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Down and Dirty: OSHA and Structured Sanitation in the Workplace

Michael Wilson | Feb 13, 2017

Sanitation generally refers to practices that prevent humans from coming into contact with agents of disease, such as agricultural waste, industrial waste and wastewater. These ...

structured sanitation

Sanitation generally refers to practices that prevent humans from coming into contact with agents of disease, such as agricultural waste, industrial waste and wastewater. These practices require supply chain solutions that allow hygienic practices such as soap and septic tanks. Sanitation also includes engineering solutions such as the treatment of wastewater and sewage. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded in 1971 to ensure safe working conditions in the United States for all workers. OSHA provides specific sanitation guidelines for facilities management. Here are some of the structured sanitation requirements under OSHA regulations.

 1. Housekeeping

Housekeeping requirements under OSHA generally mean that employers must keep the work place clean to the extent that the work allows. They must also keep the walking surfaces dry as much as is practical and provide dry standing surfaces such as platforms and mats in places where wet processes take place. These working conditions also require supply chain solutions that provide employees with waterproof footwear. Doors and passageways must be clear of hazards such as protruding nails and loose boards.

2. Water Supply

Employers must provide potable water in the workplace as needed for cooking, drinking and washing. Supply chain solutions must provide water dispensers that have a tap and are capable of being closed. OSHA prohibits the use of open containers such as pails and barrels for the use of drinking water, even if they have a cover. Eating and drinking utensils such as drinking cups are also prohibited, and sources of non-potable water must clearly indicate that the water is unsafe for drinking. This non-potable water should not be used for washing or cooking, but may be used to clean the premises if it does not contain any unsanitary substances. Further, nonpotable water systems should not backflow into potable water systems.

3. Toilet Facilities

Employers must provide toilet facilities according to the number and gender of workers in that area. If a toilet facility only accommodates one person at a time, can be locked from the inside, and contains at least one toilet, separate toilet facilities for both genders need not be provided. Each water closet should provide enough privacy with doors and walls for users. Additionally, if toilet facilities are to be used only by men, urinals may be provided instead of toilets. OSHA also specifies the minimum number of toilet facilities in the workplace according to the number of workers. For example, an area with no more than 15 workers only requires one toilet facility. A minimum of six facilities are required for up to 150 workers and one additional facility is needed for every 40 additional workers. The disposal of sewage from these facilities must not endanger employees’ health.

4. Washing Facilities

All places of employment require lavatories unless they are staffed by mobile crews or if workers at those locations have transportation available to nearby lavatories that meet OSHA requirements. Lavatories must have tepid or hot running water, as well as janitorial products such as hand soap, and individual hand towels or air blowers. Workplaces that require showers must have hot and cold water that feed into a common discharge line. These rules do not apply to mobile crews if they have transportation to nearby washing facilities available.

5. Vermin Control

Workplaces should be constructed, equipped, and maintained properly to prevent rodents, insects, or other creatures from entering or dwelling on the premises. An extermination program must be instituted if there is an infestation of the premises.

6. Change Rooms

Change rooms are an OSHA workplace requirement when OSHA standards require workers to wear protective clothing for protection against toxic materials. The storage facilities for the workers' street clothes must be separated from the facilities used to store protective clothing

7. Clothes Drying Facilities 

Employers must wash and dry work clothes between shifts in cases where OSHA regulations require such clothing. Employers who allow employees to consume food and beverages on the premises may not allow employees to eat or drink in areas with exposure to toxic materials or in toilet facilities.

8. Waste Disposal Containers

OSHA requires employers to provide waste receptacles for the disposal of food. These receptacles may be sustainable building products, but permanent receptacles must be smooth, easily cleaned and resistant to corrosion. OSHA does not specify the number and location of waste receptacles, so long as they do not become overfilled and their use is encouraged. Employers must ensure that waste receptacles are emptied at least once each day and maintained in a sanitary condition. These receptacles must also have a solid cover that fits tightly over the receptacle if needed to maintain sanitary conditions.

9. Food Storage

Food and beverages may not be stored in areas exposed to toxic materials or in toilet facilities. Employees who perform food service operations must use janitorial supplies to ensure that the food is wholesome and free of spoilage. They must also prepare and handle the food in a manner that protects it from contamination.

Keeping Your Supply Chain in Compliance

OSHA has established extensive regulations regarding structured sanitation in the workplace, which specify the use of many cleaning supplies and other janitorial products. Staff members who perform facilities management will need to be familiar with these regulations in order to remain in compliance with OSHA regulations. Managers looking for facility solutions should also consider the use of green cleaning supplies that don't damage the environment. To stay in compliance with these regulations hassle-free, you may use the service of a Group Purchasing Organization that offers supply chain consulting services. These organizations will help you purchase your supplies in accordance with OSHA regulations, at the best cost with no inconvenience.

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Editor's Note: This blog was originally published March 17, 2014 and has since been updated and expanded upon with new information. 

 

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