Since it became illegal to smoke in public places, more and more employers have been investing in smoking shelters for their employees. This isn’t just about showing sympathy to people who may really struggle to escape their addiction – it’s also a hygiene and safety issue. Secret smoking in places like toilets creates a mess and can even make other workers feel ill. Smoking in stationary cupboards is a serious fire risk and the last thing you want is for people to be lighting up in areas where they may be flammable chemicals around.
Smoke detectors can be useful for discouraging secret smoking – at least if you place them where it’s difficult to reach up and deactivate them – but smoking shelters are a more positive way to encourage people to take responsibility. They’re simple to erect and don’t take up a lot of space. Using them also means that you know where to find smokers if you need to interrupt a break.
Providing a smoking shelter can make employees feel much happier about working for you, and the comfort it offers means they can get directly back to work after a cigarette break without having to warm up or dry off first. It discourages them from smoking in doorways and porches, which may be off-putting to other workers and customers. When you know where people are going to be smoking you can provide suitable bins, reducing the risk of cigarettes that haven’t been stubbed out properly being dropped in with other rubbish and starting fires.
Smoking shelters come in very different sizes so it’s advisable to start by estimating how many people are going to be using them. If some of your staff have stopped smoking cigarettes in favour of vaping and you’ve asked them to use the shelters too, it’s worth noting that it won’t take them as long to get what they need as it will for traditional smokers, though of course some people will also use the shelter as a social space.
Smoking shelters come with or without seats. Choosing one with a seat may be useful to older workers and some disabled workers, but it sometimes means there’s no room for wheelchair users. Shelters with narrow roofs may also be a problem for people in the latter category, who won’t be able to get enough of their bodies under them to escape rain.
Because rain doesn’t always fall straight down, it’s useful to try to position your shelter against the most sheltered wall in the outer part of your premises. If this isn’t practicable, a freestanding shelter may be the best option. Some of these are more enclosed than others and some have sloped roofs, enabling you to position them to protect against the usual direction of rain.
Smoking shelters are, naturally, designed to be able to cope with exposure to the weather, but their long-term resilience varies. Look for solid materials and choose a glass, stainless metal or plastic-covered surface. If the latter, you will need to check it from time to time and block up any holes that may have developed in order to protect the interior.
Won’t a smoking shelter encourage my employees to keep an unhealthy habit?
Employers who want to help their staff quit smoking can consult government websites or anti-smoking charities for advice about support programmes they can get involved in.
Can’t I just set aside a room for smokers?
The law states that smoking is not allowed in an enclosed public space, which includes indoor parts of the workplace. To avoid potential fines, you employees will have to go right outside. Smoking shelters are designed so that they don’t break this rule.