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Provision of facilities on construction sites (Construction Bulletin)
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Provision of facilities on construction sites (Construction Bulletin)


Every year, the Department of Labour receives complaints about the lack of facilities and amenities onsite for construction workers to use.  Not only is it offensive to the public who view workers using fences and holes in the ground as a toilet, there is also a health risk to people who may come into contact with the contaminated area.

The construction industry must consider the safety, health and wellbeing of workers from the costing/tendering process through to the successful completion of a project.  This includes providing facilities on sites.

This bulletin is aimed at principals, employers, the self-employed and those who control construction workplaces.  It gives guidance on the facilities that are to be made available to workers on construction sites.


Facilities to be available on all sites

“Facilities” are those that are necessary for the wellbeing of all workers on a construction site, such as washing, toilet, rest and changing facilities, and somewhere clean to eat and drink during rest breaks.



There are always a number of different people involved on any construction project, no matter what size.  All parties involved in a project at the time of tender/estimates should be formalising who is going to provide and maintain the necessary facilities. 


For information on safe and successful contracting management, download “A Principal’s Guide to Contracting to Meet the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992”.


[image]  This chart displays the standard relationship between a principal, contractors, sub-contactors and employees in a simple contracting project. The principal has legal obligations under section 18 the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to contractors, sub-contractors, and the contractor’s employees.  There is a principal/contractor relationship between the principal and the contractor, and between the contractor and the sub-contractor.  The contractor also has obligations under section 6 of the Act to ensure the safety of his/her employees.

Source: A Principal’s Guide to Contracting to Meet the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992: A Guide for Workplace.  Department of Labour, Wellington, May 2010.



If a person is employed (however short the period of work) the employer must ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ provide adequate and appropriate facilities for employees while they are at work.

It may not always be practicable to provide certain facilities on a particular site, as the necessary facilities may be available close by.  Where this is the case, the employer must ensure that employees have access to such facilities in a way that is convenient to them.


Persons who control places of work

A person who controls a place of work has a duty to ensure that no hazard that is or arises in the place harms people in the vicinity of the place, or people lawfully at work in the place as employees, contractors, subcontractors, or employees or any contractor or subcontractor.

This means that the person who controls a place of work needs to ensure that adequate facilities are available for workers. 


Self-Employed People

The self-employed have to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of their own harms themselves or any other person.  For this to occur, the self-employed must ensure that they have access to facilities on site or close by.



The principal has a duty to ensure that no employee or a contractor or subcontractor or individual is harmed while working.  This means that the principal needs to ensure that adequate facilities are available for workers.



Employees have to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of their own harms themselves or any other person.  Therefore it is important that the employer has provided adequate facilities on site, or where it may not be practicable to provide certain facilities on a particular site, the employer has to ensure that access to such facilities is in a way that is convenient to the employee.



These duties demonstrate that a number of people have a responsibility for ensuring that facilities are provided or accessible to workers on all construction projects.  Communication between parties is essential for ensuring that adequate and suitable facilities are provided before work begins on any projects.

Matters to be considered when planning facility provision include:

  • The work to be carried out and the associated health risks
  • The duration and number of different locations
  • The number of people working at different locations
  • The distance from other facilities.


General Requirements

Facilities include toilets, washing facilities, changing and rest areas, drinking water and eating facilities.  In addition to the provision of facilities, regular maintenance and cleaning will be required.  Particularly dirty work hazardous to health, e.g. sewer maintenance, may require the provision of additional washing and changing facilities.



Facilities should be as near as practicable to the work but may be off-site if transport is provided.  In all cases, facilities should not be so remote as to discourage their use by workers.

Where the toilet is not connected to a sewerage system, it must be a self-contained portable toilet, regularly serviced in accordance with the supplier’s information and instructions.

Toilets must be kept clean and tidy.

To provide an acceptable standard of hygiene and privacy, the toilet must be:

  • Conveniently located and readily accessible to all on-site workers
  • Soundly constructed of material that can be easily cleaned and is weatherproof
  • Well lit and well ventilated, either naturally or artificially
  • Provided with a hinged seat and lid
  • Provided with a door which can be locked from inside, and outside when not workers are on site
  • Provided with a well drained floor above ground level which is covered with a durable waterproof material
  • Provided with a plentiful supply of toilet paper
  • Provided with soap, water and paper towels.
  • If it is not possible to provide soap, water and paper towels they may be substituted with a suitable hand sanitiser.

Toilets may be shared if:

  • There is clear agreement between all the parties
  • The toilets are convenient and readily accessible to the workers on each site
  • There is at least one toilet per ten workers.

If a privy pit is to be located on any site, approval has to be obtained in writing from the local authority.  The type of construction of the toilet is as earlier stated.


Use of private and public facilities

Use of public toilets and washing facilities should be a last resort and not just used because they are the cheaper option!  This is not acceptable where the provision of better facilities on site would be reasonably practicable.

Where the construction activity is a long way from central facilities, use of facilities in private premises, such as in cafes, is not considered suitable as permanent alternative arrangements.

The use of private facilities or public toilets may be acceptable in limited circumstances, e.g. where there is no alternative and the work is of no more than a few hours duration.  Permission, preferably in writing, should be obtained from the proprietor in advance of the work starting.

Where public or private toilets are used they need to be readily accessible to the worksite, open at all relevant times, be at no cost to the employee, be of an acceptable standard in terms of cleanliness and have hand-washing facilities.  Workers need to be made aware of the arrangements to use them and be informed of their location before work begins.


Washing Facilities

Adequate and suitable facilities for washing should be provided for the use of workers on construction sites.  These facilities should include hot water and suitable cleansing agents in any of the following cases:

  • Where workers are exposed to potential skin contamination from poisonous, infectious, irritating or sensitive substances
  • Where workers are handling materials that are difficult to wash from the skin with cold water only
  • Where due to any of these circumstances, or where because a worker has suffered prolonged exposure to excessive heat or cold, or is employed for prolonged periods in unusually wet conditions, it is necessary for the worker to cleanse the whole of the body, an adequate number of showers should be provided.


Accommodation for meals

Adequate accommodation should be provided in which workers may take their meal breaks, spend rest periods and shelter from bad weather.

Any such accommodation should have a suitable floor, be furnished with suitable seats and tables, and other furniture and equipment to ensure that meals may be taken with reasonable comfort and security from the weather.  A suitable receptacle with a tightly fitting cover should be provided for rubbish, and it should be emptied and cleaned at suitable intervals.  Provision should be made for boiling water at meal times and rest periods.


Rest and meal breaks

The Employment Relations Act 2000 requires employers to provide compulsory paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks, depending on the hours worked.  For further information, visit our website.


Provision of shelter

A suitable changing room should be provided for persons employed in the work, and adequate and suitable accommodation provided for clothing not worn during work hours.

Where workers are subject to wet conditions while at work, a means of drying clothes should be provided.


Drinking water

A readily accessible and plentiful supply of cool, clean, drinkable water must be available to all workers on the site.

The site water tapping, complete with hose bib-tap, should be installed at the earliest opportunity.  Where an external hose bib-tap is the drinking water supply source, the surrounding area needs to be drained and kept clear or rubbish and site debris.

Where a mains water supply connection is not possible, drinking water may be provided using containers marked “Drinking Container”.  These containers should be emptied and refilled daily from a wholesome source.

Drinking water facilities must be separated from toilet and washing facilities to ensure adequate hygiene.



The Smoke Free Environments Act 1990 does not permit smoking in any internal areas of the workplace.  This includes any buildings that are enclosed by doors, windows, walls and a roof or ceiling. Further information about Smoke Free Law.

Smoking should not occur in areas where flammable products are being used or stored.


For more information

Contact the nearest Department of Labour office, phone 0800 20 90 20 or visit

Published by the Department of Labour, Wellington, New Zealand
No. 28 - Revised September 2010

Last updated 22 March 2016


On Monday 4 April 2016, the New Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) came into effect.

HSWA repeals the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with immediate effect.

All references to the 1992 Act on this website and within our guidance will be progressively removed.