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Washroom Guidelines: How to comply with best practices

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Best Practices and regulation for Washroom Design

At Washware Essentials, talking about toilets is what we do best, and we regularly offer expert advice on all manner of lavatorial topics, from buying the best toilets for your building to the advantages and disadvantages of infrared taps.
 
As specialists in our field, one of the most common questions our clients ask is: What are the rules and regulations for toilets?
 
The main code of practice for business owners is the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. In summary, the guidance states:

Appropriate and sufficient sanitary amenities should be easily accessible.

Sanitary conveniences will not be deemed suitable unless:a) washrooms are sufficiently ventilated and well-lit
b) they are regularly maintained for cleanliness  
c) separate facilities are provided for men and women, except in cases where single conveniences are available in a room with lockable doors.


Additionally, the regulations state the minimum number of toilets and wash basins that should be provided. For mixed-use or women-only facilities the advice is:

No. of people at work

No. of toilets

No. of washbasins

1 to 5

1

1

6-25

2

2

26-50

3

3

51-75

4

4

76-100

5

5

 
For male toilet facilities, the instructions are:
 

No. of men at work

No. of toilets

No. of urinals

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

 

Furthermore, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published welfare at work guidance for employers, which summarises the broader regulations noted above.
 
The key points regarding toilet facilities are:

People shouldn’t be expected to queue for extended periods to use facilities
Ideally, walls and floors should either be tiled or made from waterproof material, enabling easier cleaning
Sufficient supply of toilet roll must be provided, and female amenities should be equipped with appropriate sanitary towel waste bins
Hot and cold running water is essential, as well as an adequate supply of soap
For staff carrying out dirty work, showers should be provided as necessary
Washbasins must be big enough to wash hands as well as forearms where necessary, and appropriate means for drying hands must be provided, i.e. paper towel dispensers or electric hand dryers.

If your workforce is operating at a temporary site, you still need to provide adequate toilet facilities and should hire portable facilities or chemical toilets and water containers. The use of public toilets should only be considered a last resort when providing better facilities is not reasonably practicable.
 
It is also a legal requirement to provide drinking water which is free from contamination, ideally from the public water supply or via bottled water dispensers. You must have sufficient supply, taking into consideration temperatures and the nature of work being carried out.   
 
You can view our range of drinking stations here.
 
Disabled toilet regulations

Workplaces must also have adequate toilet facilities for wheelchair users, and new buildings should comply with regulations outlined in Section 5 of Document M, Vol. 2 - Buildings other than dwellings.

Ultimately, it is considered preferable to provide a specially designed cubicle for the ambulant disabled in separate-sex washrooms, or a self-contained unisex toilet. Here is a diagram of measurements published within the guidance:

 


For more detail, please view our range of Doc M Disabled WC Packs.

General washroom guidelines

If your business makes and serves food, toilets must not open directly onto the preparation area, as outlined in official Food Standards Agency advice.

Much debate surrounds the topic of whether food outlets, such as small cafes and takeaways, have to provide toilets for customers. Ultimately, the regulations are decided at a local level, so one town may stipulate a minimum number of toilets while the next town may not. Thus, it’s best to check the rules with your local authority.

Another hot topic of conversation centres around the provision of gender-neutral toilets, with such facilities growing in popularity in recent times. Although no official legislation has been made, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated that the capital needs more gender-neutral public toilets to help trans and non-binary people feel more comfortable.

There has been growing support for this sentiment all over the UK, and many workplaces are now adopting unisex facilities to offer a more inclusive environment to all. For further insight, feel free to read our guide to planning a unisex bathroom.

Ultimately, when it comes to toilets, employers should ask themselves whether they would be happy using the facilities provided for staff. If the answer is no, urgent action needs to be taken to address the situation.

For detailed guidance on best practices for school toilets, please read our school toilet planning guide.

If you’d like further advice on any aspect of washroom design or equipment, our friendly team will be happy to help, so please contact us today.