Feminine Hygiene | Air Freshening | Hand Washing | Hand Drying | Paper Provisions | Water Controls | Disabled Access

The Environment Act 1990 places a 'duty of care' obligation on every business operator to ensure that waste is managed properly right up to the point of disposal

Sanitary Waste Disposal

(Reg 21 - Approved Code of Practice, Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992)

"in the case of water closets used by women, suitable means should be provided for the disposal of sanitary dressings"

This Regulation is reinforced by the Water Industries Act 1991, which states that ;
no items should be flushed that could cause a blockages in the sewers or drains.

The Disposal of Sanitary Waste should be carried out in such a way as to be discreet on the premises.
The storage of sanitary waste on site should be in proper disposal containers, sanitary bins
('Sani-bins' or 'FemiBins') FemiBin is a trademark of o3 solutions)
The Sanitary bins should contain an agent that will eliminate odours to stop them escaping. It should also be effective against bacteria including hepatitis B.
Waste disposal must only be carried out by registered waste carriers, registered with the Environment and Heritage Service in NI + GB.

Air Freshening / Air Purifying

(Reg 21 - Approved Code of Practice, Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992)

The regulations state that with respect to washrooms,

"means should be taken to prevent odours from lingering in and from entering into other rooms"

Regulation 25 states that

"rest rooms and rest areas shall include suitable arrangements to protect non-smokers from the discomfort caused by tobacco smoke"

This of course has been amended by the Smoking Ban where smoking is not permitted in any enclosed public area

Hand Washing

(Reg 21 - Approved Code of Practice, Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992)

Washing facilities
"... must include soap or other suitable means of cleaning"

It is preferable to have soap dispensers for dispensing liquid soap rather than bar soaps.
Bacteria can survive on the surface of soap bars which can be transfered from person to person.
Automatic soap dispensers which dispense soap automatically using an infra-red sensor without the need for the user to touch the dispenser are best suited for optimum hygiene situations to reduce cross-contamination
Water stored for hand washing should be stored above 60 degrees celcius to avoid contamination by legionella.
Water dispensed at faucets should be no more than 41 degrees celcius to avoid scalding

Hand Drying

(Reg 21 - Approved Code of Practice, Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992)

Washing facilities;
"must include towels or other suitable means of drying"

To provide an environmentally sound washroom, it is best practice to provide hand drying units.
If paper towels are to be provided, it is advised that they are made from recycled or sustainable sources
Hand Dryers that have a low power consumption are more environmentally friendly, and have lower running costs.
The faster the drying time, the lower the running cost, the less power used, and the more user friendly they are.

Paper Provisions

(Reg 21 - Approved Code of Practice, Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992)

In the case of water closets
"toilet paper in a holder or dispenser ... should be provided"

Adequate provisions, including spare rolls should be available. Dispensers that hold more than one roll can be used if washrooms are subject to high traffic.
Washrooms should be serviced on a regular basis to ensure all paper towels and toilet rolls are fully stocked.
A washroom hygiene monitor can be installed to show how often the washrooms are serviced.

Water Controls / Urinal Flush

(Water By-Law 1983)

Every pipe that supplies water to a flushing system or a trough used for flushing a urinal shall be fitted with
• either a flow shut-off device controlled by a time switch and a lockable shut-off valve,

• or some other equally effective automatic device or method for regulating the periods during which the cistern or trough may fill.

Important Information on Disabled / Adapted / Accessible Toilets

Location | Doors | WC Position | WC Flush | Sinks/Taps | Dispensers | Grab Rails | Back Pad | Alarm | Accessories | Lighting | Decor

Toilet Location

Disabled toilets should be provided, where possible, on the ground floor.
Where the accessible toilet is not placed immediately adjacent to the male and female toilets, a sign is needed to direct visitors to the accessible toilet.
They should be unisex toilets, and notincorporated into the ladies or gents main toilet area, so as to allow a member of the opposite sex to accompany for assitance.
BS 8300 recommends a minimum cubicle size of 2.2 m x 1.5 m.


Minimum opening – 925 mm. No door closer should be fitted.
The door must be capable of opening outwards. It can also open inwards if the cubicle is large enough, but it must be capable of opening outwards in an emergency. eg in case a disabled person falls over inside the cubicle against door.
There needs to be a horizontal closing rail on the inside of the door at a height of 680 mm. This will enable the disabled person to pull the door closed from the hinge side of the door, without having to “fetch” the lock side of the door.
There needs to be a lock that is convenient to operate and can be opened from the outside in case of emergency. The lock needs to be operated by a lever not by a rotating action.

WC Position

The centre of the WC should be 500 mm from the side wall on which the wash basin is fixed.
This ensures that the user can reach the grab rail.

WC Flush

The flushing lever on the WC cistern should be positioned on the opposite side to the wash basin (ie the same side as the wheelchair will be positioned).
This will enable the user to flush the toilet after transferring back to his or her wheelchair.
An automatic, sensor operated flush is a good option.
The fixings for the WC seat should be metal rather than plastic.
Plastic fittings are likely to break under the weight of the user.

WC Back Pad

Where the WC is forward of the cistern, a padded back pad needs to be provided. No back pad is needed if the WC and cistern are close coupled: the cistern will provide the necessary support.
The back pad allows the user to undress and dress while seated on the WC, by arching his or her back against the back pad.
There should be no lid on the WC seat. This will interfere with the use of the back pad.

Paper/Soap Dispensers

The toilet paper, wash basin, soap dispenser and towel/hand drier should be within easy reach of a user sitting on the toilet. The dispensers should be easy to use for those that are less mobile. Automatic dispensers are a good alternative to standard push button etc. Make sure they are well identified.


The wash basin should have a lever-operated (or sensor operated) mixer tap on the side closer to the WC.
The user will be seated on the WC when using the tap.

Grab Rails

A vertical rail is needed beside the WC, outside the hinged support rail, 600 mm long with the bottom end of the rail at a height of 800 mm.
A hinged (drop-down) support rail should be provided on the wheelchair side of the WC, at a height of 680 mm, and 320 mm from the centre line of the WC.
A horizontal (grab) rail is needed on the wall beside the WC at a height of 680 mm.
A vertical rail is needed either side of the wash basin, 600 mm long with the bottom end of each rail at a height of 800 mm.
All rails should be 35 mm in diameter, with a good grip when wet, and the fixed rails should have 60 mm clearance from the wall.
The rails should be fixed very securely to the wall. The rails each need to be able to support the weight of an adult man.


One mirror should be sited over the wash basin.
Where space allows, there should be a second mirror located away from the basin, at least 1000 mm tall with the bottom edge at a height of 500 mm.
The second mirror is for use by wheelchair users.
Two coat hooks should be provided, one at a height of 1050 mm (for the wheelchair user) and the other at conventional height.

Emergency alarm

An alarm cord should trigger an audible signal both inside and outside the cubicle, and also (where possible) at a reception area that is constantly staffed.
The signal needs to be audible inside the cubicle so that the disabled user knows that the alarm is sounding (whether accidentally or deliberately).
The alarm cord should be in a contrasting colour (conventionally red), positioned to hang between the WC and the basin, passing through the grab rail.
Two large pull handles (50 mm in diameter) should be attached to the cord, one at between 800 mm and 1000 mm above floor level and the other at 100 mm above floor level.
This will enable the user to summon help either from the WC itself or from the floor level.
There needs to be a reset switch for the alarm within the cubicle. This should be within reach of the user seated on the WC as well as in a wheelchair.
This will enable the user to switch off the alarm if it has been triggered in error.


Where lighting can be individually controlled in a cubicle, the light switch should be within reach of a user in a wheelchair. If automatic lighting it should be set to a sufficient time to allow the user to vacate the premises before turning off. This may be substantially longer than for a bathroom for use by able bodied persons.
The lighting level needs to be sufficient.


There should be a good level of contrast between the following areas:
• floor and walls
• door and walls
• rails and walls
• porcelain fittings and surroundings
This assists people with visual impairments.
The finishes should be matt. Shiny surfaces can be confusing for visually impaired people.

Floor surface

The floor surface should be slip-resistant and non-shiny.

Important Information for Business Owners on
Legislation covering Public Washrooms

Although we have taken great care to ensure the integrity of the information provided on this page, it may not be complete or may even be innacurate or may have changed before or since it was uploaded, we have added comments of our own to information taken from professional, government and trade information as well as other sources and it may not be wholly applicable in your situation, there may be other regulations covering your premises, products or services. Please seek advice from a professional when you are designing your kitchen or deciding on the the services and facilities you will require. Your local council authority will provide you with all the information you need. Supplementary information is available below.
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Washroom Legislation

Washroom Legislation
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