Let’s start by clearly defining a workplace. Typically, it’s defined as any building that houses workers, whether they’re self employed or employed by others, and whether they’re paid for the work or not. Legislation passed by the Tobacco Act in 1987 prohibits smoking in any workplace that is enclosed, and this applies to all workplaces in Victoria and across Australia. There are, however, a few workplaces exempt from this law, including sole traders with businesses not open to the public, designated mental health services, correctional facilities, detention centres and high roller rooms at the casino.
The smoking ban for enclosed workplaces also does not apply to outdoor areas (areas not part of the enclosed workplace). However, if the workplace is outside, an employer will have a duty of care under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2014 (regulated by Worksafe), to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
Many businesses choose to go completely smoke-free, whilst others will restrict smoking outdoors to a designated area in their workplace. Everyone who works or visits is required to abide by these laws, including employers, employees, voluntary workers and customers. Any breaches in the law can result with infringement notices issued to both the person smoking and the person in charge of the workplace at the time the smoking occurs.
In this brief guide, we will take a look at what does and doesn’t count as a smoking shelter for the workplace.
What is an ‘Enclosed’ Space?
Enclosed spaces are defined as those that have walls and a roof, and for a workplace to be considered enclosed, walls can be permanent, semi-permanent or even temporary. Ultimately, if a space has enclosed sides, you will not be able to smoke there.
Office meeting and lunchrooms, for example, are fully-enclosed. Even enclosed car parks, factories or garages with roller doors are not permitted. For many employers providing a shelter that is compliant with the law can prove problematic.
Are Smoking Shelters Legal?
There is actually no legal requirement for an employer to provide a designated smoking area for employees. However, they do need to consider how they manage employees who smoke within the vicinity of their workplace, as there may be complaints from neighbouring businesses or residents.
If an employer does choose to provide a smoking area, it must comply with the law. Smoking shelters are not illegal, providing they are not enclosed. They must be positioned at least four metres away from walkway, window or door to prevent the spread of second-hand smoke, which can affect non-smokers’ health.
Shelters must have an open-wall design and positioned so there is no risk for smoke to travel into a building.
Do Shipping Containers Make Good Smoking Shelters?
Modified shipping containers are ideal for use as smoking shelters. Shipping containers by nature are durable, made from strong corten steel, and come with an existing floor. No assembly required! Painted any colour, these bespoke sheds can be custom made to any size and are completely portable.
If you’re a business looking for a compliant designated area to house the smokers at your workplace, a smoking hut could solve your problem. Containers are a great choice, but you will have to consider the price and other factors.
Containerspace provides shipping containers and container solutions for a variety of projects and business needs. Are you in need of an affordable, robust smoking shelter? Take a look at our range of products and call our team to learn more.