- A new restroom pod outfitted with hot, running water and a flushing toilet that is designed to be lifted into place on vertical construction sites helps save time and increase productivity, while promoting dignity and respect for workers on site, according to Australia-based construction giant Lendlease.
- The firm launched the H³ Wellness Hub, which provides an enclosed, climate-controlled space that connects directly to sanitation, fresh water and utility risers or remote holding tanks that reduce odors. The units replace chemical port-a-potties at vertical construction sites, while providing hot water and porcelain fixtures for workers to use on the job.
- The units, which provide better hygiene for workers particularly during COVID-19, are already on jobsites in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
Port-a-potties have long been a topic of derision — and some claim, an overlooked barrier to entry for recruiting new workers — in the construction trades.
Traditional chemical toilets often succumb to overuse on jobsites, and are exposed to both sweltering and frigid temperatures. Recruiters trying to bring new talent into the trades cite working outside and needing to use a portable toilet as two impediments to attracting young workers to the industry.
“Our industry can do better,” said Mike Fratianni, Lendlease’s managing director of construction for the Americas in an email. “Lendlease has always believed that respecting our workers and trade partners is an important part of fulfilling our vision to create the best places. With that, it probably comes as little surprise that we think giving our labor the safest, most accessible, hygiene-advanced temporary facilities, translates to better workforce morale and ultimately, improved project delivery.”
Port-a-potties have also been the scene of hateful and lewd graffiti in the industry for years. For some, it’s the impermanent nature and unsanitary feeling of port-a-potties that encourages that kind of behavior.
“Just the environment of the porta-jon feels disrespectful to the individual using it,” said Susan Field, placement coordinator at the United Brotherhood of Carpenter’s National Job Corps Training Fund. “So they don’t feel any obligation to respect the structure, which for some reason gives them license to do other things, like draw
stupid, juvenile, dirty pictures.”
Lendlease is hoping that in addition to improving productivity for vertical jobsite workers by bringing the bathroom up to them, instead of making them get on a hoist to go down to street level, it will also help raise the level of respect on site.
“Not providing convenient, sanitary bathroom accommodations for a diverse workforce does a disservice to an entire organization. It negatively impacts employee morale and productivity,” Fratianni said. “Bathrooms, while something most office workers take for granted, are a simple solution that can have a major positive impact for those on our job sites.”
Lendlease hasn't released pricing for the units, which are being sold through South Dakota-based B&T Manufacturing.