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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.
February 2, 2006
Mr. Charles R. Kubly
110 Bargstedt Lane
Fonda, New York 12069
Dear Mr. Kubly:
This is in response to your letter dated April 18, 2005, which was sent to the U.S. Department of Labor and forwarded to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the situation discussed and may not be applicable to any question or situation not delineated within your letter. You had specific questions concerning restroom usage at your place of employment. We apologize for the delay in responding.
Question 1: What are OSHA's regulations regarding bathrooms, and where can this regulation be found?
Response: OSHA's sanitation standard that addresses restrooms for general industry may be found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910, Section 141 (abbreviated as 29 CFR 1910.141). A copy is enclosed.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) may be found in the reference section of your local public library. You can also access the CFRs on the Internet through the Government Printing Office website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/retrieve.html. The specific link to OSHA's sanitation standard is at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/get-cfr.cgi?TITLE=29&PART=1910&SECTION=141&TYPE=TEXT.
Question 2: Are there any circumstances in which an employer could regulate restroom usage? Is the restroom allowed to be locked, thus requiring an employee to ask or to sign out a key in order to use the restroom?
Response: OSHA addressed the issue of employee access to toilet facilities in a memorandum to OSHA's Regional Administrators dated April 6, 1998. This memorandum is a public document and a copy is enclosed. In addition, the Agency also addressed this issue in a letter dated April 23, 2003, to Professor Marc Linder at the University of Iowa; a copy of that letter is also enclosed.
Memoranda and letters interpreting OSHA's sanitation standard may be accessed on the Internet through OSHA's website at www.osha.gov. When on the website click on "I" in the alphabet at the top of the page, then click on "Interpretations of OSHA Standards." When the next page comes up, type "1910.141" in the Text Search box and click on the search button.
If an employer puts any restrictions on employee access to toilet facilities, such as locking the doors and requiring the employees to ask and sign out a key, the restriction must be reasonable, and may not cause extended delays. If OSHA were to receive a complaint concerning such a restriction, the Agency would evaluate the situation on a case by case basis to examine the nature of the restriction, including the length of time that employees are required to delay bathroom use, and the employer's explanation for the restriction. The enclosed memorandum and letter provide additional guidance.
If you wish to discuss your situation or file a complaint with your local OSHA office, you may contact the following:
John Tomich, Area Director
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
401 New Karner Rd, Suite 300
Albany, NY 12205-3809
Telephone: (518) 464-4338
Fax: (518) 464-4337
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. 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 www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs