Running Your Business

A Guide to the New CDC and OSHA Restroom Requirements and Sanitization Standards

  • As offices reopen around the country, employers will need to ramp up their restroom cleaning and sanitization efforts

  • New CDC and OSHA restroom requirements offer helpful guidance for employers on how to properly clean and disinfect shared spaces

  • The guidelines also offer best practices on what to do after an employee comes to work sick

Posted by September 27, 2020

With workplaces reopening in many parts of the country, new office cleaning standards have been implemented to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration already changed the landscape of office sanitization with its OSHA restroom requirements, but it’s taking things up a notch with its COVID-19 standards.

Along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OSHA developed this new guideline for restroom sanitization based on the traditional ways infections spread as well as good industrial restroom hygiene practices. While similar to cold and flu season guidelines, the COVID-19 guidance calls for ramped-up precautionary measures from employers, such as:

  • More frequent cleanings and more thorough disinfecting of touch surfaces in restrooms.
  • Closing, ventilating and disinfecting restrooms after employees with COVID-19 use these spaces.

As an employer, you can use this guideline to help ensure your restrooms are safe for everyone, from employees to office guests. You might need to take additional measures as the virus is better understood, but here’s how you can begin planning and implementing safe restroom practices at your workplace.

Up Cleaning Efforts When Employees Are Sick

According to the CDC, it’s especially important to take extra cleaning precautions around the office and restrooms if you’ve had sick employees. They might not all be feasible, especially if you only have one restroom, but here are some of their suggestions:

  • Close off areas that sick employees have used.
  • Open windows and circulate air for 24 hours.
  • Wait 24 hours to clean and disinfect bathrooms.
  • Reopen bathrooms after thorough cleaning and disinfection.

Stock Bathrooms With Essential Supplies

Under the CDC and OSHA restroom requirements, employers should encourage and participate in frequent hand-washing and hand-sanitizing. To further curb the spread of COVID-19, the guidance recommends that all workplace restrooms include:

  • Tissues and paper towels.
  • No-touch trash receptacles.
  • Hand soap and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Hand-washing signs.

Review Your Standards of Cleanliness

According to the CDC, more frequent and thorough cleaning might be necessary for businesses that are open to the public or have employees on the premises. This means your normal standards for cleanliness may no longer cut it. At a minimum, you’ll want to ensure these tasks are being regularly performed:

  • Shared surfaces are cleaned with soap and water, then disinfected to kill germs.
  • Restrooms are being cleaned and disinfected, ideally on a daily basis.
  • High-touch surfaces, such as door handles, stall handles, toilet handles and seats, sink bases and faucets, counters and light switches, are cleaned thoroughly.
  • Floors are swept, mopped and disinfected.

If you employ a cleaning company, it’s critical to make sure they follow these restroom protocols. Additionally, keep employees abreast of the elevated restroom cleaning policies and need for continued hand-washing, hand-sanitizing and good hygiene measures. Relay how these simple workplace efforts can help minimize the risk of COVID-19 spreading through your office.

Restrooms have always been germy places. To reduce customers’ and employees’ risk of contracting COVID-19, you’ll need to up your bathroom disinfection and cleaning efforts. By following these CDC and OSHA restroom requirements, you can help better protect everyone who enters your workplace during the pandemic.

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