Drivers claim some firms still ban them from using their toilets

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Victory! Back in 2017, after campaigning from the Unite union and Truckers’ Toilets UK, the HSE ruled thatemployers in control of non-domestic premises (i.e. places of work) were required to allow all visitors to their premises, who were not employed by them, access to their toilets and washing facilities.

No more peeing in the bushes with nowhere to wash hands, no more problems for women drivers having a period. Transport sector customers had to acknowledge 21st century realities and realise that we all need to urinate on average six or seven times a day and need hygienic facilities to do so. And that’s before the additional hand-washing required to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Let’s just run through that again. Drivers making a delivery or collection to a site have a legal right to use the toilets and washing facilities available at that site – facilities that must include hot and cold running water and soap. That access cannot be refused, by law.

So why did the HSE, in conjunction with the Dept for Transport recently find it necessary to issue an open letter reminding those who control delivery and collection sites of their legal responsibilities? The truth is the problem has never gone away.

One of the issues for drivers is the difficulty of proof. It is usually the driver’s word against that of the site controller. Another is best illustrated by one haulier we contacted who said: “I can’t name the company as they are a customer of ours.” Many companies are not in a position to risk losing business at the moment.

Let’s not portray all drivers as saints: “I know that a small percentage of drivers misuse facilities made available to them and I see that here in the depot, but it’s unfair to label one and all as being like that,” said Robert Wilcox, MD of Somerset-based operator Massey Wilcox.

Since site operators know that there’s little chance of being penalised, the behaviour of a minority makes it too easy to simply say no to all drivers.

When motortransport.co.uk asked the HSE how many times it has taken action over refused access they couldn’t put a figure on it: “Reports or concerns are made to us in differing language and, quite often, these are wrapped up in other matters which also need our attention,” a spokesman said. “This makes identifying relevant cases challenging.”

But HSE has sent letters to offending companies. “Throughout this pandemic we have consistently condemned any refusal of access to toilet and hand washing facilities for visiting drivers,” he continued. “It is concerning that these reports persist.

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“Preventing access in this way is a breach of health and safety law, and equally is not the sensible thing to do.”

Commented Adrian Jones, national officer for road transport, warehousing and logistics at Unite: “Within our own industry it is very rare for a driver to be refused access to toilets while delivering or collecting.”

Jones added that the problem tends to rest with other sectors, particularly amongst smaller employers who don’t have the advice and guidance that an HR department in a larger company might provide.

“During this pandemic, people are understandably trying to do the right thing,” he said. “The government’s guidance said to limit the amount of visitors to your site and some people are thinking, ‘We can’t let anybody use our toilets’.”

Jones’s advice is to use the letter from the HSE and DfT, while Unite has produced a couple of publications: ‘Access to Facilities’, a driver’s guide and ‘The Happy Trucker’s Survival Guide’, which include information on this issue.

Cumbrian operator Tim Wigham has issued his drivers with electronic copies of the DfT/HSE letter and has had no problems. His long-standing customers tend to treat his drivers as their own employees. One customer has even installed portable toilets so that drivers don’t have to walk through the premises to the on-site toilets and they are kept clean.

Gordon Hunter, boss of Scottish operator Gordon Hunter Transport has not been so lucky. In fact it was Hunter himself who was told that he couldn’t use the facilities: “It was the forklift drivers passing the message on from their bosses, and I will say both forklift drivers were very embarrassed as I know them.”

He wasn’t given an explanation.

MT’s advice is to provide drivers with a copy of the DfT/HSE letter either electronically so they can carry it on their phones or printed out. It can be downloaded from the HSE website and there’s a link to it below.

Links: HSE/DfT open letter: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/887867/dft-hse-letter-drivers-facilities.pdf

The post Drivers claim some firms still ban them from using their toilets appeared first on Motor Transport.

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