When it comes to employee safety and sanitation across the construction, utility, and mining industries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prides itself in making sure employers walk a straight line. So, don’t just guess at OSHA’s regulations for restrooms (hefty fine, anyone?). Instead, let us share them with you. We’ll even provide you with an easy solution at the end to make sure you’re OSHA compliant.
What You Need For Restrooms to Be OSHA Compliant
To stay compliant, make sure you check all the following boxes:
Minimum Number of Facilities
Toilets have to be provided for employees according to the following numbers:
|Number of employees
|Minimum number of facilities (separate for each sex)
|Less than 20
|1 toilet seat and 1 urinal per 40 workers
|1 toilet seat and 1 urinal per 50 workers
And if these numbers weren’t vague enough, OSHA goes on to say that “employers must provide an adequate number of restrooms for the size of the workforce to prevent long lines.”
As you’re very well aware, restroom needs depend on a variety of factors, including fluid intake, medical conditions, medications, air temperature, and more.
For example, during cooler months, you could get away with the minimum number of facilities at the job site. But during warmer months, you may need to double that number as your employees will likely consume more liquids to stay hydrated. (Speaking of which, if you’re looking for the best way to protect outdoor workers in extreme heat, look no further.)
And when it comes to mine safety, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) requires surface coal mine operators to provide at least one approved sanitary toilet at a location that’s convenient to each surface work site. They also require one additional approved sanitary toilet for each 10 miners working at a location.
Good Sanitation Standards
OSHA also requires job site restrooms to be in sanitary condition. Employers should provide:
- Hot and cold running water (or lukewarm water)
- A cleansing agent, like hand soap
- Warm air blowers or individual hand towels (e.g., paper or cloth)
- Trash cans for disposal of hand towels and feminine hygiene products
And, of course, we need to mention cleanliness, as in how often the portable restrooms are cleaned.
While there are no set rules, OSHA requires employers to “regularly” evaluate toilet conditions and set routine servicing schedules for cleaning, waste removal, and supply replenishment. (The servicing scheduling should account for the number of on-site toilets, workers, and shifts.)
Also, keep in mind that these are the minimum restroom requirements set forth by OSHA. Be a decent human. Go above and beyond to make sure your workers’ restroom experience is as enjoyable as possible.
Immediately Available Restrooms
Also according to OSHA, employers with mobile workers must provide readily available transportation that provides prompt access (i.e., less than 10 minutes) to restrooms if they are not available at the work location.
Again with the ambiguity, we know.
But as an employer, this restroom requirement actually does benefit you as well because it cuts down on what we like to call “rolling costs.”
Think about it: Do your employees have to use a company vehicle to travel to a bathroom from the job site or construction site? How much gas is used every trip? How many extra miles is that putting on the vehicle, adding to maintenance costs?
When you consider all those related expenses, your employees’ hourly cost can easily quadruple, if not more.
Provided with Reasonable Restrictions
OSHA also requires that you avoid imposing “unreasonable restrictions” on restroom use, such as those that cause extended delays or limit restroom use—i.e., locking the doors and requiring the employees to ask and sign out a key.
Important note: This still means you as an employer need reasonable restrictions on access to toilet facilities. Whether considered reasonable or not will be up to the discretion of OSHA’s compliance officer if a citation should ever be issued.
OSHA evaluates restrictions on a case-by-case basis, giving careful consideration to the nature of the restriction (i.e., how long workers have to delay restroom breaks) and employers’ explanations.
[Psst—If you feel like nerding out over the exact implications of this requirement, here’s OSHA’s reference number: §1910.141(c)(1)(i). You’re welcome.]
How to Meet All Restroom Requirements for OSHA Compliance
We’d be doing you an injustice not mentioning Brief Relief’s line of products here. (Shameless plug to follow.)
Consider the Brief Relief Lavatory System to be your OSHA-compliant, full-service bathroom solution for mobile crew members. It comes with a privacy shelter, commode, full-sized seat, and supply of single-use Disposa-John waste bags.
To use it, an employee simply sets up the privacy shelter, places the commode inside, and lines it with a Disposa-John waste bag. When they do their doody, the chemical compounds inside the waste bag convert the liquid and solid wastes into an odorless gel. When finished, the employee simply removes the waste bag and seals it closed.
And because Brief Relief waste bags are non-toxic and landfill-safe, they can be thrown away in any regular trash can.
Storage is effortless as well. Workers can set up the Brief Relief Lavatory System and fold it away in a carry case in a matter of minutes.
No more bacteria-infested, smelly porta-potties. No more hours of wasted time and money trying to get to and from the restroom sites. No more privacy issues for team members. We created a solution that successfully tackles OSHA’s restroom requirements and common portable toilet problems.
To browse the complete line of Brief Relief products for your workers, visit our shop.