What Does OSHA Say About Workplace Sanitation?

Posted August 27, 2014

As we’ve discussed in our previous posts this month, the workplace is full of many health and safety hazards.  Because of this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded in 1971 to help ensure safe working conditions for all workers in the United States.  Under the OSHA standards, employees have the right to a sanitary work environment.   Sanitation refers to the practices that prevent workers from coming into contact with agents of disease, such as agricultural waste, industrial waste and wastewater.

Employers that fail to comply with sanitation standards may be subjects to a range of sanctions, including the administrative assessment of civil money penalties and or civil or criminal legal action.

Does Your Organization Comply with these
5 Key Sanitation Requirements under OSHA Regulation?



All places of employment must be kept clean to the extent that the nature of the work allows. The floor of every workroom should be maintained, so far as practicable, in a dry condition. Anywhere wet processes are used, drainage must be maintained and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided, or appropriate waterproof footgear must be worn. Doors and passageways must be kept free from hazards such as protruding nails or loose boards.

Water Supply

The employer must provide portable water in the workplace as needed for cooking, drinking, and washing. Water dispensers must be designed so that they have a tap that is capable of being closed. Open containers such as barrels, pails, or tanks for drinking water from which the water must be dipped or poured are prohibited. Sources of non-potable water must clearly state that the water is unsafe for drinking.

Restroom and Washroom Facilities

Employers must provide toilets for employees according to the number and gender of workers. Urinals are only permitted in areas that don’t have female workers and separate facilities for each gender are not required when the toilet room can be locked from the inside.

OSHA also outlines the minimum number of restrooms the workplace must have according to the number of workers. For example, an area with no more than 15 workers only requires one restroom facility. A minimum of six facilities are required for up to 150 workers and one additional facility is needed for every 40 additional workers over that 150. Each restroom must occupy a separate compartment with a door and walls or partitions between fixtures sufficiently high to assure privacy.

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. In workplaces that require showers, showers must be provided with hot and cold water feeding a common discharge line.

Waste Disposal

Employers must provide waste cans for the disposal of food. Permanent trash bins must be smooth, easily cleaned and resistant to corrosion. The receptacles must have a solid cover that fits tightly if needed to maintain sanitary conditions. OSHA does not specify the number and location of waste receptacles.

Food Storage

Food and beverages are not to be stored in areas exposed to toxic materials or in toilet facilities. Food must be handled and prepared carefully to protect it from contamination.
By following these steps and staying up to date with the latest OSHA regulations, you’ll provide a sanitary, productive workplace.

By following these steps and staying up to date with the latest OSHA regulations, you’ll provide a sanitary, productive workplace.

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