Business development · 10 October 2019

7 things you need for a legally compliant and productive office

office facilities

For a team to be healthy and productive, their office environment doesn’t just have to be aesthetically ‘pleasant, ‘ it has to be health and safety checked to be a legally compliant space too. This includes providing your office and by extension your staff with adequate facilities that befits the size of their team.

The legal aspect of what an employer is required to provide an office team with, in terms of facilities, is grounded in the Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations Act of 1992. This piece of UK legislation has set the benchmark for what UK businesses need to provide in their workspaces for it to be a health and safety compliant space.

1. Private and well-stocked toilets

office toilets
Are you providing the right number of toilets for the size of your team? Source: aaztec
Starting with the (not necessarily pleasant), but the crucial subject of toilets; the number of restroom facilities an employer has to provide their staff with depends on the size of the workforce in question. The compliant conditions for these workspace loos are:

  • Good lighting
  • Good ventilation
  • Soap/handwash
  • Drying facilities (either a machine or towels are compulsory)
  • Hot and cold running water
Toilet spaces can becreated and allocated for men and women’separately. However, if this is not possible, (and in light of supporting transgender and gender-neutral workers’ rights), mixed-use toilets are becoming the norm, but they must be in separate lockable rooms and not in’stalls’. This way the privacy and dignity of all employees, regardless of their identities, are equally protected.

The minimum requirements based on team size (for mixed-use or women only toilets)

  • 1-5 employees one toilet and one washbasin
  • 6-25 employees two toilets and washbasins
  • 26-50 employees three toilets and washbasins
  • 51-75 employees four toilets and washbasins
  • 76-100 employees five toilets and washbasins

2. Changing rooms

If your staff undertake work where they are dealing with hazardous chemicals, work in potentially unhygienic conditions or perform physically exerting tasks then you need to provide them with adequate changing facilities.

These include creating showering areas and allocating private changing spaces for men and women separately, including providing them with space to dry and store their clothes.This is especially important if staff wear different uniforms to perform certain tasks and need to change often.

3. A food and drink area

food and drink area
Does your office have a designated ‘eating area’?
Does your office have a communal water supply, such as a drinking fountain? Well, you should, as you’re legally obliged to provide your staff with easily accessible and drinkable water.

What to do about it

You can opt for a water dispenser ( if you don’t have traditional kitchen facilities that include hot and cold running water taps). Employers must also offer a kettle for staff to make hot drinks and a microwave in order for them to heat up meals. There also needs to be allocated space for them to eat their meals if there is no seated kitchen or canteen area in the workspace.

4. Supportive furniture

The most obvious point here is office chairs. Do they provide your staff with the level of adequate back support they need or are they constantly getting up and stretching or fidgeting uncomfortably in their seats?

The tools you can buy…

Budget permitting, investing in back support cushions or even laptop/computer stands to ensure staff aren’t hunching over their devices when working are good steps to take. Making these changes can increase employee comfort, and therefore productivity and avoid the time-wasting that comes with dealing with discomfort.

5. Good lighting

good lighting
How would you rate the quality of lighting in your office?

 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Annie May is the Features Editor at Real Business and Business Advice. Following her graduation from LSE, she embarked upon a freelance career in current affairs journalism. Annie has written on subjects varying from African history and contemporary politics to community business and current affairs news in London. At Real Business and Business Advice, Annie is passionate about highlighting inclusive and diverse business disruptors and organisations for our evolving readership. Annie believes in fostering community inclusion and has volunteered for organisations such as Fairfield House, a UK based Rastafari centre and a senior citizen association for ethnic minority men and women.

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