
Good welfare facilities not only improve workers’ welfare but also enhance efficiency. The facilities may be provided and maintained by one contractor or by individual contractors for all workers (ILO, 1995). General welfare facilities that provided on site include:
Sanitary and toilet facilities
Changing rooms and lockers
WELFARE FACILITIES REQUIREMENTS
“The main health and safety requirements in construction relate to tidy sites and decent welfare, falls from height, manual handling, and transport on site” (Laryea S. and Mensah S. ,2010)
In Malaysia, the welfare provision refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (Act 514), Factory and Machineries Act 1967 (Act 139) and Construction Industry Development Board Act 1994 (Act 520). Whereas In United Kingdom, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulation 2007 covers a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare and applies to the workplaces involving construction on sites.
By referring to Health, Safety and Executive, (1997), adequate and appropriate welfare facilities must be provided for employees ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ while them are at work even though in short period. This means that facilities must be provided unless it is clearly unreasonable in terms of time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty.
There is an important additional duty in this Regulation. The one in control of a site has to ensure that there are reasonable welfare facilities available at readily accessible places. HSE, 2010 has provided the information sheet for those in control of construction sites which describes minimum welfare facilities that should be provided or made available on fixed construction sites. In addition, the guidance note is based on a review of these instruments and legislation, as well as guidelines and best practices produced by a range of different private and public sector actions at national and international level. (IFC and EBRD, 2009).
The regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulation 2007 has stated few requirements for welfare facilities provided for construction industry. These include provide sanitary and washing facilities and an adequate supply of drinking water; rest facilities; facilities to change and store clothing. Good facilities can positively benefit health and well-being and can help to prevent dermatitis. The requirements of welfare facilities are as below:
The provision of workers’ accommodation is often related with the importation of an external workforce into an area (IFC and EBRD, 2009). There are several reasons that lead to this occurrence such as the local labour supply or skills base is inadequate, the workers are simply not available due to the remote location of the worksite or the particular skills required. Also it may happen as the labour requirements can only be fulfilled by migrant workers due to the nature of the work or the working conditions (IFC and EBRD, 2009).
The accommodation provided either in building type or conventional container for the sleeping and resting purpose. The workers’ accommodation for construction more relate to a temporary phase of a project (IFC and EBRD, 2009).
The accommodation provided shall be appropriate for its location and be clean, safe and at minimum, meet the basic needs of workers because the location of the facilities is important to prevent exposure to wind, fire, flood and other natural hazards (IFC and EBRD, 2009). Therefore, living accommodations are located within a reasonable distance from worksite as possible.
The building of living accommodation requires sufficient materials, appreciate maintenance as well as acceptable cleanliness free from nuisance of rubbish and other waste. It shall not be used for the storage of building materials purpose. (ILO, 1992)
The conventional container is generally used in Malaysia construction site because it is easily moved to new project (Tan, 2010). It is important to ensure good standards in living facilities. It helps to avoid safety hazards and to protect workers from diseases and illness resulting from humidity, spread of fungus, proliferation of insects or rodents, as well as to maintain a good level of morale (IFC and EBRD, 2009).
Sanitary and Toilet Facilities
Sanitary and toilet facilities include water closets, portable chemical toilets and urinals. Toilet facilities needed include the flushing toilets and running water which connected to mains water and drainage system if possible. The alternative way is to provide facilities with a built-in water supply and drainage tank (HSE, 2010).
An adequate number of toilets should be available at all times for construction workers. Adequate facilities mean by make sure that there are enough toilets for those expected to use, so that the people should not have to queue for long periods to go to the toilet. Toilet arrangements are essential to avoid any contamination and prevent the spread of infectious disease.
The following tables show the minimum number of toilets and urinals that should be provided. The number of toilets needed will be depends on the number of construction workers on site. The number of people at work (left column) refers to the maximum number likely to be in the workplace at any one time.
Table 2.2: Number of water closet for mixed used or women only
Number of people at work
Number of water closets
1 to 5
6 to 25
26 to 50
51 to 75
76 to 100
Source: HSE, 2007, Managing health and safety in construction. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 Approved Code of Practice
Table 2.3 Number of water closets and urinals for male user
Number of men at work
Number of water closets
Number of urinals
1 to 15
16 to 30
31 to 45
46 to 60
61 to 75
76 to 90
91 to 100
Source: HSE, 2007, Managing health and safety in construction. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 Approved Code of Practice
Table 2.3 refer to the case where sanitary facilities that provided for male user only. A urinal may either be an individual urinal or a section of urinal space which is at least 600 mm long.
Portable chemical toilets are only acceptable instead of making other adequate provision which is not reasonably practicable and it should be maintained and emptied regularly. The number of persons and the frequency of emptying are used to determine the number of portable toilets needed on site by using the ratio 1 toilet to 7 persons where portable toilets are emptied once a week (HSE, 2010).
Beside, toilet facilities are conveniently located and easily accessible. Shorter distance for travelling to toilet from worksite means that unnecessary and non-productive times are minimized (Tan, 2010). Standards range from 30 to 60 meters from rooms.
Sanitary and toilet facilities are never shared between male and female resident. Otherwise provide lockable doors instead of failing to provide separate facilities for different gender. Moreover, adequate supplies of toilet paper should be always be available. Specific additional sanitary facilities are provided for women where necessary.
It is essential for workers to maintain a good standard of personal hygiene but also to prevent contamination and the spread of diseases which result from inadequate sanitary facilities (IFC and EBRD, 2009). Always make sure that the facilities provided are well-lit, have good ventilation, cleaned frequently and kept in fully working condition (HSE, 2010). The number of utilization determines the frequency of cleaning. Basically, daily cleaning may not always be sufficient.
Work in the construction industry is often dusty and dirty as well as involving handling chemicals and other dangerous substances. Therefore, washing facilities provided as a basic hygiene measure, preventing chemical contaminating foods and so being eaten during snacks or meals, being absorbed through the skin or being carried home. Apart from that, it also functions to remove dirt and grime, which also can be ingested and cause sickness and disease.
Washing facilities include basins or sinks that allow people to wash their hands, face and forearms (HSE, 2007). Also, it consists of a supply of hot and cold, or warm, water which should be running water and soup or other washing agents for cleaning purpose that are enough for the workers. Washing or shower facilities is provided for particular dirty work or work exposing workers to hazardous substance such as concrete pouring (HSE,2007).
An adequate number of washing facilities should be provided to construction workers. Washing facilities should be provided in conjunction with toilets and changing areas. It should be located within reasonable distance from other facilities and from sleeping facilities in particular (HSE, 2010).
A clean supply from a tank should be provided instead of main water supply when it is not available (HSE, 2007).
Men and women can share basin used for washing hands, face and arms. Provided that a basin large enough to wash face, hands and forearms if necessary and also a means for drying hands such as paper towels or a hot air dryer (HSE, 1998).
Unisex shower facilities is available for both gender, provided that is stands alone, is lockable room and can only be used by one person at a time (HSE,2007).
These facilities must be kept in good working condition, cleaned frequently, and always ensure that there is sufficient ventilation and lighting (HSE, 2010).
Drinking water is essential for workers in the construction industry, irrespective of the type of work they do. To prevent dehydration, workers should always have easy access to a source of clean water. Therefore, a special attention to water quality and quantity is absolutely essential.
A supply of wholesome drinking water should be readily available, preferably from the mains. If this is not possible then bottles or tank should be provided for storing water, protected it from possible contamination as well as changeover sufficiently and regularly to prevent it from becoming stale or contaminated (HSE, 2007).
Mark clearly on the drinking water supply to distinguish between drinkable and non-drinkable water such as hazardous liquids or water which is not fit to drink. The supplying of drinking water requires cups or other drinking vessels at the outlet, unless the water is supplied in an upward jet, which can be drunk easily such as drinking fountain (HSE, 2007).
Drinking-water should not be placed in sanitary facilities, or in places where it can be contaminated by dust, chemicals or other substances. Whatever the source of water supply for drinking, whether at the mess accommodation or elsewhere on the site, it should be clearly marked as drinking-water in words or with a suitable sign.
Changing Rooms and Lockers
Changing rooms or lockers are particularly important for workers storing personal clothing that not worn on site such as jackets and training shoes and protective clothing that needed for site work such as high visibility jackets and safety boots (HSE, 2007).
Changing rooms should be provided with drying and clothes hanging which are easily accessible. Thus, they can separate their wet and dry clothing by hanging on the cupboard. This is essential to where some working clothes are likely to be contaminated by dangerous substances, atmospheric conditions or workplace conditions. Therefore, facilities should be provided to keep working cloths apart from personal clothing (Fon, 2006).
For smaller site, the site office may sufficient be a storage area but the separate lockers might be needed too. This is because there is a risk of protective site clothing contaminating everyday clothing, items should be stored separately (HSE, 1998).
If electrical heaters are used, ensure the room has well ventilation and fitted with a high temperature cut-out device where possible. Many fires have been caused by placing too much clothing to dry on electrical heaters, making the heater overheat.
Construction workers begin work early. They start their day alert and productive but their activity level decreases as the day passed. Therefore, short breaks taken frequently are much better than infrequent long breaks. Recovery is much faster as having rest before show signs of being really tired (ILO,1995).
Rest areas are not to be used to store plant, equipment or materials. It provides shelter from wind and rain. The rest facilities should have an adequate number of tables and chairs, a kettle or urn for boiling water and a means for warming up food such as a gas or electrical heating ring or microwave oven and be adequately heated.
Suitable and sufficient, readily accessible rest facilities should be provided. Work areas can be counted as rest areas and as eating facilities, provided they are adequately clean and there is a suitable surface on which to place food. On smaller sites, the site office or hut may suffice as rest area.
Canteen is adequately furnished and protected from the weather, where one can eat in comfort food brought from home or brought from vendors. Canteen may be used as rest facilities provided there is no obligation to purchase food. If canteen is provided, it does not only save the time for construction workers not going out for eating (Tan, 2010).
Standards range from providing tables, benches, individual drinking cups and plates to provide special drinking fountains. It should be situated away from workstations to minimize contact with dirt, dust or dangerous substances.
Good standards of hygiene in canteen are crucial. Facilities must be kept in a clean and sanitary condition as well as conform to hygiene and safety requirement.
EXAMPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE
WELFARE FACILITIES ISSUES
A company was found not to have provided welfare facilities at a construction site and was served with an improvement notice during an inspection section. The company was prosecuted as failed to provide the facilities within the timescale. The company received a £2000 fine for not complying with the notice, a £5000 fine for not providing the welfare facilities, and had to pay prosecution costs of £1272.
A construction company in Devon is caught by surprise for not having hot water and accessible toilet facilities on site and was fined 2,500 by HSE. Rod Hepper concluded:” Installing proper facilities on site costs far less than the fines that the HSE will impose if inspectors find the law being flouted.” (Pickles, 2001).
The Elliott Workspace Marketing Manager, Rod Hepper commented that there are still companies across UK that ignores the necessity of providing appropriate welfare facilities on construction sites in line with regulation in force even after warning from Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In reality, it is a legal requirement for the companies to provide proper toilet facilities and warm running water available at all times (How, 2006).
News from workplacelaw on date 13 Dec 2010, a builder whose employees had to work in unsanitary conditions, with no toilet or washing facilities, has appeared in court in Rochdale. Michael Connolly, 46, was prosecuted by the HSE after he repeatedly ignored calls to improve conditions at the site in Littleborough where he had employed contractors to convert a house into flats and shops. HSE inspectors who visited the site found that there were no toilets or washing facilities. ( http://www.workplacelaw.net/news/display/id/31712, 2010).
Work in the construction industry is hazardous and dirty; it involves much manual or physical activity. Welfare facilities such as the provision of drinking water, washing, sanitary and changing accommodation, rest rooms and shelter, facilities for preparing and eating meals, temporary housing, all help to reduce fatigue and improve worker’s health. The facilities may be provided and maintained by one contractor for all workers or by individual contractors.
Good facilities can positively benefit health and well-being and can help to prevent dermatitis. Good welfare facilities not only improve workers’ welfare but also enhance efficiency.
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IFC and the EBRD , 2009. Workers’ accommodation: processes and standards.A guidance note by IFC and the EBRD
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According to the International Labor Organization 1992, the general provisions of welfare are stated under clause 19.there should be adequate supply of wholesome drinking water provided at reasonable access of construction site.
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