New provisions for employee washing stations in the construction industry take effect February 5, 2003

Starting February 5, 2003, employers in the construction industry will be required to provide washing facilities for their employees for the purpose of general sanitation.

Until recently, Section 1527 in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations only required provision of washing facilities in construction for employees who were working with hazardous materials. However, Section 1527 has been amended to require provision of washing stations for all construction employees. Washing stations must br provided so that there is a minimum of one washing station for each twenty employees or fraction thereof.

This is the same ratio as that required for provision of toilets in construction as required by Title 8 Section 1526. The amended regulation adopted by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board can be viewed at The basic requirements for washing stations for general sanitation and for hazardous materials in the construction industry are that they:

  • Be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • Have an adequate supply of water for effective washing.
  • Provide soap or other suitable cleansing agent.
  • Provide single-use towels or a warm-air blower.
  • The washing station must be located so that any time a toilet is used the user can readily wash.

    The amended rule includes special provisions when washing stations are provided in association with portable toilets. These are:

  • Provide a sign or equivalent notice indicating that the water is intended for washing.
  • Locate the washing station outside of the toilet facility and not attached to it, except on worksites where there are less than 5 employees and only one toilet facility is provided, in which case the washing station may be located inside of the portable toilet room.
  • The only general exception to the new rules are for employees of mobile crews with readily available transportation to a nearby toilet and washing facility.

    It is anticipated that many construction employers will choose to rent or buy manufactured portable sinks such as those frequently seen at large public events. However, employers are free to use washing stations of their own design provided they comply with the provisions of the new rule and other applicable health and safety regulations. Employers are not required to construct a shelter for the washing station unless this is necessary to assure its actual availability to users, for example in the event of inclement weather or hazards overhead,

    It is important to note that waterless hand cleaners/sanitizers and moistened towlettes (baby wipes) may be used, but they are not a substitute for the required washing station. The washing station must provide soap and water and, in accordance with Title 8 Section 1524, nonpotable water may not be used for washing.

    Washing facilities for removal of hazardous substances must meet the same basic requirements as those for general sanitation and, where necessary, provide special cleansing compounds. The text of the regulation should be consulted for full details at

    Assistance with questions about this and other Cal/OSHA regulations is available from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service. The Consultation Service can be reached toll-free for assistance at 1(800) 963-9424. You can also e-mail questions to