The local workplace safety authorities in all states and territories in Australia have particular rules, legislation and codes of conduct in place that determine the sorts of amenities that need to be provided to workers (and visitors) on construction sites.
While these rules differ slightly from state to state, they all generally agree on the basic requirements. The Principal Contractor (i.e. the builder) is responsible for ensuring that these amenities are fully provided for, and properly maintained.
Types of amenities that are required are:
- shelter areas for meals
- washing facilities
- access to drinking water
- adequate first aid facilities
Other requirements in certain states may include special provisions depending on the location of the site, the nature of the work being done or when there are more than a certain number of workers. In Queensland, for example, a site with more than 15 workers needs to have facilities that offer adequate space and seating, facilities to wash and store utensils, to boil water, and to store food in a cool place.
Shelter areas for meals
One of the basic requirements for construction sites is to provide a sheltered and weatherproofed area for workers to take breaks and eat meals. This area should provide adequate seating and a clean surface to eat from, and a bin with a lid or something similar where food scraps can be disposed of.
When construction’s just beginning, workers’ vehicles can be used for these purposes.
A seriously important part of any construction site. Workers should always have convenient access to toilet facilities. These are normally provided for in the form of a portable toilet (or ‘portaloo’).
In most cases, the rules state that there should be at least one toilet for every 15 workers.
This can be as simple as a tap with fresh running water, and should be located in or near the toilet. Soap should also be provided.
Access to drinking water
This should ideally come in the form of a supply of fresh tap water to the site, and should be made available as early on as possible. If a mains water supply isn’t available, there needs to be a ready supply of drinking water from some other source – either in bottles, bags, flasks or similar.
Adequate first aid facilities
Injuries are practically inevitable on building sites. It’s the builder’s responsibility to make sure that there’s always ready access to appropriate and adequate first aid equipment.