General Requirements for Sanitation

PDF Version

29 CFR 1910.141

This OSHA standard describes requirements for waste disposal, water supply, toilet facilities, washing facilities, change rooms, clothes drying facilities, and consumption and handling of food and beverages. 

Waste Disposal:

Waste containers should be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition and should not leak.  These containers should be covered unless they can be kept sanitary without covers.

All solid and liquid waste, swept clutter, refuse and garbage should be removed as often as necessary and in a way that does not create a health hazard.

Vermin Control:

All enclosed workplaces must be constructed, equipped and maintained (as much as is practicable) to prevent the entrance or housing of rodents, insects or any other vermin.  The employer is responsible for maintaining an effective extermination program if vermin are detected.

Water Supply:

All places of employment should be supplied with potable water for drinking, cooking, and/or cleaning (people, food, and cooking or eating utensils), and in personal service rooms.  Potable water is water that meets the U.S. Public Health Service drinking water standards, or is approved for drinking by state or local authorities.  The potable water dispensers should be kept in a sanitary condition and should be equipped with a closable tap.  Any non-potable water should be posted or marked indicating that it is not to be used for drinking, cooking or cleaning.  OSHA prohibits the use of open containers such as barrels, pails or tanks for drinking water.  OSHA also prohibits the use of common drinking cups or other utensils.

Any outlets for nonpotable water must be clearly marked that the water is unsafe and not fit for drinking, cooking or cleaning.  Any system used to carry nonpotable water must be designed to prevent the backflow of nonpotable water into the potable water system.

Toilet Facilities:

The number of water closets (toilets, not urinals) required by the standard depends upon the number of employees of each sex.  The standard gives Table J-1 as a guide:


Number of Employees of Each Sex

Minimum Number of Water Closets(1)

1 to 15


16 to 35


36 to 55


56 to 80


81 to 110


111 to 150


over 150


                        Footnote(1): Where toilet facilities will not be used by women, urinals may be provided instead of water closets, except that the number of water closets in such
                        cases shall not be reduced to less than  2/3  of the minimum specified.

                        Footnote(2):  One(1) additional fixture for each additional 40 employees.

If toilet rooms will be occupied by no more than one person at a time, can be locked from the inside and contain at least one water closet; then, separate toilet rooms for each sex need not be provided. 

Each water closet must occupy a separate compartment with a door and walls that are tall enough to guarantee privacy.

Washing Facilities:

All washing facilities shall be:

Shower facilities are regulated by this standard only if another standard requires their presence.  There should be at least one shower for each ten (10) employees required to shower during the same shift.  All showers shall be equipped with soap and hot and cold water which feeds a common discharge.  Employees should be provided with individual clean towels.

Change Rooms:

If employees are required to wear protective clothing due to the possibility of contamination with toxic materials, change rooms should be provided.  The change rooms must be equipped with storage facilities for street clothes and separate facilities to store protective clothing.

Clothes Drying Facilities:

If the employer provides work clothes and they become wet or are washed between shifts, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the clothing is dry before reuse.

Consumption of Food and Beverages on the Premises:

This section applies only if employees are allowed to eat and/or drink on the premises.  The employer should not allow employees to eat, drink or store food or beverages in toilet rooms or any area exposed to a toxic material.

Food waste disposal containers must be corrosion resistant and easily cleaned.  An appropriate number must be provided to encourage their use and not cause overfilling.  These containers must be emptied daily and kept in a clean and sanitary condition.  Covers should be provided unless sanitary conditions can be maintained without their use.

Food Handling:

When food service is provided, the food dispensed must be wholesome and free from spoilage.  It must also be processed, prepared, handled, and stored in a manner that will protect against contamination.