OSHA Construction Site Drinking Water Requirements

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OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is part of the Department of Labor, and therefore publishes regulations and requirements for workplace environments. The Federal Regulations, contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), are not always specific, but they encourage each state to draft its own requirements within the framework established. This allows each state to mold its rules to local conditions and customs while meeting the spirit of the law. The regulations have one goal in mind: Reduce or eliminate heat-related injuries.

The Supply

The water supply may be as simple as a hose on the side of a house, or a portable tank with a spigot and pump, or an ice chest with bottled water. It must be clearly labeled as potable water, or nonpotable sources must be identified. The potable system must be sealed to remain sanitary.

Access

The drinking supply must be easily accessible by all employees. Communal cups or dipping ladles common in the Old West are prohibited. If anything is provided as a drinking utensil, it must be a single use disposable cup.

Amount

Washington state requires that an employer provide enough water so that each worker may drink one quart per hour for the entire shift. It is not necessary to have all the water on site at the beginning of the shift, but the water must be readily available. It must also be cool enough to drink on demand. Accessibility requirements mean that a multi-floor project should have a supply on each floor. There are also allowances for providing other beverages in individual containers.

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