There is nothing more important to us than your health, safety and well-being.
Membership in IBEW 213 means you earn a livable wage, have a robust benefit plan and can access services like individual and family counselling when you need to. It means that you are building a pension to help sustain the lifestyle you desire in retirement. And it also means you have a staunch and committed advocate representing your interests within our industry.
That’s why we have launched a campaign to correct a glaring shortcoming in B.C.’s existing health and safety regulations, and that is the accepted sanitation practices in the construction industry. We are calling on the occupational health and safety regulators at WorkSafeBC to support flush toilets on construction sites.
You can read our report to WorkSafeBC here: getflushed.ca/public/report.pdf
For too long, construction workers have been forced to use poorly maintained and poorly supplied portable toilets and inadequate washing facilities. It’s become an accepted aspect of working in our industry.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the need for our regulators to protect the health and safety of the people doing the essential work of building and maintaining our province, is has demonstrated that the industry itself can change, can do better, and can keep workers safe.
In B.C., regulations already require that workers must have access to plumbed washrooms, and that they must be kept in clean and sanitary condition, except when plumbed facilities cannot be provided “because of the nature of the workplace.” Given the widespread availability and cost-effectiveness of trailered, plumbed washrooms, and the health and hygiene risks associated with portable toilets, we believe that employers should not be automatically exempted from providing plumbed washrooms just because the workplace is a construction site.
Add your voice to the campaign by visiting GetFlushed.ca.
You deserve better.
Get the FAQs
Are flush toilets required on construction sites?
YES! The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires flush toilets in every workplace, except in cases where the “nature of the workplace” does not allow for plumbed toilets, or it isn’t “practical” to provide them. Industry has been using this exception as a loophole, to the detriment of thousands of B.C. construction workers.
Aren’t flush toilets really expensive?
NO! Occupational health and safety guidelines have not been updated in more than 16 years, and do not take into account the increased availability and economy of flush toilets, such as those commonly used at public events. Flush toilets cost approximately $1 per day per worker.
Why are flush toilets better than porta-potties?
Flush toilet units provide hand-washing facilities with hot and cold running water, and they are properly and consistently cleaned under a servicing agreement. This is important all the time but especially during a pandemic when regular handwashing is even more important. Portable flush toilets are also illuminated so that even in the dark, workers can see what they’re doing. Remember, construction workers start their shifts early, which means it’s often dark for them during the fall and winter months.
How are porta-potties cleaned and serviced now?
Servicing porta-potties involves pumping out the holding tank with a hose inserted into the tank from inside the washroom. Once the tank is empty, the hose is removed and any residual waste from the hose may drip inside the facility. That waste is then removed when the unit is sprayed down with a cleaner, and then sprayed again with water. The facility is left saturated until the water evaporates, which could take several hours in the winter months, forcing workers to use a wet facility.
What are the COVID-19 protocols for porta-potties?
Health Canada, the BC Centre for Disease Control and WorkSafeBC all recommend that washroom facilities are cleaned periodically throughout the workday and again at the end of the workday. This does not happen where porta-potties are concerned.
Isn’t hand sanitizer just as good as soap and water?
Absolutely not! Hand sanitizer is an option, but running water is the most effective for disease prevention. The BC Centre for Disease Control notes that washing with soap and hot water for an appropriate length of time is the most effective for destroying viruses.
What sort of risks are associated with porta-potties?
There are recognized biological hazards associated with poor hygiene practices, including COVID-19, Hepatitis A and other viruses. Porta-potties are unheated, diminishing the efficacy of most disinfectants, which are designed for use at room temperature.
The regulations are on the books, so what is WorkSafeBC’s role?
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation contains legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the inspectional jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC, which is responsible for compliance and enforcement. The purpose of the regulation is to promote occupational health and safety and to protect workers and other persons present at workplaces from work-related risks to their health, safety, and well-being.