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Rex Stanton  
#1 Posted : 12 January 2020 08:45:04(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Rex Stanton

Good morning

I am looking for some advice/ assurance please.  I am working for a company who employs mobile workers.  These are street services e.g. grass cutting, street sweeping etc.  they are, in my opinion, not providing adequate welfare provision for these workers.  There are potentially 4 people in a vehicle cab which is also used for storage of PPE and basic equipment.  they have no means to heat food or access to drinking water unless carrying their own bottles.  They have a hot water flask.  Toilets are scattered about the work areas

The area in whcih they are expected to eat gets dirty due to the nature of the works and also they are expected to keep warm using the vehicle heater.

There are facilities available around the area that could provide these within a maximum of 20 minutes from any site.  Staff have been informed that if they choose to go to one of these sites the travel time it takes from site to this facility and back is taken from their allocated break.

I personally think this is against the welfare regulations as their is the facilities that can be used but it comes at a cost of the welfare of the staff.

There are women workers as well as men within this area of work.

Any clarification/pointers in  the right direction would be most gratefully received.

Kind regards

rex

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Kim Hedges on 26/01/2020(UTC)
achrn  
#2 Posted : 13 January 2020 10:42:00(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

I think this will get complicated, if you try and resolve it by statutory minimum requirements rather than by negotiatitig a reasonable compromise, and depends on whether the staff's breaks are greater than the statutory minimum.

I don't think there’s an explicit requirement that the statutory 20 minute break needs to happen in a place that has all the statutory welfare facilities immediately to hand.  That is, you need to have a 20 minute break, and you need to have access to toilets, washing facilities, drinking water etc. but I don't think it necessarily follows that you need to have the facilities, drinking water etc at the place you take the break.

I suspect the staff in question could play merry hell with a work-to-rule campaign and decide they need to use the toilet facilities (say) 45 minutes before their break, so they drive 20 minutes to the toilet, use it, drive back to work, then five minutes later take their statutory break…

I think water bottles are fine as a drinking water supply – it doesn’t need to be mains water, it needs to be drinking water.

You need to be able to take your break away from where you are working, but you are not obliged to take your break away from where you are working.

The argument that travelling to and from where the employee wants to take their break comes out of their own time is not completely unreasonable. If it were an office, for example, and a worker wants to get lunch in a restaurant in the next town (as some of the people in this office do) they don’t get to count driving to and fro (which takes them 20 minutes each way, I guess) as working time and only count their break as the minutes when they are in the restaurant.  We let them do that (we have flexible hours for nearly all staff - most can arrange their day to give anything up to a 90-minute lunch break) but that obviosuly doesn't work for all workplaces.

Bigmac1  
#3 Posted : 13 January 2020 11:15:29(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Bigmac1

The requirements for a mobile workforce are slightly different than those working remotely in a fixed location.

AcornsConsult  
#4 Posted : 13 January 2020 11:59:42(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AcornsConsult

I agree in oart with achrn that it wiould be unreasonable to allow an office worker to travel to the next town to get lunch, however thats not really reflective of the scenario.  The office worker has a host of benefits above those of the OP's workers as alternatives to going to the next town.
I also agree that using the statutory times is not helpful to either side of the debate.  Perhaps the question posed to the managers / HS team is to ask how the welfare question can be resolved, let them decide where and how the workers can have access to relevant facilities during the shift.  
For example, toilets / place to eat may be available in close proximity but its at a competitors premises or a high profile place that would be adverse to the employers for their staff to be seen at (So many media pics of police / ambo at various burger sites suggesting its 'wrong').    Let the manager suggest where facilities are available and suitable to be used but do not impinge or only lightly impinge on the days activities.  

Surely its the task of the managers to solve rather than the employees!  

jmaclaughlin  
#5 Posted : 13 January 2020 15:22:09(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jmaclaughlin

A practical solution would be to hire a welfare van, seeing as they have a lockable toilet at the rear, this also resloves the male/female question.

The risk  I would highlight to management, is the event of a worker getting food posioning due to eating in unhygenic food preparation area or perhaps being caught short and observed urinating in public, presumably wearing PPE with company logo on display?

Gasman  
#6 Posted : 13 January 2020 17:58:03(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Gasman

This has always been an issue for which I have agrued in favor of the mobile workers. Seriosly a portaloo and hand washing facilities are really cheap to hire from the plethera of hire firms out there. Also you can hire welfare vans with microwaves and kettles/ eating areas etc. Really annoys the hell out of me when people/companies want to scrimp and cost save on the most basic of human amenities. Come on we are Health and Safety proffesionals who the "&)$"* cares about the few extra hundred pounds it may cost to sort this out properly over having potentially a woman have no place to use facilites. Why are these mobile workers being treated as slaves? Come on man this is rediclous. 

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Dazzling Puddock on 14/01/2020(UTC), ttxela on 27/01/2020(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#7 Posted : 13 January 2020 19:51:57(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

If you get in to the realms of trying to use break time as travel time you run the risk that employees calculated pay rates drop below the national minimum wage which is not a good situation for a business reliant upon either council or major client contracts particularly those clients with reporting duties under Modern Slavery.

The directive sets a minimum 20 minute break for every eight hours scheduled work (and not to be taken at the start or end) please explain how you take a 40 minute round trip from a 20 minute break whilst still providing the legal minimum break?

There appear to be serious omissions in the competency of the management advice to this business.

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Dazzling Puddock on 14/01/2020(UTC)
O'Donnell54548  
#8 Posted : 16 January 2020 13:53:16(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
O'Donnell54548

I think we may be straying from the original concept here of 'mobile workers', seeming to have strayed into construction (which I accept may have been where the original poster wanted to go?).

I believe that it may be 'mobile workers' such as bin men, street cleaners, ground maintenance etc which are in question here. In such situations mobile mess huts and porta-loos are not practicable solutions. Maybe those local authority 'bods' out there could let us know what arrangements they have for these type of 'mobile workers'.

inspector Gadget  
#9 Posted : 20 January 2020 10:42:36(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
inspector Gadget

The key point is what is "reasonable".

Is it "reasonable" to expect workers to eat their lunch with dirty hands? no.

Is it "reasonable" to allow them 20mins to wash up before eating? i think so. 

O'Donnell54548  
#10 Posted : 21 January 2020 08:05:03(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
O'Donnell54548

It is worrying that no one has come forward with a solution to this enquiry. I can only assume that it is a subject which is being largely ignored by employers and H&S practitioners alike, and forms no ones SSW or RA for the type of mobile workers which this thread has identified.

Maybe they are too busy looking at subjects like mental wellbeing to bother with such mundane matters as be able to go to the toilet while you are at work. Perhaps IOSH's committment to stamping out modern slavery is not so far removed from a practitioners life as we had all thought??

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ttxela on 27/01/2020(UTC)
Rex Stanton  
#11 Posted : 26 January 2020 15:54:19(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Rex Stanton

Many thanks for your replies.  I tend to agree that in this day and age to expect anyone, and bear in mind this a worforce of men and women, to sit in a dirty van, cold and wet with no facilities to wash in hot water, go to a toilet and eat food in a clean envirnoment i think Health and Safety is going backwards.

Also if you want these facilities you have to drive in your own time to get their or be penalised.  this means in some cases travelling 15 minutes to a welfare facility, drive back from a welfare facilitry and then have no time to eat or rest.

As a safety professional I think these type of workplaces who impose these draconian restrictions should have their heating turned off, welfare facilities removed etc.  who wants to bet the decision would be loked at differently.  apolgies for rant !!

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ttxela on 27/01/2020(UTC)
Kim Hedges  
#12 Posted : 26 January 2020 22:04:01(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kim Hedges

There is no excuse in this day and age not to provide a welfare caravan where the workers are working, without exception.  

If I was an HSE Inspector (i'm not) I'd serve an improvement notice first, give them 2 weeks and see what transpires, then issue a Prohibition notice. 

Makes my blood boil when I read about (or witness) welfare abuses. 

Messey  
#13 Posted : 27 January 2020 07:00:52(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Messey

This will be post No 13 and still no reasonable solution other than portaloos and welfare vans. Really? For mobile workers?

OK, lets think of an actual example. Three workers with litter pickers are tasked with clearing  2 miles of roadside verges on a dual carraigeway. They are dropped off so have no access to a van. They carry water/food in theor own personal back pack

This is a common site btween sprink & autumn. So what about their welfare facilities???

Even if you drop off a portaloo half way, its going to be a long trek

jmaclaughlin  
#14 Posted : 27 January 2020 08:55:41(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jmaclaughlin

If you use the welfare van to ferry your workers to and from work site, then presumably one welfare van could service several sites?

Roundtuit  
#15 Posted : 27 January 2020 09:12:10(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Three phone calls:

1) HMRC national minimum wage enforcement

2) LA Environmental Health - breach of HASAW

3) LA Highways / Highways Authority as they will be amongst the clients issuing contracts and supposedly vetting providers through PQQ

Kim Hedges  
#16 Posted : 29 January 2020 16:13:33(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kim Hedges

I saw this on the weekly buletin and thought I'd bring it to your attention.  An HSE prosecution regarding a lack of welfare.  https://press.hse.gov.uk/2020/01/06/contractor-fined-for-failing-to-provide-minimum-welfare-facilities/

Roundtuit  
#17 Posted : 29 January 2020 16:24:19(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Not really applicable to mobile workers - this is a property refurbishment

Dazzling Puddock  
#18 Posted : 29 January 2020 17:00:34(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Dazzling Puddock

LA workers such as Lands & Parks or Waste would return to the depot for breaks and the travel time is not counted as break time because it isnt break time.

Roads staff would do the same unless the job lasts more than two days, then a welfare trailer will be put on site if possible.

Welfare trailers are available for the workers at all times in reality but many of the staff do not want to tow them around so a happy balance has to be found.

All mobile workers have a map with the locations of public toilets marked but public toilets are getting as rare as hen's teeth.

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