Friday, June 12, 2009


I was at a training session recently, and the discussion turned to bathroom facilities.

Various people with some knowledge of OSHA regulations insisted that you had to have two bathroom facilities for men and women. I said, “sounds good – that means I can insist the project manager pony up for two porta-potties!”

But what they meant was that you had to have separate facilities for men and women. I guess you’re supposed to write “men” on one and “women” on the other and enforce a rigorous separation.

The fact is, men and women share a bathroom all the time. They’re called unisex bathrooms. It’s not like you’re actually in the bathroom at the same time as the guys, since they’ve got only one toilet and a locking door.

Also, porta potties are different from regular bathrooms in that they have a limited lifespan. If you have one woman using one porta potty and thirty men using another (a gender ratio I have come across on certain large field projects), the mens’ porta potties will fill up exponentially faster. And no matter how much you write “men” or “ladies” on the door, once you have, um, filled porta potties, people are going to start using the one that isn’t disgusting.

I haven’t seen any field sites where the porta potties are kept separated by gender. Is this actually done?

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I don't have any field sites that require long durations at a time, but I've been at rugby tournaments where porta-pots have been labeled men and women and yes-that didn't last long.
I also realized that in my office building (we share with another company) that they women's restroom is also not only for women-since there are two women in the building. I was also peeved to see a man coming out of the women's bathroom and then realizing it smelled. They are single occupancy rooms but I just wished they take the signs off.