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Unflushable toilet lands firm and director with thousands in fines

A construction company and its director have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after they failed to provide suitable toilet facilities on site.

East Sussex firm ID8 Design and Build had been warned by the HSE in 2021 after an inspection found an unflushable toilet without door or window coverings.

The facilities had no sink, no hot water, soap or towels, and workers had no rest area.

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HSE issued an Improvement Notice, which was found to be ignored on a follow-up inspection. The company and its director Adeel Bhatti have now been ordered to pay fines and costs of more than £3,000 and £2,000 respectively.

HSE inspector Emma Bitz said that many smaller sites fail to even have basic facilities for their staff.

She said: “Providing suitable and sufficient toilets is an absolute duty and there is no exception to them being provided or made available.

“Inspectors will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against employers who fail to comply with an Improvement Notice. Welfare is a fundamental and basic necessity for workers. It is also required by law.”

HR departments that do not regularly work alongside frontline employees should proactively set aside time and resources to meet their teams and make sure their needs are met said Paul Holcroft, managing director of HR services firm Croner.

Speaking to HR magazine, Holcroft said: “Conducting stay interviews can be an effective way of checking in with staff members, discussing any issues or concerns they may have and giving you the opportunity to pick up on situations where working standards may not be up to scratch. 

Implementing changes on the back of these meetings is key to ensuring a successful ongoing working relationship. Those who do so will benefit from a workforce that feels recognised and valued, and so is more engaged, productive and loyal.”

Paul Nowak, general secretary of the Trade Unions Congress said it was despicable to hear of workers being denied the basic dignity and legal right of access to a proper toilet.

He told HR magazine: “This fine from the regulator should be a warning to any employer expecting workers to use unsanitary, unhygienic facilities, or none at all.

"Employers have a legal duty to make sure all workers have access to clean facilities."