New Rules Require Wash Stations On Site

Contractors must provide wash facilities for employees at all job sites, not just sites with hazardous materials, according to a new amendment to the California Code of Regulations.

Previously, CAL OSHA required these facilities only for employees working with hazardous materials. The new requirement went into effect Feb. 5.

Contractors now must provide at least one wash station for every 20 employees, according to the amended regulation. This is the same ratio CAL OSHA requires for toilets at construction sites. Also, the stations must be in close proximity to a toilet so that workers have ready access.

According to the regulation, these wash stations must:

  • Be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • Have an adequate supply of water for effective washing.
  • Provide soap or other suitable cleaning agent.
  • Provide single-use towels or a warm-air blower.

The amended language includes two particular provisions for wash stations accompanying portable toilets.

These stations must:

  • Provide a sign or equivalent notice indicating that the water is intended for washing.
  • Be located outside the toilet area and not attached to it, except for worksites with fewer than five employees and only one toilet.

In these cases, the washing station is permitted inside the portable toilet. The only exception to the new requirements is for employees of mobile construction crews with ready transportation to a nearby toilet and washing facility.

Though most contractors will likely opt to rent or buy manufactured portable sinks, they are free to devise their own wash stations that comply with the new rules and other health and safety regulations. Employers do not need to build a shelter for the wash station unless the shelter is necessary to make the station accessible (if there are hazards overhead or inclement weather, for example).

Employers also should note that waterless hand sanitizers and moistened towelettes do not meet the new rule standards. The wash station must provide soap and water. The water must be drinkable. Wash stations at sites with hazardous waste must meet the same basic requirements for general sanitation, but also must provide special cleaning compounds when necessary.

Contractors should consult with the actual regulation text for full details. The amended regulation is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/OSHSB/washingfacilitiesapprvd.doc.