The Health and Safety dangers of poor washroom design
Health and safety is one of the most important factors to consider when designing your office washroom.
While a regular clean is an obvious essential for any washroom, organisations also have a corporate responsibility to ensure that their overall facilities are fit for purpose and designed for safe usage.
From a legal perspective, there are lots of things to consider - from structural vanity calculations to considering escape route obstructions.
Sounds overwhelming? No need to worry. We’re here to tell you everything you need to consider when designing the perfect office washroom…
Fire Strategy Compliance
Have you ever thought what might happen if a fire occurred when you were in the WCs?
The most critical starting point is to ensure that anyone who is in there can be made aware of the emergency, which is done through the use of fire alarms and ceiling beacons, for the audially impaired.
Whilst the sound system is relatively simple to sort, the prevalence of full-height cubicles mean that beacons create a tricky problem.
The common solutions are to either have beacons in each cubicle as well as the external lobby space, or have just one in the lobby space with a large enough door overcut for anyone inside the cubicle to see the beacon when it flashes.
Just remember to ensure the door swing or IPS panel swing does not clash with the ceiling beacon!
Emergency Release Mechanisms
The responsibility to understand and cater for emergency situations is undoubtedly the absolute pinnacle of health and safety for any organisation. It your legal responsibility to ensure that employees in your charge leave the workplace as sound and healthy as when they entered. Therefore, the office washroom must also be equipped with the appropriate safety measures.
Well known legal regulations are firmly in place to keep office buildings a safe space for all. Fire prevention safety is often common knowledge for all building users and is usually well sign-posted throughout office buildings. However, concepts such as ‘easy access in light of an emergency’, are usually lesser defined, and often under-utilised.
Approved Document M 5.4 (e) of the Building Regulations defines the necessity of emergency-release mechanisms that enable doors in all changing compartments, shower and toilet cubicles to be “opened outwards, from the outside, in case of emergency”.
While standard cubicle locks enable the lock to be released from outside , the doors can only then be opened inwards, not ideal if someone in need of medical assistance is blocking inward door movement.
This is why the Building Regulations state that the cubicle doors must be capable of opening outwards in the event of an emergency.
Alternative strategies such as lift off doors and breaking down the doors dangerous and unfeasible. To lift off a cubicle doors, someone would to go and find a set of panel suckers and left a 60kg door with-out dropping it on themselves or the person inside.
Breaking the door down is extremely hazardous and will render the cubicle unusable for at least 4 weeks. With sobering statistics informing us that ‘an individual will have a heart attack every 5 minutes’, it is essential that safety measures that genuinely work are factored into the overall design of a washroom. Those extra few seconds could save a life.
Our Movana System is the first design-led washroom cubicle with safety at the forefront of its offering. As a full-height cubicle system whose inward opening doors can opens outwards in the event of an emergency, organisations can rest assured that they are fulfilling their corporate obligation whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of their employees.
With an astounding 8-second outward access, any ‘panicked’ heavy lifting in an emergency situation can be entirely avoided. With no need to break down the cubicle door, you won’t need to cover the cost of impact damage or replace any damaged doors.
Movana prioritises user safety, without sacrificing aesthetics.
Alongside Movana’s potentially life-saving functionality, it also offers a stunning full fronted finish in a sleek, beautiful design. With no compromise on design, Movana is a testament to functionality-meets-beauty; a hard-reached desire for any organisation that seeks to fulfil all criteria within its brand identity.
There are a host of large fixtures and fittings within premium washrooms, many of which could cause serious damage or even death, if there were not sufficiently well fixed. The most obvious item is the vanity unit.
It is essential that the supporting brackets are not only able to take the overall material weight, but also the weight should anyone sit or stand on the unit. (It happens). These brackets may well need fixing down to the slab and maybe concealed with stud walls for aesthetics.
Mirror units can also be heavy, so the wall structure they are fixed to must be built to take this. Moreover, no-one would relish 50kg of cubicle doors collapsing on top of them, which is why it is so essential for cubicle pilaster and divisions panels to be securely fixed at the head, into concealed pattresses.
Whilst it is always delightful to have sharp and crisp edge details, care has to be taken than these are not so sharp that they will produce cuts if brushed against or knocks.
This applies in many scenarios: mitred down stands should always have a light radius or chamfer, as should any glass edges or corners of hardwood lipping.
It is never too late to address the compliance status of your commercial washroom, particularly when the responsibility of your employees falls under your remit.
With our vast knowledge of bespoke washroom fit-outs and design, we can advise on the essential health and safety aspects required by any thriving business.
If you’d like to discuss your existing washroom and learn more about our cutting-edge products, please get in touch with one of our friendly experts at Maxwood Washrooms.