OHS Facts on Toilet Amenities

Occupational Health and Safety is such a wide ranging subject that we are never surprised at the questions we receive here at Safety Concepts. Lately we have been getting lots of OHS questions about staff amenities and the rights or wrongs of this very sensitive subject.

So here is the essential list of things you need to know about toilets in the workplace.

  • The facts are that for all round good health it is crucial that employees have ready access to toilet facilities. Where toilets are not readily available staff can suffer health problems due to lower fluids intake or excessive retention.
  • All toilets should preferably be connected to a sewer. If that is not practical the toilet should be an open-closet style or self contained flushing unit.
  • Toilets should have a hinged seat and lid and a door that locks or is fastened from the inside.
  • The toilet should be regularly cleaned and maintained to ensure good hygiene.
  • Female workers should have available an appropriate system for the safe disposal of sanitary items.
  • Seperate toilets should be provided for male and female employees by the employer rather than relying on external public toilets.
  • However where the business is very small with say less than 10 employees a  unisex facility consisting of one toilet, one washbasin and sanitory disposal may be provided, as long as privacy can be assured.
  • In multistorey buildings toilets should be installed on at least every second floor.
  • Short term workplaces like construction sites require temporary toilets. The temporary toilets must be secured, well lighted, private and ventilated.
  • Employees working away from from base need reasonable access to toilets. In these cases the amenity may be in the form of a public toilet as long as the employer ensures that the employee will have access available during normal working hours.
  • The number of toilets required depends on how many people (staff and visitors) will use the facilities and also on the type of building.  In most workplaces there must be one closet pan toilet for every 20 males and one urinal for every 25 males. For females there must be one closet pan toilet for every 15 people.  In busy shopping centres or places that receive large numbers of visitors employers should provide seperate staff amenities. The Building Code of Australia provides the standard guidelines for the number of toilets required.

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Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (19)

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  1. Hayley says:

    Is there any requirement for the toilet to be a minimum distance from where food is prepared /consumed?

  2. joe public says:

    Hi, I work in a drive through liquor store. The pub attached has a toilet available but it takes over 15 minutes to close the store down to use this facility and my management has said to ring the pub to get someone over to watch the store while I go toilet. the pub staff have recently been told not to come over as they are not covered by health and safety. what are my options? are they allowed to have a workplace without toilet facilities because this is very common in this area. girls also work in this environment without access to a toilet. it is common for people to work over 8 hours without anyone to cover the workplace to take a toilet break.
    please help, there is no way to contact my work without my identity known, and last time i questioned a procedure i nearly lost my job


  3. Beth says:

    Hi there, Can anyone tell me if it is compulsary for there to be one toilet for staff and one toilet for clients.

  4. Lisa says:

    Is there a certain ammount of toilet facilities per person in one office building?
    eg: Our office has approximately 60-65 woman & only 3 toilets

  5. Karen says:

    Is there a mimimum distance listed between a toilet and a desk? My desk is 4 steps away from a toilet – that echos.
    Not nice!

  6. Jamii-Leigh says:

    Hi! In a workplace with 15+ employees (one female) plus contractors that come and gotheough the day, there is one toilet and no sanitary disposal provision – the next facilities on site are a couple of minutes drive away. The employer has recently said no to another toilet. Are they required by law to provide another loo for this many people?

  7. admin says:

    Hi Jamii-Leigh

    Thanks for your comment – sounds like a tricky predicament! I have attached a link to a factsheet based on the QLD Legislation that will be useful for you to reference the requirements and to arm yourself with the necessary information and facts for your employer!

    Good luck!

  8. admin says:

    Hi Karen

    Geez, you’re not in a very good spot are you? I had a look through the QLD Regulations and I found this…

    Work areas and air space – Schedule 16, Part 1, Division 5
    Adequate work areas and air space must be made reasonably available to allow suitable standards of
    health and safety for the worker. A workplace must have a minimum unencumbered floor area of
    2.3 m² for each worker. Unencumbered means clear circulation space with no fixtures or fittings
    intruding within the space.

    Here is the link where the information came from (the top of page 6):

    I hope this helps!


  9. admin says:

    Hi Lisa

    Thanks for your inquiry – yes, there are provisions for the amount of loo’s in the workplace… I have attached a very useful factsheet based on the QLD Legislation that I am sure you will find very useful!

    Thanks again,


  10. admin says:

    Hi Beth

    Thanks for your comment – I had a squiz around the rules and requirements and it doesn’t specify between staff and clients (not in QLD anyway). But, I have attached a link to the factsheet that spells out all the requirements so, I hope this helps.



  11. admin says:

    Hi Joe

    Geez, doesn’t sound like you have a very supportive employer. I guess looking at the legislation as long as your employer provides a toilet (the number of loo’s would depend on the number of employees) they are not in breach. However, by making it difficult or impossible to use that toilet could possibly be a different story. The only think I could suggest if you are hesitant in approaching your employer about the issue is to contact your regulatory body ie Workplace Health and Safety/WorkSafe etc and have a chat to them. They have Inspectors available who can come out the workplace and have a chat to your employer and advise them of what their obligations are!

    Here is a handy fact sheet for you to have a look at:

    Good luck,


  12. Sheri says:

    How far away does a port a potty have to be away from the city drain ?

  13. jennell glover says:

    Do supermarkets in qld have to provide toilets?

  14. Editor says:

    In all Australian states it is the responsibility of the shopping centre owner to provide adequate toilets for tenants and customers. Strictly speaking a super market would only be a tenant in a building and the toilets would be the responsibility of the building owner. For example Westfield are a big company that owns shopping centres, Woolworths are a retailer that rents in a Westfield property. Westfield would build enough toilets in their facility and Woolworths would pay rent for their own space and for the benefit of having those toilets. Woolworths would require that before moving in to a new property that the owner of the building had sufficient toilets. Some small older supermarkets might own and operate but even then there are rules about how many toilets they must make available. Hope this helps.

  15. Borris says:


    I work in a large hospital in NSW. One department with approx. 60 staff (95% female) has access to several single staff unisex toilets nearby and other toilets throughout the facility.

    The department also has access to a unisex communal toilet, which holds four unisex cubicles and is the main toilet for staff in this department.

    Is the communal unisex staff toilet meeting building codes/standards, Health facility Guidelines and Work Health & Safety requirements?


  16. Alex says:

    On occassions we have to do out of hours sewerage work where no toilet facilities are provided does our employer have to provide temporary facilities for these job sites.

  17. Helen says:

    Hi! What is the regulation for a girls’ high school. The school is under renovations and they have only supplied 8 portaloos for 400 girls.

  18. Riley says:

    I go to an all girls high school with around 1300 students and as punishment for rubbish our principal keeps locking our bathroom facilities. This can be cutting off up too 12 bathrooms at a time and forcing children to walk to the other side of the school just to go to the bathroom also increasing waiting times for bathroom use. Many of the remaining toilets do not work and are even missing locks on the stalls making then unable to be used. Is this legal for her to do?

  19. Editor says:

    This situation does not sound good at all. I would suggest you contact Worksafe in your state. They will be able to help you with Regulations and Codes of Practice for this matter.

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