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Water and Bathroom Responsibilities

Can a business open without water or toilets?

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes standards for employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful working conditions.

OSHA covers most private sector employers and workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. jurisdictions either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state plan. Federal workers are also covered under OSHA as well as most state and local government workers.

Under OSHA’s general standards, potable water must be provided at all places of employment in amounts that are adequate to meet the health and personal needs of each employee. Potable water means water that is safe from toxins and meets the standard for drinking purposes set forth by state and/or municipality regulations.

There is no requirement for water to be bottled or even from a water fountain. Tap water from a sink, as long as it meets the standards for drinking, meets OSHA’s requirements for most industries. Portable containers that carry water are also permitted as long as they’re appropriately marked, tightly closed, and have a tap for dispensing the water.

There is no specific guidance on how much water must be provided to employees. Thus, it’s up to employers to consider workplace conditions and determine the appropriate quantity. Employers must keep in mind the purpose of providing water is to maintain the well-being of employees (i.e. prevent dehydration). Thus, it’s important to provide adequate drinking water to employees.

OSHA also requires employers to make bathrooms readily accessible and available for employees. Toilet facilities, either fixed or portable, must be operational. Toilet paper and appropriate hand washing facilities must also be provided.

Without appropriate water and toilet facilities, the employer risks creating a health hazard and violating OSHA standards.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 25th, 2016 at 2:02 pm and is filed under
Workplace Health & Safety.
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