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Providing Jobsite Workers with Convenient and Clean Portable Restrooms

Just about everything is bigger in Texas and that even includes your choices of “where to answer the call of nature” when away from home.

Beloved convenience store chain Buc-ee’s, after all, has its New Braunfels location (with 83 stalls!) in the Cintas Hall of Fame of America’s Best Restroom awards.

Of course, it is not only road warriors that need access to convenient and clean bathrooms, but workers on job sites without indoor plumbing need portable toilets to meet their needs.

OSHA Guidelines on Portable Toilets at Job Sites

Leaving employees working on job sites without permanent restrooms to their own devices when “they gotta go” is most likely unsanitary, unprofessional, and just plain bad business in an economy where there are two job openings for every person seeking work.

And if that wasn’t enough of an argument to meet your job site workers bathroom break needs, then consider that it is the law as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires “employers to provide all workers with sanitary and immediately-available toilet facilities (restrooms).”

“The sanitation standards (29 CFR 1910.141, 29 CFR 1926.51 and 29 CFR 1928.110) are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary and/or are not available when needed,” explains OSHA.

Employers must:

  • Allow workers to leave their work locations to use a restroom when needed.

  • Provide an adequate number of restrooms for the size of the workforce to prevent long lines.

  • Avoid imposing unreasonable restrictions on restroom use.

  • Ensure restrictions, such as locking doors or requiring workers to sign out a key, do not cause extended delays

“Employers may need to be flexible in developing procedures to ensure that workers have access to toilet facilities as needed. Employers with mobile workers must provide readily available transportation that provides prompt access (i.e., less than 10 mins) to restrooms if they are not available at the work location,” says OSHA. “Toilets for farm workers must be located no more than a quarter mile from the location where workers are working on similar findings.”

For job sites such as the construction industry, that flexibility means providing portable toilets for your workers.

The OSHA Toilets at Construction Jobsites Formula

Employers do not have to guess how many portable toilets are needed at their worksites without permanent restrooms because OSHA’s construction sanitation standard is codified at 29 CFR 1926.51. Paragraph (c) of §1926.51, "Toilets at construction jobsites," which states:

  • If an Employer has 20 or less employees at a jobsite: A minimum of 1 toilet seat needs to be provided.

  • If an Employer has 20 or more employees at a jobsite: A minimum of 1 toilet seat and 1 urinal needs to be provided per every 40 workers.

  • If an Employer has 200 or more employees at a jobsite: A minimum of 1 toilet seat and 1 urinal needs to be provided per every 50 workers.

Of course, those OSHA requirements don’t provide Buc-ee’s level of bathroom break opportunities – in theory you could have 24 workers queued up waiting for an available toilet to open.

Going Beyond the Bare Minimum: Portable Toilets

“Adherence to this OSHA standard is required in the United States, but voluntary consensus standards recommend more stringent guidelines,” says the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The ANSI/PSAI Z4.3-2016 – Sanitation – Non Sewered Waste-Disposal Systems – Minimum Requirements calls for 1 toilet facility per every 10 employees.

However, if the facilities are serviced more than once per week, the recommendations for necessary toilets change, and 1 toilet facility becomes suitable for 15 employees.

“These standard restroom amounts are also not inclusive to the total number of employees, as there needs to be different lavatory facilities for male and female employees. So, in accordance with ANSI Z4.3 guidelines, there should be 1 toilet for every 10 males and 1 for every 10 females,” says ANSI.

ANSI guidelines allow for “mobile trailers or prefabricated, skid-mounted or otherwise portable structures”, if they provide:

  • Adequate internal space

  • Have self-closing doors

  • Designed with a finish that can be easily cleaned

Avoid Flushing Money Away by Violating OSHA Regs

Business owners that do not do the right thing and provide portable toilet access to their jobsite workers, are in danger of racking up OSHA violations that can become quite costly.

OSHA penalties are annually adjusted for inflation and starting on Jan. 15, 2022 the costs are:

  • $14,502 per violation including serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements

  • $14,502 per day beyond the abatement date for failure to abate the issue

  • $145,027 per violation for willful or repeated violations.

Believe it not, companies have found themselves on the wrong side of OSHA by not adhering to the toilet requirements for workers.

KTVB reported, for example, that the self-proclaimed number one home builder in Idaho “received citations and fines from [OSHA] for failing to provide adequate toilet facilities for workers at home construction sites.”

When the television station investigated workers complaints, they found no portable toilets at 11 different sites. One worker told the station, “If a gas station is close enough and it's not too bad, we'll run to a gas station. But if we're in places where we can't...we'll just use a bottle or whatever and throw it in the trash when we're done.”

In another case, a New Jersey company was fined $12,000 for OSHA violations that included, “a lack of prompt access to toilet facilities.”

Keeping Portable Toilets Clean and Nearby

While providing your employees with portable toilets on your worksites is a great first step, business owners are reminded that to meet OSHA requirements they also must be nearby, and they need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

OSHA has noted that for purposes of this standard, "nearby" means prompt access -- sufficiently close so that employees can use them when they need to do so.

For onsite employees, a standard of being able to walk to the portable toilets within 10 minutes is acceptable, and for mobile work crews, those that travel during the day from site to site, a 10 minute drive away would be acceptable.

“Toilets that take too long to get to are not "available,” says OSHA.

And if your portable toilets are not being cleaned on a regular basis, OSHA will not count them as available.

“Toilets that are unsanitary are unusable and therefore are not "available." Consequently, a toilet is not "provided" under §1926.51(c)(1) if it is in an unsanitary condition,” says OSHA.

According to OSHA interpretations, an employer that had a toilet for 20 employees serviced twice per week would likely be providing a toilet in a sanitary condition, and that a toilet for 10 employees, if serviced once per week, would likely be provided in a sanitary condition.

We should note that under the OSHA rules, portable toilet facilities do not have to be in immaculate condition to be considered sanitary.

Contact The Texas Loo today for restroom trailers that not only meet all OSHA standards but will make your employees happy to go to work each day.

Tags: Construction, Cleanliness