Facilities on housing sites

This guidance is for contractors and builders undertaking housing construction. It outlines the occupational health and safety (OHS) duties of employers to provide employees with services on building sites. 

Date last updated

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Industries and topics
  • Construction

About this guidance

Employers must provide adequate facilities for housing construction sites to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and others using their sites.

This guidance applies to employers who construct, renovate or extend residential buildings or associated structures based on classes 1, 2 and 10 of the Building Code of Australia.

Structures include:

  • detached houses
    • attached dwellings, separated from each other by a fire resisting wall, such as, boarding and guest houses, hostels or similar with a floor area less than 300 square metres
      • ancillary buildings to the above, such as private garages, gazeboes and carports

        Multi-storey buildings above 3 habitable storeys, are not included in this guidance.

        The advice provided in this guidance is consistent with OHS law in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and with the National Standard for Construction Work.

        For guidance on facilities on larger housing sites, read Workplace facilities on medium sized residential construction developments in Related information.

        Facilities

        Facilities at housing construction sites to provide for the health, safety and welfare of employees and other persons working on that site.

        Examples of facilities are:

        • meal and shelter facilities
          • toilets
            • washing facilities
              • drinking water

                Who needs facilities

                Employers must provide facilities for their employees and other persons such as independent contractors and their employees using the site.

                Facilities are for:

                • employees
                  • contractors
                    • other persons
                      • visitors to the site

                        Meal and shelter facilities

                        Employers should provide hygienic and weatherproof meal and shelter facilities at the worksite as soon as possible. This could be a garage or a similar covered area.

                        These facilities should include:

                        • adequate seating, which could include a board across two trestles and other alternatives to chairs
                          • a hygenic surface for meals
                            • a rubbish bin with a lid or appropriate alternatives for the hygienic disposal of food scraps

                              A contractor can use their vehicle for shelter at the start of construction — only until they can make a more suitable area available.

                              Toilets

                              Employees must have easy access to clean and hygenic toilet facilities on the worksite. Provide self-contained fresh water flushing portable toilets if there is not a toilet connected to the sewerage system. Service these toilets at least once a month in accordance with the supplier's information and instructions.

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

                              • be kept clean
                                • be weatherproof
                                  • be well-lit and well ventilated (naturally or artificially)
                                    • have a hinged seat and lid
                                      • have a door which can be locked from inside
                                        • have a well-drained floor above ground level covered with a durable waterproof material
                                          • be provided with sufficient toilet paper
                                            • be set up to remain level and stable

                                              Toilets may be shared between sites if:

                                              • sites are under the control of the same employer or there is clear agreement between the employers
                                                • toilets are convenient and accessible to the employees on each site
                                                  • there is at least 1 toilet per 15 employees

                                                    Adequate and hygienic means for disposing of sanitary items need to be provided for toilets where required.

                                                    Hand washing facilities

                                                    Provide hand hand washing facilities, including clean water and soap inside or next to each toilet.

                                                    Drinking water

                                                    An adequate supply of clean drinking water must be available to all employees on the site. Install the site water tapping, complete with hose bib-tap, at the earliest opportunity.

                                                    Where a mains water supply connection is not possible, provide drinking water using flasks, labelled water containers, water bags or similar, so employees do not share drinking containers.

                                                    Provide mains water supply as soon as possible. Separate drinking water facilities from toilet facilities to ensure hygiene.

                                                    General Provisions

                                                    When providing facilities, consider the:

                                                    • location of the site
                                                      • type of work to be done
                                                        • number of employees
                                                          • availability of power and services

                                                            The employer should plan for:

                                                            • safe and convenient location of facilities
                                                              • positioning and construction to prevent flooding of facilities
                                                                • clear access to facilities at all times
                                                                  • hygienic and safe discharge of waste water
                                                                    • clean and sanitary facilities
                                                                      • adequate natural and/or artificial lighting for safe access and use of facilities

                                                                        Enclosed facilities should be well built and weatherproof and have adequate ventilation and lighting.

                                                                        Consultation

                                                                        Employers have a duty to consult with employees and contractors to determine the adequacy of facilities for their welfare, and if there is a need for more facilities to be provided for a particular site.