What steps do you take to keep your portable sanitation equipment in top condition? Proper care of units allows workers to maintain the highest levels of sanitation while working on the farm and extends the life of the units. Conversely, failure to care for equipment can lead to crop contamination, land or water pollution, or equipment damage that requires costly repairs or possibly even unit replacement.
Upkeep of portable toilets and sinks is essential during the planting and harvesting seasons, but it’s also important to protect them during periods of inactivity. Following recommended cleaning and storage procedures greatly reduces the odds that your portable units will cause a food safety problem or become damaged. Here are some things to add to your product care checklist:
Holding tanks should be pumped regularly during busy seasons and before being stored away for extended periods. Pumping of toilet tanks and sink wastewater tanks should occur before they approach full capacity to prevent overflows. You can pump units yourself if you have a registered pumper truck, or you can hire a pumping company to do it for you. Before pumping, toilets and sinks should be moved away from crops and irrigation sources to protect against contamination in the event of a leak or spill. Dispose of waste at an appropriate waste disposal facility in your area.
In addition to pumping, toilets and sinks should be cleaned inside and out on a regular basis when in season and before being stored. This includes emptying garbage containers and washing all areas of the equipment. This prevents dirt or microorganisms like bacteria and mold that can put human health at risk from accumulating on the units. It also eliminates unpleasant smells.
Luckily, the units of today are fairly convenient to clean. That’s because most newer portable sanitation equipment is manufactured with polyethylene, an easy-to-clean material. To clean units, all that’s needed is soap and water or a chlorine bleach solution. Cleaning can be done with a brush or a pressure washer. The areas to pay close attention to are tanks, toilet seats, urinals, sink bowls, and door handles. However, don’t forget to clean the soap and paper towel dispensers that people will be touching with their hands, as well as the wheels of units (if applicable) to keep them moving easily. Make sure units are able to fully dry to prevent the growth of mold or similar microorganisms.
Seal Openings When Not in Use
When putting units away at the end of the season, they should be made airtight and watertight after they’ve been pumped, cleaned, and dried. Failure to seal openings leaves the possibility that debris, birds, insects, rodents, or other small animals can enter the units and cause contamination and/or damage. The primary area to seal is the exterior vent stack of portable toilets. All fill and drain plugs or caps should be secured as well to keep small animals out. If this step is skipped, rodents can build nests or spiders can build webs in the lines, which is a problem when the time comes to fill tanks again.
Store in a Protected Area
When not in use, units should be stored in a clean and fully enclosed building whenever possible. This is particularly important in northern regions that experience freezing temperatures and snow or areas that experience regular rain or high winds. The best way to prevent product damage is to keep it out of the elements. If a storage building isn’t available, place units on high, level ground with protection from the wind to keep them from tipping over or becoming flooded. For added protection in cold climates, you can pump the lines of units with potable RV-type antifreeze.
Get More Information
Proper equipment cleaning and storage is just part of the GAP-compliance process. You can learn more about many of the GAP requirements by downloading a FREE copy of GAP Compliance Made Easy at AgSinksTB.com. You can also promote employee hygiene by requesting FREE Toilet & Handwashing Compliance Signs to post on your equipment.
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