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Workplace (Health Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992



The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (WHSWR) came into force on 1st January 1993 and gave effect in Great Britain to the requirement of EC Directive 89/654/EEC concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the workplace. The Regulations do not apply to construction work sites, but they do apply to facilities, design and equipment in buildings used as workplaces and modifications and extensions of such buildings.

Specific requirements for the health, safety and welfare on construction sites are included within the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

A full copy of the Regulations can be printed and/or downloaded from:

Note that Regulation 13(1) to (4) was revoked by the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

Summary of the Content

The regulations apply to all places of work, unless other legislation takes precedent, such as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM). The WHSWR are required to be taken account of by designers of workplaces under CDM.

Regulation 5 Maintenance of workplace, and equipment, devices and systems

The employer and/or the person in control of premises must maintain the workplace and contents so that they remain safe and without risk to health and fully comply with the detailed requirements of the regulations. Certain items will require a formal system of maintenance, such as emergency lighting, fencing, fixed equipment used for window cleaning, anchorage points for safety harnesses, window opening limiting devices, powered doors, escalators, moving walkways, etc.

Regulation 6 Ventilation

Ventilation is required to be supplied to a workplace in the form of purified or fresh air. The extent of the ventilation required will be determined by the work being performed and the equipment/plant installed. By whatever means the appropriate ventilation is provided it must provide a comfortable, breathable atmosphere without causing uncomfortable draughts. In most instances opening windows would be sufficient.

Regulation 7 Temperature of indoor workplaces

Indoor workplaces must be maintained at a 'comfortable' temperature that achieves a minimum temperature of 16oC for normal work, but may be 13oC minimum where severe physical effort is part of the work. Dry balls thermometers must be placed at convenient positions throughout the workplace so that workers may verify the temperature within the workplace.

Regulation 8 Lighting

The lighting levels within the workplace shall be maintained so that they do not cause risk to health or safety due to inadequate levels or the production of glare. Whenever possible the required lighting should be by natural light. Particular care should be taken when deciding on the location of display screen equipment (computers) in relation to the artificial lighting provided and natural light employed (windows) so that glare and reflection on the screen do not cause eyestrain (and stress!).

Regulation 9 Cleanliness and waste materials

The workplace should be maintained in a clean condition with waste materials only stored in designated, suitable receptacles. A cleaning regime should be established to ensure the cleanliness of the workplace and this should be appropriate to the activities being undertaken.

Regulation 10 Room dimensions and space

Workrooms must provide sufficient space for people to move about the room with ease. The specified minimum space per person to be allowed is:-

  • 11 cubic metres when empty of furniture, etc.
  • based on the actual room height or 3 metres if the room height is greater than 3 metres

This does not take account of the furniture, etc. installed in the workroom and may mean that greater volume is required.

Regulation 11 Workstations and seating

All workstations are required to be designed so that they are suitable for the work and the persons working there. It must allow free access/egress, particularly in the event of an emergency, and must allow for any assistance required, such as for disabled persons. A suitable seat must be provided if a person can perform the work in a seated position and, where necessary, footrests should be provided.

Regulation 12 Condition of floors and traffic routes

Floors and traffic routes should be of adequate strength and the right type of surface whether for pedestrian or vehicular traffic. Floor loading should take account not only of the use of the building but how it will be maintained (e.g. the floor of an atrium strong enough to sustain a window cleaning tower or spider). Traffic routes should be designed free of unnecessary obstructions and floors should have effective drainage where they are liable to get wet. If there is likely to be spillage of dangerous liquids or pollutants, drainage should be arranged so as not to contaminate drains, watercourses or sewers.

Regulation 13 Falls or falling objects

This regulation has been revoked by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which came into force on 6th April 2005.

Regulation 14 Windows and transparent or translucent doors, gates and walls

Transparent or translucent surfaces in doors, gates, walls and partitions should either be of safety material or be adequately protected against breakage. This applies where the transparent or translucent surfaces are at shoulder level or below in the case of doors and gates and any side panels to them. It applies at waist level or below in the case of windows, walls and partitions except in glasshouses. Similar requirements are already expressed in Building Regulations and there is a British Standard (BS 6206:1995) for safety glass and safety plastic and a BS Code of Practice (BS 6262:1995) for glazing in buildings.

Regulation 15 Windows, skylights and ventilation

Windows, skylights and ventilators must not, when open, project into pedestrian areas and should be so designed that people will not be at risk in gaining access to open them. The bottom edge of opening windows should be at least 800mm above floor level and when they are beyond normal reach there should either be special access arrangements to prevent falling or special devices to operate them remotely.

Regulation 16 Ability to clean windows etc. safely

Windows and skylights must be designed and constructed so that they can be cleaned safely, if necessary by taking account of equipment or devices used in conjunction with the window or skylight. If the inherent window design and position will not permit the windows to be cleaned safely then devices such as suspended cradles, travelling ladders, mobile towers or hydraulic platforms may be used. Towers and platforms will need firm, level surfaces on which to stand although some adjustment is nearly always available in the equipment. However anchors should be fitted where necessary on buildings and on suspended cradles and the platforms of towers and hydraulic access equipment. Ladders may be suitable provided they are not more than 9 metres long and that ladder fixings are available if they are more than 6 metres long. The whole question of designing buildings so that windows can be cleaned safely has been seriously neglected. Some of the worst situations have been created by the huge glass atria which are a common feature of 1980's and 1990's buildings. Safe access has tended to be an after thought and an easy victim of cost cutting. BS 8213: Part 1: 1991 covers safety in use and during cleaning of windows, doors and roof-lights.

Regulation 17 Organisation etc. of traffic routes

Traffic routes in a workplace must be suitable and so organised that pedestrians and vehicles can move about safely. In particular there must be sufficient separation between vehicles and pedestrians where both use the same route. Also where pedestrian doors or routes open onto traffic routes there must be sufficient separation between them.

The suitability of traffic routes in terms of number, position, size and the persons and vehicles using them must be addressed. It is recognised that it may not be practicable to widen existing traffic routes but if this is the case passing places or traffic management systems should be arranged. The code of practice and guidance for this particular regulation is detailed and an important consideration in the design of all workplaces, particularly those which are factories.

Regulation 18 Doors and gates

Doors and gates must be suitably constructed for their purpose. In particular special provision must be made to prevent sliding doors coming off their tracks and upward opening doors from falling back. Powered doors and gates must have safety features to prevent people being injured as a result of being struck or trapped. These may include pressure sensitive edges, devices to limit the closing force and operating controls which must be held in position during the closing motion (the operator must have a clear view of the entire movement).

Regulation 19 Escalators and moving walkways

Escalators and moving walkways must function safely, be equipped with necessary safety devices and be fitted with one or more emergency stop controls which are easily identifiable and readily accessible. The standard for construction and installation of this equipment is BS 5656: 1998.

Regulation 20 Sanitary conveniences

Sanitary conveniences shall be supplied that are suitable and sufficient, in that:-

  • they are adequately ventilated and lit
  • they are kept clean and tidy at all times
  • separate facilities should be provided for men and women, unless each convenience is situated in a separate room which may be locked from the inside

The Approved Code of Practice specifies the minimum sanitary conveniences required, for each group of workers (e.g. men, women, office workers, manual workers, etc.) as follows:

Number of Persons at WorkNumber of Water Closets
1 - 51
6 - 252
26 - 503
51 - 754
76 - 1005

Above 100 persons an additional water closet should be supplied for each additional 25 persons or part thereof.

Sanitary conveniences supplied for use by men only may use the alternative table below:

Number of Persons at WorkNumber of Water ClosetsNumber of urinals
1 - 1511
16 - 3021
31 - 4522
46 - 6032
61 - 7533
76 - 9043
91 - 10044

Above 100 men using the sanitary conveniences should have the number of water closets and urinals increased by one of each for every additional 50 men, or part thereof.

Certain privacy considerations should also be undertaken, as specified in the Approved Code of Practice.

Regulation 21 Washing Facilities

Washing facilities, including showers if required by the type of work or for health reasons, should be supplied adjacent to all sanitary conveniences and any required changing rooms. They should have supplied to them clean hot and cold, or warm, water which should be running so far as is practicable.

The minimum number of wash stations to be provided are as below:

Number of People at WorkNumber of Wash Stations
1 - 51
6 - 252
26 - 503
51 - 754
76 - 1005

An additional wash station shall be provided for every additional 25 persons at work, or fraction of.

Certain privacy considerations should also be undertaken, as specified in the Approved Code of Practice.

Regulation 22 Drinking Water

Wholesome drinking water must be supplied to readily accessible locations within the workplace. If the supply is not by a jet system suitable cups or beakers should be provided.

Regulation 23 Accommodation of Clothing

Accommodation for outdoor clothing (e.g. coats) must be provided in addition to storage of personal and work clothing where special work clothing is required. This may include facilities for the drying of work clothing.

Regulation 24 Facilities for Changing Clothing

Where special work clothing is required, and for reasons of propriety it is not possible to change elsewhere, separate changing facilities should be provided for men and women, unless the facility is for one person only with a door that can be locked from the inside.

Regulation 25 Facilities for Rest and to Eat Meals

Suitable facilities should be provided for workers to rest away from any contaminants or other hazards. These facilities should include appropriate seating. Areas to eat meals in a clean environment shall also be provided. All rest and eating areas shall be so arranged that non-smokers are not subjected by tobacco smoke from the smokers in the workforce. Office workers may use their workstations as rest and eating facilities, if they will not be disturbed by others.

A thorough knowledge of the 'Workplace' regulations is important for anyone involved in designing workplaces or workplace modifications as well as for those who manage, use and maintain workplaces. The HSE booklet L24 'Workplace, Health, Safety and Welfare' referred to earlier which contains the Approved Code of Practice and reference to standard setting documents is essential reading.

HSE AcoPs and Guidance

All HSE documents are available to purchase or to freely download from the links below: