Category Archives: Featured Articles

Improved Legislation and more funding needed

23 July 2021

The British Toilet Association has called for improved legislation and more government funding to address the current “appalling” lack of public toilet provision.

Public toilets are in “crisis” and rapidly vanishing, the body said, with many of those that remain displaying totally unacceptable levels of cleanliness and hygiene and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse.

Many public toilets have been locked down since the start of the pandemic due to a lack of cleaning, funding or any government guidance on how to get them fit for purpose, The British Toilet Association (BTA) said.

The public was being forced to go to the toilet in streets, beaches, open spaces and beauty spots, causing street fouling figures to escalate, aggravating the risk of COVID-19 transmission and leaving the local authorities to foot considerable clean-up costs, it added.

“Anyone suffering with an accessibility issue or those caring for someone who has limited mobility or a medical condition is socially excluded and potentially deemed prisoners in their own homes.”

–Raymond Martin
Managing Director, BTA

No Legal Requirement for Local Authorities to Provide Public Toilets

With no legal requirement in place to force local authorities to provide or run public toilets then, the BTA believes the majority of councils across the UK do not allocate sufficient resources or funds to the provision of public toilets.

It is calling for the government to make sanitation and hygiene a major priority and support local authorities to stop the closures, open new facilities and establish a new set of standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

The BTA has been lobbying for action since the pandemic began, asking questions of Ministers and the PM, writing to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and has taken part in a Zoom meeting with Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, the Minister for Building Safety and Communities and other Members of the House of Lords but without an adequate response.

It is currently preparing to write again to Lord Greenhalgh and also to the new Health Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid.

The BTA is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for the highest possible standards of hygiene and provision in all “away from home” toilet facilities across the UK. It understands that over a third of the population need to visit a toilet on an urgent basis, often at very short notice.

BTA Managing Director Raymond Martin said: “We are appalled at the total lack of funding over many years and extremely concerned at the closures and unprecedented low levels of public toilet facilities before, during and going into the future. This is now a crisis.

“Across our beautiful country, that was once the envy of the world because of its sanitation systems and hygiene controls, those responsible have allowed us to fall so far from the standards our forefathers achieved.

“Then along comes one of the deadliest pathogens for many generations and unbelievably our ministers and their government colleagues cannot see the need or make available any primary funding to tackle and fight this continuing threat to our nation’s daily existence.

“From the very first announcement of the arrival of COVID-19 the government has been repeatedly telling everyone to “wash your hands” but how much money has it allocated, spent or even committed to increasing sanitation and hygiene during a pandemic?  The answer is nothing.

“Hand washing materials cost money, hot water costs money, cleaning materials and staff cost have to be factored in, as well as the return to an acceptable level of provision.

“The lack of public toilet provision leaves families with young children, business travellers, drivers delivering our daily essentials across the country, staycationers, day-trippers those on longer holiday breaks, older persons wanting to visit family and many more people wondering when they might find relief.

“COVID is transmitted in human excrement and urine so forcing the public to use our open spaces to go to the toilet can only be a recipe for continued or increased transmission and incubation of this most deadly pathogen and any future variants.”

Accessibility Issues

“Anyone suffering with an accessibility issue or those caring for someone who has limited mobility or a medical condition is socially excluded and potentially deemed prisoners in their own homes.

“Footfall in shops and many high streets continues to remain low as the lack of decent toilet facilities is driving shoppers away to out of town superstores, leaving the villages and town shops with diminishing revenues and the constant threat of closure.

“The BTA has spent the last eighteen months primarily firefighting the lack of publicly accessible toilets across the UK but with very limited success without the support of this government.

“It’s time that this government made sanitation and hygiene a major priority and supported the local authorities to stop the closures of public toilets, restore standards and tackle this pandemic in our public buildings and spaces.”

Picture: a picture of a toilet

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 23 July 2021

Public Toilets told to reopen but still no help or funding from Westminster

From a story by Dan Bloom Mirror Online Political Editor in June 2020

Local government minister Simon Clarke and environment minister Rebecca Pow wrote to council chiefs today urging them to reopen loos.

Public toilets told to reopen as outdoor wees pose ‘harm to public health’ Ministers have written to council chiefs in England to end the lockdown practice of people ‘relieving themselves in public. People are being urged to spend their hard earned pounds to boost the local economy – but many can’t even spend a penny. The government has demanded public toilets reopen after warning the number of people relieving themselves outdoors poses a “harm to public health”.

Ministers jointly wrote to town halls in England today calling on them to reopen any loos that are still shuttered to stop the spread of Covid-19. Toilets in parks and other public places were closed from March to prevent transmission of the virus. But that has left many people in a tight spot as parks reopen to social groups of up to six people – but many toilets do not.

They said: “Councils should consider the harm to public health and the local environment caused by people relieving themselves in public.” The ministers warned the situation has got worse as the weather heats up. Many sufferers with bowel conditions have told of avoiding trips outdoors altogether due to anxiety about where to find a toilet.

They added:”Public hygiene is of the upmost importance, especially during the CORONAVIRUS pandemic, and enabling residents to access toilets safely is vital. Handwashing is an extremely important activity to help prevent the continued spread of the virus.

“Enabling residents to access toilets safely is vital.

Handwashing is important” Closed toilets may also impact disproportionately on certain groups who for health reasons rely on access to public toilets to be able to leave their homes.They can also make life difficult for young families and people who work outside. If you have toilets that are still shut, then we strongly urge you to refer to advice on measures that can be taken to open toilets in a safe way.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA) said:
“Councils have been taking individual local decisions about public toilets they control based on a risk assessment basis, if they can provide adequate cleaning staff and schedules and, of course, whether the governments social distancing measures can be maintained.”

QUESTION: How can a Minister ask an Authority to put its precious time and resources into something that neither he nor his own government see any advantage in supporting or funding. Without PRIMARY legislation and the appropriate budget to encourage proper clean and hygienic publicly accessible toilets then these appear to be, SADLY, just hollow words.

UK guidelines have been updated and adopted into an international standard

In response to the pandemic, BSI worked quickly with a wide range of experts to produce a set of generic safe working recommendations. 

These guidelines help organizations adjust the way they work during the pandemic to protect workers and the people they come into contact with.

International interest in what we’d produced has now led to the latest version forming the basis of an international standard. PD ISO/PAS 45005:2020 Occupational health and safety management — General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic supplies practical recommendations to organizations and workers on how to manage the risks. 

The standard: 

  • Provides a single source of internationally agreed good practice and accurate advice based on current knowledge and lessons learned
  • Provides practical examples and help with developing a rapid response plan
  • Is suitable for organizations resuming operations, those that have been operational throughout the pandemic, and those that are starting operations

If you’re responsible for protecting workers during the pandemic, either as a business owner, manager, worker, or in an advisory capacity, please download a free copy of PD ISO/PAS 45005:2020 now.

Download the document

For all general enquiries call +44 345 086 9001
or visit the BSI Group website
Our mailing address is:
BSI Standards
389 Chiswick High Road London,
W4 4AL United Kingdom

BTA receives welcome recognition with another major UK Award

The Special 2020 Edition BSI Standards Awards were created to recognize the individuals and organizations that have made great contributions to standards/standards guidance or have used a voluntary standard(s) in new/unprecedented ways specifically to support the UK’s response to the pandemic

NOMINATION:

British Toilet Association – Standards User Award
The pandemic was in danger of causing an unwanted increase in open defecation and urination because of the closure of many public toilets. The BTA developed guidance that contributed to the BSI guide on COVID 19 measures and responded to numerous calls from the media to provide solutions. Local authorities from all over the UK requested guidance on how their public toilets could be adapted to provide safe amenities that would help any residents who could not travel far without such facilities, and any visitors that needed toilets.

The BTA responded to this deluge of requests for help with calmness, consideration and authority, despite being a small organization with few staff. Without the input from the BTA many tourist centres and beauty spots would have been either completely closed or made unhygienic and unattractive by the actions of people who needed to “go” and had no suitable facilities. The BTA’s input to the BSI Flex 45005 Safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic – General guidelines for organizations was timely and helpful. The material will also be used in the upcoming revisions of BS 6465 Sanitary installations: Part 1 Code of practice for the design of sanitary facilities and scales of provision of sanitary and associated appliances and Part 4 Code of practice for the provision of public toilets, and may also contribute to a future ISO standard.

The BTA has consistently provided good input to the development of the BS 6465 suite of standards for over 20 years and has used British Standards to build its award schemes and guides. Its relationships with manufacturers, local authorities, user groups and researchers have helped it to provide well-grounded advice and comments during the development of various British Standards,; including on the provision of access for disabled people.

Standards User Award Winner

for supporting government and local authorities with advice and guidance about standards to ensure public toilets could remain open and safe for all users during the pandemic.

A digital LINK is being created and will be placed here shortly to allow all our members to view the actual Awards cerempny that was held VIRTUALLY this year due to Covid restrictions

Coronavirus (Covid-19) BTA GUIDELINES

The BTA has been continuing to work throughout the pandemic to offer advice and guidance to all our members as well as providers and suppliers; on the importance of publicly accessible toilets. Each day we have been talking with experts around the world on cleaning and hygiene technologies and methodologies – WOW it;s been a steep learning curve !

This virus is posing a lot of questions on HOW do we kill it – WHAT do we use to kill it, HOW often do we apply product and/or WILL it return.

The government has offered little if NO guidance other than Hand washing and really hasn’t put any serious thought into the effects or long-term battle. From our research to date we are beginning to understand the quickest, safest and hopefully most effective methods to treat surfaces.

1. STEAM – high pressure steam cleaning will certainly kill the virus. So opening up a toilet block using this method offers the best results. It’s then a matter of how many times you can repeat this process.Some cleaning companies are using Hand-Held steaming devices to get into tight recesses
2. UV LIGHT – is very effective on all viruses (including Covid19) and can be applied using a hand-held wand. Care must be taken to apply the light for a period of several seconds on specific areas – as it takes a few moments for the UV to do its job. We have seen larger industrial units that circulate air through a UV prism which is very effective – but the cost of these is in excess of £3k.
3. One of our BCC colleagues helped to set up the Nightingale Hospital in Glasgow and her role was to train the cleaners. She went at length to maintain that good thorough cleaning with mild detergents or simple soap/fluid and hot water was just as effective. Again the importance of continued cleaning was the absolute key to maintaining a high level of hygiene.
4. BLEACH — I know it’s a forbidden substance in many councils – but it certainly kills Covid-19. We are aware that in these extremely threatening times that many cleaning operatives (fearing for their own safety as well as wanting to keep the public safe) may be resorting to using a mild/diluted solution to make sure that the surfaces are clear and free from this deadly intruder. We’re not condoning it – just putting it out there.

As you would expect, we are being bombarded with a range of products that companies would like us to endorse — but you will all understand that we cannot specify any particular brands or technologies until we have verified the bench tests & clinical trials — and in most cases that is probably many months away. So we are planning to feature some products ad processes that might give you ideas and concepts to persue yourselves.

We have repeatedly asked this government for the opportunity to lead a team of specialists/experts in working to find clear and correct solutions for the vast array of issues regarding public toilets. Everything from:
Surfaces (a complete range of different types..wood,plastic,stainless steel, formica, paint etc..) and we need to understand how long the virus lives on each – if it is affected by heat/light/cold/rain.wind ?? 
Touch Points – handles rails, flushes, taps, dispensers, door bolts, partitions Airflow – warm air dryers, aircon systems, windows and ventsSoap – non touch dispensers – replacing with sanitizing liquid – charging
External Sanitizing stations – for members of the public who don’t need the loo or at remote locations
Entry & Exit points – how do people enter and leave the facility – how do we want them to? Clinch/Pinch points? Control and Security

We have raised the issue of emergency funding to get these units brought up to an acceptable standard – perhaps even upgraded – to date there has been absolutely NO response.

We have raised further concerns on the projected increase in tourism and “STAYCATIONS” this year particularly. If our citizens are too scared to travel abroad to other countries for fear of catching any 2nd wave — then it is fair to assume that many may choose to visit the beautiful hills, valleys and seaside resorts of this country and therefore significantly increased numbers will expect to find the toilets open, clean and fit-for-purpose,

As there is still no PRIMARY or STATUTORY LEGISLATION, and more fundamentally no direct FUNDING that compels Local Authorities to to provide Publicly Accessible Toilets then we will continue to see councils struggling to provide clean, hygienic facilities across the country.

The government has been repeatedly asked to make “Emergency Funding” available to get these units reopened and more importantly upgraded to an acceptable standard to hekp fight the current & future viral threats. But again they have failed to respond or focus on these vital facilities. Several letters have been sent to various politicians asking them to address this issue and to make available some revenue to help councils to fight this dangerour viral threat by bringing these essential services up to speed and ready to facilitate the public in the quest for increased hygiene & safety.

£8.2 billion has now been granted to help fight this pandemic and to get the country’s economy flowing again. Without the legislation or requirement for councils to provide decent clean public toilets – many will choose to spend these monies on their mandatory services and long term contracts and our essential facilities will fall further into decline – placing all of us at increased risk of not being ale to find relief or hand-washing facilities when we most need them. Those councils who understand and embrace the need for public toilets have already indicated a substantial rise in the cost of entry — prices will rise to perhaps 50p – £1.00. Many units will move to “card only” access to prevent further contamination from coins. Customers will have to accept that this revenue will surely be needed to sustain the expected levels of hygiene and maintenance in the coming months and years ahead. It might also help to eradicate the problems that many councils are having with homeless sleepers and anti-social activities (including drugs) 

BTA continues to work with the British Cleaning Council (BCC) and the British Standards (BSI) to review policies and directives to cleaning operatives, suppliers and providers. Primarily we’re all remote working so contact time is limited and many elements are taking longer to get sign-off or final agreement. The BSI has produced a “Safe working during Covid-19 pandemic” guidance document for orgaisations – follow the LINK below

https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/topics/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-guidelines/Form/thank-you-ga-03ri/

BSI Guidance on: Use of toilets

The organization should consider additional measures to facilitate the safe use of toilet facilities (including Changing Places toilets used by disabled people) by workers and other interested parties. Actions can include:

a) managing the use of toilet facilities to avoid crowding;

b) establishing more frequent and enhanced cleaning (including touch points such as toilet seats, locks, flushes, grab rails, hoists) and waste disposal;

c) limiting the number of cubicles and urinals available in a block of toilets, to promote physical distancing;

d) using signage to encourage users to close toilet lids before flushing, where lids are fitted;

e) ensuring a system is in place to allow queues for toilets to form outside of the facility rather than in the confined space;

f) requesting workers or visitors to use a single designated set of facilities within a workplace, taking into account users with special needs who cannot comply with this;

g) providing paper towels or electric hand dryers, and ensuring levels of paper towels are monitored and maintained and that there is frequent, safe disposal of waste;

h) using automatic rather than manual equipment (e.g. sensor operated taps, soap dispensers, flushes, foot-operated bins); and

i) increased monitoring and replenishment of supplies (e.g. soap, sanitizer, paper towels, toilet paper).

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As always, I would be delighted to discuss and expand any of the points raised or still causing you any concern. You have my numbers – and I would welcome a call. Please stay SAFE and ALERT!