Encourage proper toilet use with a clean portable toilet

A farmworker who has a choice between a poorly kept toilet and voiding in the field may choose the field, despite what they were taught at worker training. The best way to encourage proper use is to keep portable toilets clean and well stocked.

A portable toilet is surrounded by dirt and is constantly having this dirt and mud tracked into it. As such, a perfectly spotless portable toilet should not be the goal of any grower. A more realistic goal is a toilet maintained as a sanitary place to use. The first step should be to visually inspect the condition of the toilet. The level of soiling will dictate the level of cleaning required.

First use soap and water to remove visible filth on all surfaces. A dedicated scrub brush can help speed this process along. Rinse the soapy filth away with water to ensure a clean surface.              

After all visible filth is removed, it is important to check the status of toilet paper in the dispenser. If supplies are low or wet from cleaning, they will need to be refilled. At this time, note whether the portable toilet needs to be pumped. If it does, either call the servicing company or plan on pumping the toilet prior to the next cleaning.

Next, spray down all surfaces that make human contact with sanitizer. The easiest and cheapest way to achieve this is to maintain a backpack sprayer with 10% bleach solution and simply spray these areas down after cleaning them.

Finally record the date and time of the cleaning as well as the person who cleaned the toilet. This type of cleaning should take place at least once a day. During peak usage it may be required more often. Also make sure it gets pumped at least weekly and more often when it is used more frequently.

Growers with specific questions about sanitation units or who have difficulty finding one for their farm are welcome to contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at gaps@msu.edu or (517) 788-4292. To obtain a cleaning record for your sanitation units, ask for guidance document AFSM013-02.

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