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NAWIC pushes for safe and accessible toilets on construction sites

NAWIC pushes for safe and accessible toilets on construction sites

The National Association of Women in Construction has launched a new campaign in an effort to ensure safe and accessible toilets are available on all construction sites in Australia.

By the National Association of Women in Construction.

Did you know it’s your right to have accessible and safe toilets at your workplace? (Image: The National Association of Women in Construction)
Image: The National Association of Women in Construction.

Brittany* works in the Northern Territory in a trade. While she now works in Darwin, during her four-year apprenticeship, she was required to travel throughout the Territory to remote sites to gain the different skills and experience needed for her job. A common experience for Brittany was that the only women’s toilet would be in the administration building, far away from where she was working. When she tried to use the ‘unisex’ toilets onsite, closer to her work area, the men would tell her she couldn’t use those and that she needed to go to the administration building. One day, while learning a new part of the job and covered in dirt and grime, she was told to wash off and go to the administration building toilet, still not allowed to use the unisex toilet. Brittany also worked on a remote worksite where the women’s toilets didn’t have a sanitary bin, a significant issue if you have your period in the middle of nowhere. For Brittany, the answer to the question of what needs to be done is pretty simple – the bare minimum is equality for everyone and having the same access to facilities that men do.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has just launched its latest campaign: ‘Better’ just to hold it? For too long, both women and men in construction have been required to travel to, share or use unsafe toilets, or have had no access to toilets at all. In Australia, every state and territory mandate that employers must provide ‘appropriate’ facilities. But what does this mean?

While the government hasn’t designated what constitutes an appropriate toilet – they have stated that toilets should be:

  • Fitted with a hinged seat and lid;
  • Provided with adequate lighting and ventilation;
  • Clearly signposted;
  • Fitted with a hinged door capable of locking from each side of the cubicle;
  • Positioned to ensure privacy for users;
  • Separate from any other room by an airlock, a sound-proof wall and a separate entrance that is clearly marked; and
  • Supplied with an adequate supply of toilet paper, handwashing facilities, rubbish bins, and for female workers – hygienic disposal of sanitary items.

If you are in a mobile workplace, it is the responsibility of your employer to locate and provide access to a toilet, allowing additional time for travel in addition to your regular breaks. For remote construction workers, employers need to provide portable toilets, in a secure place with safe access. Do your toilets meet these standards? Not being able to access safe toilets at work is a workplace safety risk. It’s your right to have accessible and safe toilets at your workplace – we need to take action to enforce minimum standards.

You can find out more about our #dobinadunny campaign on our website.

NAWIC is a not-for-profit organisation led by a team of employees and volunteers who all strive to champion and empower women to reach their full potential. Our mission is to drive changes that will aid in the increased recruitment, retention and further vocational development of women in the construction industry. You can join the conversation on our socials @nawicau, and keep up with our advocacy, events and opportunities at www.nawic.com.au

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