Gaining access to toilet facilities can pose a daily challenge for HGV drivers, both on the road and when delivering to depots around the country.
After a long-running campaign, spearheaded by Gillian Kemp at Truckers Toilets (UK) and the Unite union, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced last November that it was clarifying the regulations to make clear that duty-holders must provide facilities for visiting drivers.
At the same time it launched a campaign to raise employer awareness of this duty.
Yet HGV drivers are still reporting difficulties in gaining access to toilet facilities on certain sites. As CM’s own coverage has shown, the problem remains widespread, with offenders ranging from blue-chip high street retail giants, international IT companies and major logistics businesses through to family-owned haulage firms.
Driver complaints include being refused access to any lavatory facilities, being told toilets are out of order or out of bounds to drivers, and being told to use toilets at nearby petrol stations, or even at local pubs.
Other drivers report access being granted begrudgingly, being made to sign for a key to the facilities or being met, once in the toilet facilities, with demeaning notices directed specifically at drivers, which lecture them on how to keep the facilities clean.
Clearly some duty-holders are just not getting the message. So what can drivers do, if they are denied access to toilet facilities?
One way drivers can fight back is to know their rights. The HSE told CM: “When a visiting delivery driver visits non-domestic premises as part of their work, the duty holder/employer at that workplace must –and not should, as it states in ACOP L124 – provide access to welfare facilities.”
An HSE spokesman added: “There is a legal requirement to provide visiting delivery drivers with access to toilets and washing facilities under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.”
Drivers who are denied this right should complain to the HSE, the spokesman said, adding that it “has a legal right to make enquiries about all allegations or complaints made to it” .
Unite is another source of support for drivers. Its campaign has organised pickets such as one at the Port of Liverpool last year, to protest about the lack of driver toilet facilities at the Seaforth container terminal.
Unite’s national officer Adrian Jones urges drivers to report any incidents to the union. “If employers continue to refuse our members access to toilets we will pursue them through all avenues open to us, and that will include naming and shaming companies that deny drivers the right to spend a penny,” he warns.
Michelle Barkley, the architectural representative on the DfT’s working group addressing this issue, advises truck drivers to carry a copy of the HSE clarification.
Lack of awareness
“There really is a low level of awareness among businesses,” she says, “so if a driver can show that announcement, their complaint will carry much more weight”.
She also recommends that drivers complaining to the HSE about being denied access to toilets should refer to the HSE’s recent clarification, since “not everyone at the HSE is necessarily aware of the regulations on this”.
Failure to provide toilet facilities for visiting drivers can create health hazards. Drivers who cannot access toilets are often forced to use the roadside or lay-bys, creating a health hazard for other travellers – not to mention the health hazard posed to consumers, if the drivers are delivering food and drinks.
Drivers denied access to toilet facilities are also in danger of developing a myriad of health problems including stomach pains, cramps, poor concentration, urinary tract infections, stretching of the bladder wall, kidney stones, chronic constipation and, in extreme cases, life-threatening conditions, such as impacted bowels.
Nor does this problem help to tackle the current HGV driver shortage. Kemp says this is particularly true of women drivers, who have additional requirements.
Kemp started her campaign after overhearing two female delivery drivers complaining about the lack of toilet facilities.
“There isn’t a shortage of drivers per se,” she argues, “it is just that because these working conditions are so appalling, especially for women drivers, drivers are not being attracted into the industry”.
Drivers caught using lay-bys or the roadside as toilets are subject to hefty fines, but Kemp argues that this is unfair, when they are being denied appropriate facilities, either at the depots they deliver to or because of the lack of truckstops in the UK.
She argues: “Drivers have been forced to use lay-bys and they are being damned as a consequence. Surely in the 21st century we should respect our drivers enough to provide clean, well-maintained toilets and care enough to offer them the privacy, safety and dignity they deserve?”
You can report blocked access at sites to the HSE at Reporting a workplace health and safety problem.
- Bonded warehouses must provide visiting drivers with toilet access, says HSE
- DB Schenker to improve toilet access for visiting drivers at Tamworth site after HSE action
- Dnata and Swissport criticised over toilet provision for HGV drivers delivering to Heathrow
- HSE says no minimum time limit for driver toilet access after shipping company Scotline claimed there was
- Thew Arnott reminded of obligations by HSE after refusing to grant visiting driver access to a toilet
- Retailer Boots accused of not providing adequate toilet access to visiting driver
- John Lewis Partnership, Magna Specialist Confectioners and Synergy Health Sterilisation accused of not providing professional drivers with toilet access
- Workplace health, safety and welfare. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Approved Code of Practice and guidance
- Peel Ports does U-turn on female driver facilities