Many HGV and bus drivers deprived of access to toilet facilities

Many HGV and bus drivers are deprived of the United Nations (UN) Human Right to sanitation due to the lack of toilet facilities on the national road network, a survey has found.

A recent survey of nearly 5,000 bus drivers, who are members of trade union Unite, found that 83% of them are “not supplied with a list of toilet facilities or a map should the need arise on routes.”

Unite point out that the lack of accessible toilet facilities on a bus route is an important issue for bus drivers as shifts are regularly five and half hours long before they have a break from driving and forcing drivers to wait that long before using a toilet can cause serious health issues and result in them becoming distracted and losing concentration while driving.

Meanwhile a separate survey of more than 4,000 truck drivers also identified a major issue with a lack of access to toilets. The survey found that when asked the question; ‘when sleeping at a lay-by are you able to easily access toilet and washroom facilities’ 89% of respondents said they rarely or never had access to such facilities.

Truck drivers are regularly forced to sleep in lay-bys in order to comply with driving regulations due to a lack of spaces at truck stops and motorway services.

To coincide with the UN’s World Toilet Day today [19 November], the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is renewing its calls for government to prioritise the provision of sufficient welfare facilities for professional drivers across the UK.

Elizabeth de Jong, director of UK policy at FTA, said: “The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the UK economy, ensuring businesses, schools and hospitals are all stocked with the goods they need to operate. But despite the invaluable contribution HGV drivers provide to the economy, they are often denied access to very basic amenities. The inconsistent provision of toilets and other facilities for HGV drivers across the road network is not good enough; access to hygiene amenities and other welfare services are a basic right for all workers. No other industry would be expected to work without access to toilets, so why should HGV drivers?

“More than 18 months ago, the government vowed to improve and expand the provision of facilities for those charged with keeping Britain trading, but since that promise, amenities have actually become worse. Nearly all the respondents to a survey conducted by FTA of its member organisations felt there had been no improvement in the facilities for drivers on local roads, and over half of them felt that the provision had become worse over the last 12 months. In an industry where you are compelled by law to take regular breaks and rest, it is vital drivers have access to these most basic facilities.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland added: “The lack of access to toilets is simply intolerable and can and does result in our members developing severe health problems and in some cases being forced to quit their jobs due to medical conditions.

“This is an issue for all transport workers, but a lack of access to toilets for women when they have their period or are going through the menopause, or facilities where they risk abuse or sexual harassment, are more barriers faced by women working in this sector where they are already underrepresented.

“Employers have a clear legal duty to provide adequate toilets for their workers and Unite will be ensuring that those duties are met.

“No workers should be denied toilet dignity by either not having decent facilities or by not being able to freely access them. That is why Unite supports the global transport workers sanitation charter being launched for this World Toilet Day and we are calling on all employers to sign up and make a difference”

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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