A ‘Dummies’ Guide’ to Hiring Welfare Units

29th July 2019
Welfare Hire 101 blog post

Things to consider before hiring site accommodation

If you employ staff, you are obliged to provide ‘adequate and appropriate’ welfare facilities for them for the duration of their working day.

On construction sites, this provision is commonly referred to as ‘site accommodation’ or simply ‘welfare’. The type of welfare required for a site depends on several factors, some of which I will try to detail here.

According to the HSE information sheet (59) ‘Provision of welfare facilities during construction work’: ‘Construction workers need adequate toilet and washing facilities, a place to warm up and eat their food and somewhere to store clothing.’

The document recommends providing the following as ‘good facilities can positively benefit health and well-being and can help to prevent dermatitis:’

  • Well maintained toilets with an effective means of flushing with water*
  • Washing facilities
  • Drinking water
  • Rest facilities
  • Changing rooms and lockers (if workers are required to change clothing)*
  • Heating

*Appropriate facilities for female workers should also be taken into consideration.

The document goes into more detail on each of the points above, which I won’t bore you with here.

Suffice it to say that welfare provisions should enable workers to take an adequate break during the day away from the elements and maintain some level of hygiene!

Making an assessment

The first step into hiring welfare accommodation for your site should be to make an assessment of the site itself and the workers who will be frequenting the site.

Start with:

  • How many workers/sub-contractors will be using the site on an average day?
  • Can a lorry access the site/pick up the accommodation once the project is complete?
  • How much space do you have for the accommodation itself?
  • Do you have access to utilities – electricity/mains water/drainage?
  • How long is the project for?
  • Do office staff/managers need desk space/access to a meeting space?
  • Do you require furniture?
  • Are extra secure or anti-vandal units necessary?
  • Do you want to register the site with the Considerate Constructors scheme or do you need to maintain Considerate Constructors compliance for your company?
  • Is my company/site committed to reducing its carbon footprint?
Getting a quote

Once you’ve completed your assessment, it’s time to look for a welfare provider. Unless your company has an existing contract with a hirer, you’re likely to head to Google for answers.

Herein lies a problem we’ve noticed – welfare is known by a myriad of different names. We put effort into making sure that we can be found no matter what keywords customers use – ‘site cabins’, ‘site offices’, ‘TAUs’ and ‘portable buildings’ are popular alternatives, although we have been asked for brand names that are now defunct or belong to other hirers!

Our staff are fully trained to assist with any enquiry, big or small, and our customer checklist enables us to obtain all the information we need to provide a quote with the least hassle.

I spoke to Bridget Bonsall, Depot Manager at our Cornwall depot to find out what questions are asked most frequently regarding welfare hire.

Bridget’s top ten are:

  1. Can you access our site with your lorry?
  2. What do I place the units on? Does the ground need to be level?
  3. What’s included in the price?
  4. What size generator will I need?
  5. How often is the effluent tank emptied?
  6. What are the energy-saving features of the eco cabins?
  7. How many toilets are sufficient for x amount of people?
  8. Are female toilets necessary even if there are no female employees?
  9. How are the cabins connected to mains electric?
  10. If I decide to keep the building for a long time, is there an option to buy it?

For bigger projects or projects with continually changing demands, a site visit can clear up a lot of confusion on both sides.

After all the information has been obtained, a hirer can recommend which type of accommodation is most suitable.

A full range of solutions are available from Wernick Hire, so whether you require a 6 man ‘self-contained’ mobile unit, or a multi-storey eco village, we can get it sorted.