The OSHA Requirements for Sanitary Portable Toilets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set sanitation standards for providing sanitary portable toilets for workers at your job site. These recommendations can be grouped in the following categories:

  • Adequate and readily accessible facilities
  • Minimum requirement
  • Proper basic functions
  • Handwashing station
  • Servicing schedule

1. Adequate and Readily Accessible Facilities

OSHA is clear that merely having portable toilets at your job site does not meet the requirement of a sanitary facility. A toilet is deemed unusable or not available if it is not adequately sanitized and cleaned for use.

Portable toilets must also be easily and readily accessible at the job site. OSHA has stated that “toilets that take too long to get to” are deemed not available for use. Another consideration is that workers should not have to “wait in long lines” to use the facility.

If the facility is not easily accessible and if the facility is not readily accessible, then the facility is considered to be “not available for service or action.”

2. The Minimum Requirement for Portable Toilets

The requirement for an “adequate and readily accessible” facility feeds into the minimum requirement for the number of portable toilets at a job site. You are required to provide the following at the job site:

  • 20 employees or less: 1 facility
  • 20 employees or more, but less than 200: 1 toilet seat and 1 urinal per 40 workers
  • 200 employees or more: 1 toilet seat and 1 urinal per 50 workers

If a facility is deemed inadequate or not readily accessible, then it does not count toward the minimum requirement.

3. Provide Basic Functions

You are required to provide the following essential functions:

  • Privacy, as defined by toilets having separate compartments with a door and walls that are “sufficiently high to ensure privacy”
  • Proper ventilation and equipment in the portable toilet
  • Adequate lighting inside the toilet and surrounding the facility, especially for nighttime jobs

An additional consideration is whether to provide a separate women’s restroom. OSHA does not explicitly state that you are required to provide this amenity for female workers:

“The employer does not have to provide separate toilet facilities for each sex when they will not be occupied by more than one employee at a time, can be locked from the inside, and contain at least one toilet.”

4. Handwashing Station

For health purposes, OSHA requires that you provide a handwashing facility or station “at or adjacent to each toilet facility.” You must ensure the following is provided at the station:

  • Running hot and cold water with soap or disinfectants
  • A sanitary method to clean hands (paper towels, towel dispenser, or hand-drying air blower)
  • Instructions to “thoroughly wash hands and face” at the end of a workshift after handling paints, coatings, or hazardous/toxic substances

5. Proper Servicing

OSHA requires that portable toilets be serviced regularly to ensure a sanitary condition. Remember, an unsanitary toilet does not meet the requirements for an “adequate and readily accessible” toilet to help you meet the minimum requirement.

Your company is required to “establish and implement a schedule” to ensure that portable toilets are “maintained in a clean, sanitary, and serviceable condition.”

Find Out More About OSHA Requirements

Texas Outhouse would like to provide you with regular updates on OSHA requirements to support your job site. Subscribe to our blog and eNewsletter to receive recommendations on topics such as how often to service your portable toilets to ensure that you meet the standard.

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