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 https://www.osha.gov.

September 17, 1999

Ron Oxentenko
Eller & Sons Trees Inc.
2153 Highway 200
Trout Creek, Montana 59784

Dear Mr. Oxentenko:

Thank you for your August 24, 1999 letter to Michael Hancock of the Wage & Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration. Your letter has been referred to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP) for an answer to your question regarding whether a specific portable toilet and hand-washing unit meets the requirements of OSHA's field sanitation standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations 1928.110).

OSHA does not approve, endorse, or recommend any particular manufactured product because the manufacturer cannot ensure how the product will be used. The final determination of compliance with OSHA's standards must take into account all factors pertaining to the use of such product at a particular worksite with respect to employee safety and health. This must include an evaluation, through direct observation, of employee work practices and all conditions of use in the workplace. Therefore, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, only the employer is responsible for compliance with the Act and for the safe use of any product by their employees.

Enclosed is a copy of OSHA's field sanitation standard (§1928.110) for your information and review. Note that the standard requires the water for the hand-washing facility to be potable water, and that drinking water must be suitably cool and in sufficient amounts taking into consideration the work environment. The standard also requires employers to have one toilet facility for every 20 employees. If, however, the toilet's capacity is small, it will have to be serviced as necessary in order to accommodate the number of employees who will be using it.

It does not appear that there is anything inherent in the design of the portable toilet and hand-washing unit that would be in violation of OSHA's field sanitation standard. However, the unit must be properly used, serviced, and maintained.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that OSHA's enforcement guidance is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. Such guidance could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850.


Richard Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs