OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

August 24, 1994

MEMORANDUM FOR: Patricia Clark


Regional Administrator

FROM: John B. Miles, Jr, Director Directorate of Compliance Programs

SUBJECT: Interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.142(d)(2) and 1910.142(d)(8) Privies Lighting, Ventilation and Window Space Standards

This is a response to the memo sent to us on July 22, from Tony DeSiervi, Assistant Regional Administrator for FSO, regarding an interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.142(d)(2) and 1910.142(d)(8).

A review of the standards was conducted and the lighting standard for toilet rooms are intended to apply to permanent installations, not portable toilets (privies). I doubt that we could prove a hazard here that would sustain a citation--the violation seems technical.

As to ventilation, we would have to show that more than an admittedly unpleasant odor is involved here; there must be a hazard to employees from lack of ventilation. It is difficult to imagine that situation if the same equipment is similar to that provided in the field or on countless construction sites or for public gatherings.

We are concerned, of course, that the employees be healthy and safe: the portables must be serviced and kept sanitary, and supplied with paper products, etc. and there must be handwashing facilities. But I don't see the use of the portable as inconsistent with those.

Finally, if the camps were short on toilets, we would probably require the employer to abate by bringing in portables, not launching a construction project to expand its toilet room.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Raymond Donnelly at (202)219-8031.