Men and women are forced to share toilets and washing facilities on nearly one in five construction sites.
A survey of more than 3,500 Unite members working in the construction sector has found that many are forced to endure entirely inadequate toilets and washing facilities, with 17% of men and women sharing toilets as there were no separate facilities for women workers.
In total 18% of respondents’ workplaces did not have adequate toilet facilities – and 10% of sites did not supply toilet paper.
Despite construction invariably involving dirty and physical work, more than half of respondents (51%) said their workplace did not have any showers. And when showers were provided, in 16% of cases there were no separate showers for women.
Where showers and toilets were provided there remain issues about their cleanliness: 3% of respondents said that showers and toilets were never cleaned, while 8% said they were only cleaned weekly.
The supply of water on sites was also a concern with 17% saying they did not have drinking water, 14% had no cold water and 22% of sites did not provide hot water.
Some respondents also expressed concern about the cleanliness of canteen/mess facilities. In 4% of cases they were never cleaned, while 6% said these facilities were only cleaned weekly.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Providing toilets and washing facilities is not a luxury, they are a basic human right.
“This survey must act as a wake-up call to the construction industry. In the 21st century there is no excuse for any workplace not to provide clean and decent welfare facilities.
“Companies that fail to provide decent welfare facilities can and should be prosecuted and this is an area where Unite is working with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure standards are improved.
“Where Unite is organised on a site we will always ensure that decent welfare facilities are provided and will ensure our members take the necessary measures to ensure they are in place.”