Facilities at work

Legally, you need to make sure your workplace facilities are safe and comfortable for everyone.

When you design your workplace you need to think about the conditions of your workplace. This includes:

  • entry and exit
  • work areas
  • floors and other surfaces
  • lighting and ventilation
  • extreme temperatures
  • essential services
  • personal facilities
  • outdoor and isolated work
  • emergency plans.

Find more details by expanding on the topics below.

Entry and exit

Entries and exits must be clearly lit, slip-resistant, signposted and clearly marked.

Separate entries and exits are required for mobile equipment, such as forklifts and trucks.

Aisles and walkways must be at least 600 mm wide, free of furniture and other obstacles, and clearly marked with yellow lines.

Staircases should be guarded with upper and lower rails, and have a handrail on one side.

Power-operated doors and gates need to have safety features to prevent people being struck or trapped. They also need to be signposted and to warn of potential hazards.

Work areas

A tidy workplace reduces the risk of injury from slips and trips.

Work areas should have enough space to allow someone to move about freely without strain or injury, and evacuate quickly in case of emergency.

Where noise, heat and manual tasks are involved, a larger work area may be needed.

Wherever you can, separate moving plant and workers, to avoid injuries from moving or falling objects.

Floors and other surfaces

Floors need to be slip resistant and free of any hazards, such as cables and loose tiles, which can cause slips or trips.

Carpet is preferred in office areas. Similar flooring should also be used for those doing static standing work.

The choice of floor surface will depend on the type of work you do, for example, concrete rather than carpet should be used for welding work.

Lighting and ventilation

There must be sufficient light to enable your workers to perform tasks without straining their eyes or adopting awkward postures. Additional lighting should be used at places of particular risk, such as pedestrian crossings, and for particular types of work, such as inspection tasks.

Workplaces inside buildings need to be properly ventilated with windows and doors, fans or air-conditioning.

Extreme temperatures

The most comfortable temperature for sedentary work, such as office work, is between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius.

Heat strain occurs when working in high temperatures, such as those found in foundries, laundries and commercial kitchens.

Hypothermia occurs when working in extremely cold temperatures, such as those found in cool rooms.

Essential services

Consider the risk of harm from work taking place near gas, electricity, water, sewerage and telecommunications services.

Personal facilities

You must provide clean, safe and accessible toilets, drinking water, washing and eating facilities, and secure storage for personal items.

Outdoor and isolated work

Outdoor workers must have access to shelter for eating meals and taking breaks, and to protect themselves in adverse weather conditions. They also need to be given personal protective equipment (PPE) for protection against the sun.

Working alone or remotely increases the risk of any job. This is partly because of poor access to emergency services as well as the increased potential of exposure to violence. You need to consider installing physical barriers or CCTVs, and providing appropriate communication systems.

Accommodation may also need to be provided to those working in regional and remote areas. It needs to be of a fair standard.

Emergency plans

You must prepare an emergency plan, which considers the type of work you do, the size of your workplace and workforce, and the hazards in your workplace.

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