Portable Toilet: Conditions for Using When Regular Facilities Offline

Mel DavisOur business is located in an area that can be plagued with occasional disruptions of our water supply. We can provide drinking water but our toilet facilities are rendered inoperable. Can we provide portable facilities if the water is going to be off for an extended length of time?

The General Industry Safety Orders, Article 9, Sanitation, contains the requirements for toilet facilities and lavatories. Nowhere in the regulation does it state that the facilities are to be permanently affixed in a specific manner.

Therefore, it can be assumed that if the facility meets the stated criteria for privacy, cleanliness, waste storage, and sanitary supply issues, then a portable toilet facility is permissible. The portable toilet will require a lockable door and the interior, exterior and environs of the structure shall be cleaned and maintained in such condition as will not give rise to harmful exposure.

As with indoor facilities, lavatories are to be provided and maintained in good working order. The lavatory can be an integral unit with the porta potty or it can be a free-standing unit convenient to the facility with controlled drainage to capture the waste water.

Each lavatory will be provided with running water and suitable cleansing agents. The water temperature can be ambient except in those instances where employees are working with substances that are regulated as carcinogens in these orders or skin contact may occur with a substance designated skin (S) in Section 5155, airborne contaminants, such as diazinon. The required water temperature then is at least 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

These requirements may be subject to variants by local health departments enforcing more stringent standards contained in the Health and Safety Code for food handlers.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.