Under Section 21(2)(d) of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004, employers are required to:
"provide adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at any workplace under the control and management of the employer."
But what does this actually mean and what sort of facilities does it cover? The Act does not specify exactly what type of facilities might be considered "adequate". However, practical guidance on how to comply with Section 21(2)(d)is provided in two Compliance Codes (which in September 2008 replaced the old Codes of Practice):
- Workplace amenities and work environment Compliance Code, and
- First aid in the workplace Compliance Code.
The relevant sections of the Code are Sections 54 - 62 for Hand Washing; Sections 80 - 84 for Personal Storage; Sections 85 - 93 for Change Rooms; and Sections 94 - 102 for Shower Facilities. There is also a separate section in the Code covering amenities and facilities for special workplaces such as remote workplaces.
Hand washing facilities
- The employer should provide hand washing facilities for workers to clean their hands, and accessible at all times to the work areas, the dining room or eating areas and the toilets. There should be a minimum of one hand washing basin, with hot and cold or mixed taps, for each 30 workers (or part thereof).
- Each should have an area of at least one square metre of clear space allocated
- Paper towels with disposal facilities, properly laundered continuous roll towel or hot air dryers should be supplied with hand washing facilities. Soap or cleaning agents should be provided.
- Where the nature of the work causes workers to need a shower before leaving the workplace (eg dusty, dirty, hot or strenuous workplaces), the employer should provide separate shower facilities for each sex (unless they are capable of being secured to ensure privacy).
- Employers need to provide at least one shower for every 10 workers who may need to shower
- Each shower should have a floor space no less than 1.8 square metres; partitions at least 1650mm high between showers (commencing approx 300mm above floor level); an additional adjacent dressing area for each shower with a seat and hooks; and a lockable door enclosing the shower/dressing cubicle.
- The employer should provide portable shower units to service areas remote from fixed facilities.
- Each shower needs to be provided with clean hot and cold water and individual non-irritating soap or another cleaning agent.
- Nail or scrubbing brushes should be provided where grime or substances are unable to be removed by other methods.
- Drying facilities such as towels need to be provided where the work necessitates employees showering before leaving the workplace.
- In some workplaces, the work process involves substances which can be a contamination hazard, such as chemicals, lead or asbestos, or infectious agents. In some workplaces employers are required to provide facilities to enable employees to decontaminate themselves by showering and other means before leaving work. These additional duties are contained in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007. For a summary of the individual chapters, go to this page.
- Secure storage need to be provided for employees to accommodate personal property. It must be separate from the storage facilities provided for personal protective clothing and equipment, to avoid contamination of personal property.
- When workers are not normally working in one workplace, the employer should still ensure safe custody of personal property.
- Where any work involves the use of tools provided by an employee, provision need to be made for the secure and weatherproof storage of those tools during non-work hours.
- Where the workplace is temporary or mobile, lockable containers which can be held in a safe place need to be provided.
A change room is appropriate if the type of work means that workers need to wear personal protective clothing; are required to wear particular clothing such as uniforms, while working; or must leave their work clothing at the workplace.
- The change room should be private, separate from the other parts of the workplace, and big enough for workers to change and store their clothes;
- There should be separate change rooms for men and women;
- A clear space of not less than 0.5 square metres for each person changing at any one time should be allowed in calculating the size of the room. This space should be in addition to the space needed for locker, etc;
- Heating/cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature, hooks, mirrors and a suitable bench or seating should be provided;
- Lockers should be provided in change rooms for storing work clothing or personal clothing. There should be a space of at least 900 mm between lockers and benches or walls to allow walking and changing. Rows of lockers facing each other should be at least 1800mm apart;