A client asked me an interesting question… Do businesses have to provide restroom facilities, namely toilets, for their employees? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clear regulations for the required number of “seats” (or water closets) a business must have.
|Number of employees
|Minimum number of water closets1
|1 to 15
|16 to 35
|36 to 55
|56 to 80
|81 to 110
|111 to 150
1Where toilet facilities will not be used by women, urinals may be provided instead of water closets, except that the number of water closets in such cases shall not be reduced to less than 2/3 of the minimum specified.
2One additional fixture for each additional 40 employees.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Toilet facilities, in toilet rooms separate for each sex, shall be provided in all places of employment in accordance with the table above. The number of facilities to be provided for each sex shall be based on the number of employees of that sex for whom the facilities are furnished. Where toilet rooms will be occupied by no more than one person at a time, can be locked from the inside, and contain at least one water closet, separate toilet rooms for each sex need not be provided. Where such single-occupancy rooms have more than one toilet facility, only one such facility in each toilet room shall be counted for the purpose of the table.
For farm workers and other agriculture employees, there is field sanitation standard (29 CFR 128.110). It mandates that toilets be located no more than a quarter mile walk from the location where employees are working. A toilet facility means “a fixed or portable facility designed for the purpose of adequate collection and containment of the products of both defecation and urination which is applied with toilet paper adequate to employee needs.” There must be at least one toilet facility and one hand-washing facility for each 20 employees or fraction thereof, unless the fieldwork employees work for a period of three hours or less during the day.
OSHA suggests that employers have a back-up plan in the event a location loses access to water, such as a broken water line. If that happens, the employer should “notify employees of the temporary interruption in service and should bring in portable restrooms and/or allow employees who may need to use the facilities to go to a nearby establishment for this purpose.” Employees should be instructed to notify their supervisors before leaving the premises.
If you need help understanding OSHA regulations, such as these, don’t hesitate to call us at 678-208-2802.