WHAT DO ALL PUBLIC WASHROOMS NEED?
Public toilets should be a significant investment for any business or council. They are essential to public health and safety and provide us with the privacy and dignity to take care of our sanitation needs while out of the comforts of our own homes. It is essential, therefore, that when designing these washrooms, facilities managers take into consideration what is necessary for visitors to walk away with a positive experience.
What are your legal requirements?
Before tackling anything that relates to design or brand awareness, legal requirements are the most important thing that should be considered and met. For employers providing public washroom services in the UK, there is a whole list of requirements that need to be prioritised in order to be safe and usable for everyone, including people with disabilities.
- Separate facilities for men and women should be made available where possible. Where this is not possible, they should be designed for just one person at a time. Washrooms must have a lock that provides the user with privacy.
- If a public washroom contains more than four cubicles, it must be designed as suitable for people with disabilities. This means that the cubicle should be larger (minimum width of 1200mm) and have an outward opening door. A horizontal or vertical grab rail should also be included in the washroom design.
- Adequate waste disposal facilities must be provided, including general waste, sanitary waste disposal and nappy disposal in baby changing facilities.
- It is easily maintained and kept clean, including ventilation to prevent odours.
- They must be provided and stocked with necessary supplies and consumables such as soap and toilet paper and must have both cold and hot running water.
A comfortable washroom layout
It’s all very well and good to provide a public washroom that meets legal standards, but if it’s too cramped or impractical to use, this does not bode well for a happy customer experience. For example, consider where you want to build your washrooms if you have the freedom to choose a specific location. Splitting up male and female washrooms can make it confusing for customers to navigate, especially if they are travelling in large groups.
Another thing to keep in mind is how much privacy a washroom provides. In the USA, for example, washrooms are infamously designed with overly large gaps between the cubicle door which provides the user with little to no privacy should someone walk past the door. This can be extremely stressful for even the least timid bathroom users.
In men’s washrooms in particular, ‘shy bladder syndrome’ is nor uncommon where urinals are situated very close together with no privacy whatsoever. Anxiety in general when using the bathroom is not something that is talked about enough. People these days live with all sorts of bowl affecting conditions such as IBS, Crohn\’s, Ulcerative Colitis and more. Even though providing people with private cupicals is not possible for every situation, at least attempting to design washrooms in a way that provides maximum comfort and privacy is a vital part of the experience.
Sanitary bins are one of the legal requirements for employers and public spaces and for a good reason. They are essential in providing people who menstruate a stress-free work environment and ensuring that sanitary waste is disposed of as safely and hygienically as possible. Before sanitary bins were the norm in public spaces, workers often brought sandwich bags to the workplace in order to hide their products and dispose of them later at home. Alternatively, some would band together and compensate for the cost of a private sanitary bin themselves for the staff members who needed it.
Thankfully, times have changed and we understand the value that sanitary bins have to people in the workplace. Period poverty often talks about the issues surrounding access to sanitary products, and while that is also true, access to adequate waste disposal is also necessary. Students and employees are far less inclined to come to school or work if they know that there is no way for them to cleanly dispose of their waste when on their period.
Outsourcing this service to a good sanitary waste provider who is reliable and flexible in dealing with your sanitary waste needs will ensure that your customers are kept happy and secure and that your legal responsibilities are met.
Clean and useful washroom facilities
Sanitary bins, while important, are not the only facility that needs to be a priority to ensure good hygiene in public washrooms. If you have the budget to do so, facilities such as touch-free sinks and soap dispensers are often appreciated by the general public, especially during the pandemic when everyone is far more aware of their hand hygiene than before. They also make for a much more efficient experience for families using the bathroom together and managing several children, or even people passing through and carrying lots of luggage. The more hands-free the experience, the better.
As nice as these facilities are, however, it is far more important that basic hygiene standards are met. Touch free dispensers are all very well and good, but what’s the point if there is no soap topped up in them? Products not being stocked up is one of the most common failures of many public washrooms, especially busy ones. No one wants to be the person caught in a toilet with no paper and having to warn the queue of people outside hoping to use it afterwards.
A washroom does not have to be all singing and all dancing to be well-designed and fulfil the basic needs of the people who are going to use it. The washroom experience is something that will mostly go unnoticed when it’s done right, but ruin someone’s day when done poorly. More often than not, the things that make up a successful public washroom design are all very simple and involve good hygiene and working facilities.
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