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By:  Ron Parker STS, CHST

Drinking water on a construction site is essential.  An adequate amount of potable water shall be provided.  It is important to specifically pick the source from where water is obtained, who obtains the water and how the water is obtained and distributed.  If done otherwise, this can lead to water being contaminated which can lead to sickness within the work force.

It is recommended to research information concerning drinking water on the job site.  The sources of information are the CFR 1926, 29 CFR PART 1910 or the EM 385-1-1.  Each reference will have a section entitled “sanitation”.  To ensure proper dissemination of drinking water on a job site I have developed a plan which I feel will guide you through a workable program.  I will share this plan.  You can adopt it as is or modify it to suit your needs, however, a plan is needed.



To provide all employees with sanitary drinking water, containers and individual drinking cups.  Ice can be served when feasible.   Ensure that drinking water is provided in accordance with local, state and federal requirements.  Provide guidelines for the cleaning of containers and dissemination of potable water.



All containers shall be legibly marked “DRINKING WATER” and used for no other purpose.  The date the containers are cleaned, disinfected and filled shall also be visibly marked as well as the initials of the person/s performing the tasks.  If additives such as Gatorade are added to the water, the container shall be labeled as such.  If emergencies arise, for example eyes need to be flushed and water from the drinking water container is used, the container shall immediately be taken out of service, cleaned and disinfected prior to being refilled and put back into service.



Each drinking water container should have a cup dispenser attached or in plain view of the container.  The cup dispenser should be constructed to keep the cups clean and free from contamination.  Cups shall not be used by more than one person, no community cups allowed.  A trash container shall be provided for discarded cups.



Personnel assigned the tasks of emptying, cleaning, disinfecting and filling the drinking water containers shall, at least once per week be inspected by the site safety manager.  This inspection shall be recorded and kept on file at the safety office.  This inspection should consist of a visual check for open wounds, severe coughing and/or sneezing and for flu like symptoms.  Any employee who shows any of these symptoms shall not, by the discretion of the safety manager, be allowed to perform the tasks mentioned above.
Personnel assigned to perform these tasks stated above shall daily, prior to the start of their duties, ensure that their finger nails are clean and scrub their hands and arms with soap and water.  Employees performing these tasks will be trained in the above mentioned procedures with documentation kept on file at the safety office.



Personnel assigned to clean, disinfect and fill drinking water containers shall wear clothes according to the work site dress code.  Each employee shall wear a clean pair of disposable latex gloves.  Rubber boots and an apron are optional.
When lifting or transporting the containers the use of dollies or carts should be used.  Proper lifting techniques shall be used at all times.



All areas where drinking water containers are cleaned, disinfected and filled and where ice is stored shall be kept clean and sanitary.  Good housekeeping must be adhered to at all times.

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