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jennielouises  
#1 Posted : 28 August 2020 16:31:36(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jennielouises

In our office block they have decided that the toilets are limited to those on that floor and only one person can be in the room at a time. There are 100 people on each floor, 3 ladies toilets, and 2 cublices and 2 urinals in the mens. 

Obviously the landlord has a legal duty to provide adequate easy access to the toilets. The social distancing guidance on the HSE site says, 'Refusing access for any reason, including as an infection control measure, is against the law.' But it also has guidance saying, 'To protect people when using existing toilet and washing facilities consider the following:... 'Put in place systems such as 'one in, one out' if it isn't possible to maintain social distancing.' 

The space between the cubicles and the sink is less than a metre so it isn't possible to maintain social distancing. Our other building has just marked the middle cucbile out of use but that wouldn't solve the issue here. 

To me, that sounds like they are able to do this but my colleague as this is just guidance, and the legal duty comes from the regulation for welfare at work, that this solution is dangerous, unacceptable as the numbers aren't sufficient. So I wanted to turn to others to see what their interpretation is? If my colleague is correct then I will challenge our landlords

Roundtuit  
#2 Posted : 28 August 2020 16:48:34(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Why are the landlords involved? It is employers who have duties to provide welfare facilities not landlords.

If a landlord wishes to reduce provision that was previously available then they should also reduce the rent.

If the floors or building have a single employer it should be them setting the rules.

Where there are multiple employer occupants then just like fire arrangements etc. these should be by discussion amongst those present.

Roundtuit  
#3 Posted : 28 August 2020 16:48:34(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Why are the landlords involved? It is employers who have duties to provide welfare facilities not landlords.

If a landlord wishes to reduce provision that was previously available then they should also reduce the rent.

If the floors or building have a single employer it should be them setting the rules.

Where there are multiple employer occupants then just like fire arrangements etc. these should be by discussion amongst those present.

jennielouises  
#4 Posted : 28 August 2020 17:05:09(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jennielouises

That's not true. HSE website says, 'The legal responsibility to provide access to these facilities lies with whoever controls the premises.' We are the tenant, we don't control the premises 

jennielouises  
#5 Posted : 28 August 2020 17:09:16(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jennielouises

We aren't the only occupier of our floor. There is another company on the other side of the hallway. We have a building management company who control the premises so it is their legal duty, not ours. We pay a service charge for them to manage these things

But that is besides the point, I wasn't asking who's legal duty it was, I need to know whether putting in place a 'one-in, one'out' system to reduce the risk of Covid-19, goes against the welfare legislation 

Roundtuit  
#6 Posted : 28 August 2020 21:23:03(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Be careful with HSE guidance versus regulatory text.

To determine "site rules" you need to determine who is in charge of those rules. So the HSE guidance of the actual regulation you are alluding to https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l24.pdf states:

4 People other than employers also have duties under these Regulations if they have control, to any extent, of a workplace. For example, owners, landlords or managing agents of business premises should ensure that common parts, common facilities, common services and means of access within their control comply with the regulations. 5 Their duties are limited to matters which are within their control. For example, an owner who is responsible for the general condition of a lobby, staircase and landings, for shared toilets provided for tenants’ use, and for maintaining ventilation plant, should ensure that those parts and plant comply with these Regulations. However, the owner is not responsible under these Regulations for matters outside their control, for example a spillage caused by a tenant or shortcomings in the dayto-day cleaning of sanitary facilities where this is the tenants’ responsibility. Tenants should co-operate sufficiently with each other, and with the landlord, to ensure that the requirements of the Regulations are fully met.

Now personally I read this for "shared" accomodation as meaning you and the other tennants should agree YOUR controls with the landlord. The landlord must make available sufficient provision in accordance with the regulations (which you are not disputing - your issue is with withdrawal and restriction of available provision).

What is does NOT say is that the landlord dictates "Covid controls" to be enacted by tennants upon their premises. IF they want to go down that route ask for their Professional Indemnity Insurance as they are crossing the line and choosing to behave as an H&S consultant to your employees.

Unfortunately with Covid-19 the clip board clowns have seized powers based upon guidance not statute.

Roundtuit  
#7 Posted : 28 August 2020 21:23:03(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Be careful with HSE guidance versus regulatory text.

To determine "site rules" you need to determine who is in charge of those rules. So the HSE guidance of the actual regulation you are alluding to https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l24.pdf states:

4 People other than employers also have duties under these Regulations if they have control, to any extent, of a workplace. For example, owners, landlords or managing agents of business premises should ensure that common parts, common facilities, common services and means of access within their control comply with the regulations. 5 Their duties are limited to matters which are within their control. For example, an owner who is responsible for the general condition of a lobby, staircase and landings, for shared toilets provided for tenants’ use, and for maintaining ventilation plant, should ensure that those parts and plant comply with these Regulations. However, the owner is not responsible under these Regulations for matters outside their control, for example a spillage caused by a tenant or shortcomings in the dayto-day cleaning of sanitary facilities where this is the tenants’ responsibility. Tenants should co-operate sufficiently with each other, and with the landlord, to ensure that the requirements of the Regulations are fully met.

Now personally I read this for "shared" accomodation as meaning you and the other tennants should agree YOUR controls with the landlord. The landlord must make available sufficient provision in accordance with the regulations (which you are not disputing - your issue is with withdrawal and restriction of available provision).

What is does NOT say is that the landlord dictates "Covid controls" to be enacted by tennants upon their premises. IF they want to go down that route ask for their Professional Indemnity Insurance as they are crossing the line and choosing to behave as an H&S consultant to your employees.

Unfortunately with Covid-19 the clip board clowns have seized powers based upon guidance not statute.

peter gotch  
#8 Posted : 29 August 2020 11:51:28(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

Jennie

On the assumption that you are in the UK, your starting point is the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance, L24, supporting the Workplace (HSW) Regs 1992.

Tables 1 and 2 (noting that these have the quasi-legal status of an ACOP) set out minimum numbers of toilet facilities for men, women or both sexes (where unisex facilities in a separate lockable room). These are minima, not generous!

So your starting point is to count the number of men and the number of women employed on each floor and assess whether there is suitable provision when whatever Covid social distancing rules are implemented.

If there are insufficient facilities then L24 in effect tells you to reduce the number of users (either or both sexes) or to change the Covid rules (e.g. find a way round the "One in at a time" rule and/or open up toilets on other floors for use by more than one floor).

This is before you also consider any disability requirements which might dictate further facilities.

It really doesn't matter much who is in control of the facilities i.e. the employers who share them or the landlord. This is a simple numbers game.

As example, on each floor of the office where I worked there are communal facilities in the central stairwell - 4 cubicles and one urinal for men, and 4 cubicles for women - under the control of the landlord.

But in addition on each wing, we had two lockable toilet rooms one designated for men and one for women - one of these doubled up as a disabled person's loo.

Up to us to work out the overall maths compared with the Tables in L24 to decide whether we had complied on each floor or all the floors we occupied.

PS - or you could bring in more toilets - anyone for a Portaloo in the office?

Edited by user 29 August 2020 12:53:59(UTC)  | Reason: Post Script

toe  
#9 Posted : 01 September 2020 23:42:48(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
toe

I read these honourable responses with interest. When laws and ACOPS were made (e.g. in 1992), they did not take into consideration that in 2020 there would be a pandemic resulting in 840K worldwide deaths and rising.

This pandemic has resulted in the government putting the law on hold in some respects, for example, LOLER thorough inspections, expired statuary qualifications, and MOT tests to mention a few. Equally, in the interest of saving lives, we should not be quoting the law ‘verbatim’ in this instance, and a reasonable and sensible approach should be adopted.

To answer the OP, I think that communication and co-cooperation with the landlord to come to a solution balancing the risk of transmitting the infection by overloading the WC’s and limiting access. If social distancing cannot be achieved, then face coverings may be an option.

AcornsConsult  
#10 Posted : 02 September 2020 07:03:19(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AcornsConsult

Lateral thinking question.  Is there space to,put portaloos outside?

adriankennedy-jones  
#11 Posted : 03 September 2020 12:11:55(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
adriankennedy-jones

Working in H&S for a commercial landlord I can say that I have to agree with Toe.

However as a landlord, there is an element of damned if you do and damned if you don't, some of our customers have very opposing views on what measures should be taken in our common area washrooms (and the building as a whole!) and expect their interpretation of the guidance to be adhered to... the government guidance can be very vague and this is the result.

In washrooms we have not adopted the one in one out rule but we have regularly communicated with our customers about distancing, installed signage to support the message, instigated touchpoint cleaning with anti-viral products, and ramped fresh air supply and extract where possible. We have also made available common area toilets on all floors.

Hsquared14  
#12 Posted : 03 September 2020 13:24:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Hsquared14

I thought the rule was social distancing of 2m and if you couldn't manage that then you had social distancing of of 1m plus a mask.  Surely the way to solve this is to ask everyone to wear a face covering when using the toilet facilities that means you can have less than 2m distance?

Roundtuit  
#13 Posted : 03 September 2020 15:48:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

That is too logical a thought process Hsquared14.

You would eliminate all the visible drama of having turn over signs at the door indicating if the facility is in use or not (provided it was left in the correct orientation by the previous user and let's not forget this too is a frequent touch point just like the door handle) black and yellow hazard tape covering perfectly serviceable and usable facilites or perspex screens hurridly installed in an attempt to show that something is being done.

Then we must remember some are excused in the regulation from wearing face coverings.

Roundtuit  
#14 Posted : 03 September 2020 15:48:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

That is too logical a thought process Hsquared14.

You would eliminate all the visible drama of having turn over signs at the door indicating if the facility is in use or not (provided it was left in the correct orientation by the previous user and let's not forget this too is a frequent touch point just like the door handle) black and yellow hazard tape covering perfectly serviceable and usable facilites or perspex screens hurridly installed in an attempt to show that something is being done.

Then we must remember some are excused in the regulation from wearing face coverings.

jennielouises  
#15 Posted : 11 September 2020 12:58:42(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jennielouises

Thanks all. I think the problem lies in that I believe the guidance that the landlord is offering is perfectly fine as they aren't locking the toilets and saying we can't use them. They are advising to stick to 1 in, 1 out, wher epossible. If someone needed to vomit or had diarrhoea, then the toilet it is available to them. Surley the risk from getting Covid-19 (that can actually kill you) is greater than the risk of vomitting on the floor?

stevedm  
#16 Posted : 13 September 2020 07:57:56(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

....well it does depend on why you are vomiting...for instance it is a symptom for Ebola and one of the last things on the onset of a heart attack...

Your aim here is to prevent and protect...I don't know if you have vulnerable workers or those with health conditions that would make them vulnerable...

You need to work with the landlord based on the risk information you are aware of from your staff...

Hygiene is the key here...educate ...for instance it turns out that the infection can be absorbed into porcelin and is then aerosoled every time you flush so just by dropping the lid down (yes I know it is only guys that don't !) will reduce the effect...this was the same on the onward transmission of SARS previously...

If you are looking to use legislation to get anything done then you have already lost the argument...that said...cooperation if not achieved will be yours and thier downfall if there is an outbreak in your office block..

MrBrightside  
#17 Posted : 14 September 2020 08:11:35(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
MrBrightside

In the grand scheme of things, is this really that much of an issue? We have one in one out on all our toilets and if you need to go, you wait. As other have said we are in strange times and in these times the normal rules do not always apply.

chris42  
#18 Posted : 14 September 2020 08:28:58(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris42

That’s all very good providing you can wait. Some people can be in a lot of discomfort or pain if they have to wait too long.

I assume that the numbers of toilets as decided upon in regulations are there for a reason. As the virus is not going to go away are we going to say it is ok to ignore this legal requirement for ever. When the HSE come in to the workplace in a years’ time following a complaint, what happens do they enforce or not? Are they going to change the rules? Yes we can all manage for a while, but how long is a while. It also depends on where you are with employee numbers v number of toilets. If you are well within the limits ie if you had two employees less you could have less toilets anyway, then it probably will not matter. If you are tight on the requirements anyway, it may be more of a problem.

The question from the original poster really is taking about the new norm ongoing. Do they say well this building does not support the number of people we have to legally comply as so need to relocate? Does the landlord put in more or changed welfare facilities? Does the HSE get the law changed? But there will come a point for decision.

Chris

John Murray  
#19 Posted : 14 September 2020 14:09:57(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
John Murray

If they cannot get to a toilet, people will relieve themselves where they can.

And it isn't just the process[es] of excretion....I believe females have this thing called "menstrual cycles"....

Things could get messy, fast, in your workplace.

peter gotch  
#20 Posted : 14 September 2020 14:58:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

Chris, the idea that HSE might get the law changed to allow fewer welfare facilities is unlikely.

The magic numbers for male and female facilities have been around for decades.

So any change would have to pass the test set by Section 1(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

In the "new norm", there are likely to be less people in the building, which in turn means that fewer operational facilities could be OK.

thanks 1 user thanked peter gotch for this useful post.
chris42 on 14/09/2020(UTC)
biker1  
#21 Posted : 14 September 2020 15:38:47(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

I think the whole issue of toilets has been blown out of proportion, as if such places were hotbeds of COVID infection, for which I have seen no evidence. Sensible precautions should be used, not closing the facilities altogether (one out, one in seems sensible to me if the facilities are small). At our local surgery, the patient toilets have been closed, which seems ridiculous to me. If they can't maintain hygiene practices at a medical facility, then where? People attending such places may well need to use the toilet because of their medical problems, or even just to get a urine sample. There is a key access toilet, which could be used to control access, but as usual with GP practices these days, they have gone over the top with controls. Many toilets at resorts have been closed, and there is then an outcry over people toileting outside. What are they supposed to do? There was already a shortage of public loos, we have now turned a national scandal into a national emergency.

thanks 2 users thanked biker1 for this useful post.
Wailes900134 on 15/09/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 22/09/2020(UTC)
Bazzer  
#22 Posted : 21 September 2020 15:50:35(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Bazzer

One of my clients has adopted a sign on the door, engaged/empty, and they just turn over the sign. No issued have arisen

Bazzer  
#23 Posted : 21 September 2020 15:54:08(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Bazzer

Sorry meant Engaged/Vacant

Roundtuit  
#24 Posted : 21 September 2020 19:05:03(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

As per 13/14 a nice frequent "touch point" that must be included in cleaning regiemes

Roundtuit  
#25 Posted : 21 September 2020 19:05:03(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

As per 13/14 a nice frequent "touch point" that must be included in cleaning regiemes

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