Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Housekeeping Safety


Areas of Concern – Sanitation Facilities

The absence of appropriate sanitation facilities can lead to adverse health effects in workers. A lack of suitable sanitation facilities can lead to communicable diseases, heat-related illnesses, health effects related to delay in using the restroom, and the effects of ingesting or absorbing hazardous substances not properly removed from the workplace. The unique working conditions associated with shipyard work often involve performing tasks in extreme weather conditions, as well as in locations where access to sewered toilets is not always possible. These conditions present a challenge for employers to ensure that they meet the sanitation needs of workers.

Sanitation Facilities

Sanitation facilities, including supplies, must be maintained in a clean, sanitary, and serviceable condition for workers' personal and health needs. Sanitation facilities include potable drinking water, toilet facilities, hand-washing and drying facilities, showers, changing rooms, eating and drinking areas, first-aid stations, and on-site medical service areas. Sanitation supplies include soap, waterless cleansing agents, single-use drinking cups, drinking water containers, toilet paper, and towels (29 CFR 1915.80(b)(24)). A schedule must be established for servicing, cleaning, and supplying each facility (29 CFR 1915.88(a)(2) and (d)(1)(iii)).

Toilet Facilities

A minimum number of toilets must be made available for workers at each worksite. These toilets must provide privacy, be separate for each gender, and kept in a clean, sanitary, and serviceable condition. If a toilet facility is designed to be occupied by only one worker at a time, separate toilets for each gender are not required as long as it can be locked from the inside and contains at least one toilet.  Urinals may be substituted for toilet facilities designated for men; however, the number of toilets cannot be reduced to less than 2/3 of the minimum specified. Employers must also ensure that toilet facilities are readily accessible to workers, taking into account the size and location of worksites, and the physical characteristics of the shipyard. For example, workers who are located aboard a large vessel may not be able to get to facilities quickly enough if toilet facilities are only located on the dock. At worksites where it is not feasible to provide sewered toilets, or when there is a temporary and brief increase in the number of workers, portable toilets may be used. These facilities must be vented and equipped with lighting when necessary (29 CFR 1915.88(d)).

OSHA's Sanitation standard for shipyard employment at 29 CFR 1915.88(d)(2) specifies the minimum number of toilets employers must provide per number of workers as outlined below:

Number of Workers Number of Required Toilets
1 to 15 1
16 to 35


36 to 55


56 to 80


81 to 110


111 to 150


Over 150

1 additional toilet for each additional 40 workers

Handwashing Facilities

Hand Washing Steps - Start - 1. Wet Hands, 2. Soap (20 seconds), 3. Scrub backs of hands, wrists, between fingers, under fingernails, 4. Rinse, 5. Town dry, 6. Turn off taps with towel

Handwashing stations must be at or adjacent to each toilet facility, and contain hot and cold or lukewarm running water and soap, and clean, single-use hand towels with a sanitary means for disposal.  Continuous cloth roll towel systems that provide clean individual sections or hand-drying air blowers are also acceptable alternatives to disposable, single-use hand towels (29 CFR 1915.88(e)(2)(ii)), and waterless skin-cleansing agents capable of disinfecting the skin or neutralizing the contaminants workers are exposed to are acceptable alternatives to soap and water (29 CFR 1915.88(e)(2)(i)). 

Workers engaged in the application of paints or coatings, or in other operations involving hazardous or toxic substances, must be informed about the importance of washing their hands and faces at the end of the workshift and prior to eating, drinking, or smoking (29 CFR 1915.88(e)(3)).

Eating, Drinking, Break Areas, and Waste Disposal

Facilities must have designated areas for the consumption and storing of food, beverages, and tobacco products, where employees are not exposed to hazardous or toxic substances (29 CFR 1915.88(h)).  Waste receptacles must be provided both in these areas and work areas, in an appropriate quantity based on size and location to encourage their use (29 CFR 1915.88(h)(iii)). Employers must maintain a clean workplace in a manner to prevent vermin infestation (29 CFR 1915.88(j)(1)).

Waste receptacles must be constructed of materials that are corrosion-resistant, leak proof, and easily cleaned or disposable, including a solid, tight-fitting cover, unless the receptacle can be kept clean, sanitary, and serviceable without a cover (29 CFR 1915.88(i)(1)(i) – (i)(1)(ii)).  Waste receptacles must be emptied as often as necessary to prevent overflow, and emptied every day for receptacles containing food (29 CFR 1915.88(i)(1)(iv)).

Potable and Non-Potable Water

Notice - Non-Potable Water - Not Safet For Health or Personal Use

Potable water must be supplied in an adequate amount to meet the health and personal needs of each worker (29 CFR 1915.88(b)). Potable water made available to workers for drinking must be provided from a fountain, a covered container with single-use drinking cups stored in a sanitary receptacle, or single-use bottles. Shared drinking cups, dippers, and water bottles are prohibited (29 CFR 1915.88(b)(3)). Non-potable water may not be used for human consumption or health and personal needs, and must be clearly marked as such -- "NOT SAFE FOR HEALTH OR PERSONAL USE" (29 CFR 1915.88(c)(2)). However, non-potable water is permitted for purposes such as firefighting and cleaning outdoor premises as long as it does not contain chemicals, fecal matter, coliform (intestinal bacteria), or other substances at levels that may create a hazard to workers (29 CFR 1915.88(c)(1)).

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