Whatever your industry and no matter what kind of commercial vehicles you operate, the welfare of your employees is hugely important. You need reliable vehicles that meet the most stringent safety standards, provide a comfortable working environment for your staff and contain all the features they require to do their jobs - that's a given. You'll also know how important it is to source the right vehicle for the task in hand. Sending out a van that's too small to collect the necessary load, or using a dropside when you really need a tipper, can cost you valuable time and money.
Sometimes, the nature of your work could mean you require a solution that provides a little extra in terms of facilities.
If you send a road crew to work overnight on a motorway maintenance job, or deploy a group of catering staff to a remote site without a water supply, how do you ensure these people have the necessary welfare facilities at their disposal? Your staff will need washing, toilet, rest and changing facilities, as well as somewhere clean to eat and drink during breaks.
This is where mess vans - also known as welfare vans or welfare units - come in. These vehicles are typically fitted with hot running water, a toilet, canteen facilities including a microwave and a seating area that can accommodate up to six people - everything you need to make sure your staff remain comfortable and safe while they're on the job.
Welfare at Work
By using a mess van for overnight jobs and road maintenance contracts, you're not only keeping your staff happy - you're also making sure you meet your legal duties as an employer. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that all employers must provide adequate and appropriate welfare amenities for their staff while they're at work. This means you need to guarantee your staff will have access to toilet, washing, rest and changing facilities in order to stay within the law.
Employees need hot and cold running water, enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them, soap or other washing agents, and a means of drying hands, such as paper towels. It's a legal requirement for employers to provide drinking water that is free from contamination and easily accessible by all employees. Your staff also need a place to change if special clothing is worn for work, as well as somewhere to rest and eat meals. The Health and Safety Executive will take a dim view of any employer that fails to provide any of these facilities. So adding a mess van to your fleet, or hiring one for an individual job if necessary, will ensure your mobile workplaces always measure up to the regulations.
Taking Care of your Workforce
Road and railway maintenance is one area where the benefits of mess vans are clearly evident. Staff on these jobs often work long hours overnight, so will need access to all the facilities in the vehicle to complete their shift. They also work in fairly hazardous conditions, which means the onus is on employers to safeguard their welfare.
The safety of road crews in particular is currently under the spotlight in the UK. In response to growing safety fears, the Highways Agency recently announced the rollout of 'screaming' traffic cones to offer additional protection for people working on motorways. The cones emit a high-pitched wailing sound when struck, alerting workers to danger if vehicles come to close.
According to the Agency, eight people have been killed while maintaining the road network in England over the last three years. Many workers can tell stories of careless motorists travelling too close to roadwork areas on the motorway, colliding with traffic cones and in some cases causing serious injuries. Although a mess van can't make drivers act more responsibly, it will provide your workers with a place to eat, wash and recharge their batteries after many hard hours on the roadside.