Portable sanitation equipment plays an integral role in GAP compliance. Portable toilets and sinks greatly reduce the chances of crop contamination caused by unhygienic human actions. In addition, having amenities in close proximity to fields provides convenience for workers and reduces downtime because workers don’t have to take lengthy breaks to travel to restroom facilities.
Something to keep in mind about portable units is that they do require both initial and ongoing attention to be functional and in compliance. It’s not as simple as unloading units from the delivery truck, placing them next to the field, and forgetting them. This article contains information about how to prepare portable sanitation equipment for first use on the farm.
Read the Owner’s Manual
Upon receiving your portable sanitation equipment, the first thing you should do is read the owner’s manual. This is especially true if your toilet or sink didn’t arrive pre-assembled. The directions provided in the owner’s manual will help you assemble equipment properly so that it functions as intended by the manufacturer. The manual will also help you familiarize yourself with the unit so that you understand how everything works. This is important because you need to be able to instruct employees about proper use of the equipment as part of your employee hygiene training program.
Clean Equipment & Stock It with Supplies
Once your portable sanitation equipment is assembled, it’s recommended that you clean it with soap and water or a chlorine bleach solution. Even though the equipment is new, it could have accumulated dirt and other contaminants during the manufacturing or shipping processes. In a business like agriculture where consumer safety is a top priority, it’s better to take precautionary measures than leave it to chance. For an in-depth look at the cleaning process, read our article Cleaning & Storage Procedures for Your Portable Toilets & Sinks.
Once the units are clean, you’ve got to get supplies including toilet paper, soap, and paper towels. You also must fill up the sink with potable handwashing water. There needs to be enough of each supply to get all workers who will be using the equipment through the work day. In many cases, the owner’s manual will provide a list of recommended supplies and filling instructions if you are unsure about what you need or how to properly stock dispensers.
Transport & Place Units
As previously mentioned, portable sanitation equipment needs to be placed near workers. The GAP best practice is for units to be located within a quarter mile or a 5-minute walk from workers. However, be mindful of crop safety when transporting and placing units. They should be located far enough away from crops that in the event of a spill or leak the crops aren’t at risk of contamination. In addition, units should be placed on level ground that is easily accessible for pumper trucks to provide service. To learn more about the specifics of transporting equipment, read our article Safely Move Portable Toilets & Sinks.
Develop a Crisis Management Plan
Once the previously listed procedures have been accomplished, your portable toilets and sinks are ready for first use. However, there’s one last thing you should do: put a crisis management plan in place to address leaks or spills. Accidents happen and can affect even new equipment that has been serviced and placed appropriately. In order to keep crops safe and address issues efficiently, there should be a written plan readily available to help employees and responders get things cleaned up efficiently. Procedures typically include:
- Marking off the contaminated area with tape, string, or similar perimeter material
- Keeping unneeded people out of the contaminated area
- Keeping people assisting with the cleanup away from uncontaminated crops
- Disposing of any contaminated produce immediately
- Disinfecting any affected equipment with cleaning agents before it is used again
Helpful Resources for Farmers
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