We are presently in the process of eliminating our spring water coolers in favor of more cost effective “city water” water coolers. We presently have about 12 spring water coolers in the plant but it is getting cost prohibitive due to fuel surcharges placed on every delivery. My question is how many water coolers are we mandated to install? We employ 140 people on 3 shifts.Our main problem is that for every cooler we install we require a drain to the sanitary sewer line and we only have access to 4 or 5 tie in points without MAJOR excavation.
OSHA standards for general industry specify exactly how many toilets are required, but not the exact number of drinking fountains. OSHA CFR 1910.141 simply specifies that employers will furnish potable (drinkable) water for workers, that the water cannot be in an open container and that employees cannot be required to use a communal cup.
The exact number of water fountains required by OSHA will depend upon a number of factors: the maximum number of employees on any one shift, the building layout, and the working conditions. For example, an air condtioned factory would likely require fewer drinking fountains than one that was not air conditioned. Different standards also apply to specific industries, like construction.
The best bet in your case is to consult with OSHA before installing these drinking fountains or water coolers. OSHA offers consultative services where they will advise an employee on safety issues (like this one) without triggering an OSHA inspection. This is a free service, and a great opportunity to get their expert advice. You can find the number for your local OSHA office at www.osha.gov.
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