Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 29: Access to safe water and toilets

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 29: Access to safe water and toilets


In this chapter:

To stay healthy, you need to drink plenty of clean water and use the toilet when necessary. You need to be able to wash your hands with clean water and soap. Clean, safe water is necessary for emergency showers and eye washes.

Bosses often deny workers these basic necessities as they pressure employees to work faster and take fewer breaks. Limiting access to water and toilets is one way bosses make workers sick. A factory must:

  • provide safe drinking water for all workers near their work areas. Allow workers to drink as much and as often as needed.
  • allow all workers to use the toilet as needed. You should not have to ask permission, get a pass, or explain why you are going to the toilet. Like breathing, it is a necessary human function.
  • add more toilets and urinals so workers do not have to wait in line. It is also easier to keep toilets clean when fewer people use each one.
  • make sure each toilet room and stall has a door for privacy.
  • place sinks or wash basins with soap and towels around the factory near toilets, drinking water, and eating areas.
  • keep toilet rooms supplied with toilet paper, soap, and clean towels.
  • keep a supply of pads for monthly bleeding in the women’s toilet rooms. Women workers can also make a shared space for sanitary supplies where they can contribute supplies and replace what they use.
  • hire workers to maintain and clean toilets.