Rules and Regulations for Public Restrooms

Last updated on June 15th, 2020 at 06:45 am


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded to protect workers from unsafe working conditions. One of the workplace features that OSHA has established relates to regulations for employee bathrooms. If you fail to adhere to OSHA restroom laws, you may face fines or a lawsuit could be filed against your organization. When designing a new restroom, it’s important to follow OSHA rules from the very beginning of the process.

Are you new to OSHA bathroom laws? Now is the time to familiarize yourself so you can avoid violations. OSHA restroom regulations fall into a few broad categories, including availability, volume and allocation, hand-washing accommodations and layout.

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Availability is one of the top priorities when it comes to employee restrooms. OSHA requires employers to give workers easy access to bathrooms. OSHA also mandates that employers refrain from imposing unreasonable restrictions on restroom usage and avoid a setup that causes extended delays to restroom accessibility.

It’s important to take your employees’ needs into account in the context of availability. For example, workers with prostate or bladder problems and individuals with physical disabilities may need to use the bathroom more often than their coworkers, so you must plan accordingly.


OSHA has requirements for the volume of toilets an employer must provide. If your company employs 15 or fewer people, you’re only required to have one unisex bathroom that has a locking door. Companies with 150 or more employees must have at least six available toilets. You must also add one toilet for every additional 40 employees you hire.

Employers that have 15 or fewer employees do not need to segregate bathrooms between genders. Companies that have more employees must designate their bathrooms as being available for males or females, unless the restrooms can only accommodate one person and the doors can be locked from the inside.


Every employee bathroom must have running water, soap and a means for people to dry their hands, such as towels or dryers. OSHA requires employers to keep the hand-washing stations in their restrooms clean and in good working order.


The layout of an employee bathroom must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and satisfy OSHA’s requirements. In bathrooms with multiple toilets, OSHA requires each toilet to be in an individual compartment made with partitions that are sufficiently high to ensure privacy.

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your restrooms comply with ADA guidelines. It’s worth revisiting ADA official documents from time to time especially if you plan on undergoing a public bathroom remodel project or your commercial space is somewhat dated. Making sure your employees have access to restrooms with enough room for wheelchairs and walking devices will help you stay up to code.


As a rule of thumb, wheelchair accessible bathroom compartments must have an out-swinging door. However, this entry has to leave a 30-inch by 48-inch rectangular path to the nearest sink. If the door interferes with this space, ADA guidelines consider this insufficient for safe navigation.

ADA-compliant restrooms feature an offset toilet with the center sitting 16 inches to 18 inches from the closest wall or partition. These compartments require the toilet to stand 17 to 19 inches off the finished floor and have grab bars available. For a closer look at what makes a stall wheelchair accessible, review the following:

  • Grab bars must be present behind the toilet and along the side of the partition.
  • Grab bars need to be a minimum of 36 inches long and 33-36 inches off the ground.
  • Stall widths must be no less than 60 inches wide.
  • Wall-mounted toilet stalls should have a 56-inch minimum depth.
  • Floor-mounted toilet stalls need to have a 59-inch minimum depth.


Standard restroom stalls are smaller in width and should be installed in rooms with six or more toilets. Similar to wheelchair accessible styles, compartments need to have a swinging door, horizontal grab bars and identical toilet heights. The main difference is toilets in a standard stall have to be centered rather than offset.

Standard walk-in configurations are categorized by the details below:

  • 36-inch minimum stall width
  • 60-inch minimum stall length
  • 15 inches of room between the toilet and wall partition


As long as you balance OSHA regulations and ADA measurement guidelines, there is flexibility with your restroom floor plan. It’s important to work with a partition installer that knows how to secure panels and hardware so that toilets, sinks and hand dryers remain accessible at all times. Consider the following when drawing up the design for your commercial restrooms:

  • Place wheelchair accessible stalls at the end of the row.
  • Ensure stall doors cannot interfere with the next compartment down.
  • Have standard doors swing inward, while wheelchair-accessible doors swing outward.


Routine cleaning and maintenance is a major part of running a business. You can stay up to date with the latest codes and regulations of your industry by installing partitions constructed with materials for privacy. The partition materials below are acceptable for use within a commercial setting:

  • Powder-Coated Steel: Powder-coated steel is a cost-friendly partition option that resists corrosion.
  • Laminate: Laminate partitions are easily customizable with their numerous color choices.
  • Plastic: Solid plastic partitions are resistant to moisture and are excellent for humid environments.
  • Phenolic: These partitions are manufactured with a phenolic resin coating for durability.
  • Stainless Steel: This option stands strong against rust and scratches.


If you need to create a bathroom layout that adheres to OSHA restroom rules, we can help. Our wide variety of products includes partitions in laminate, powder-coated steel, solid plastic or stainless steel as well as a variety of colors.

One Point Partitions can provide a complimentary design consultation, and we’ll even send you a free mock-up of your approved design. When you’re ready to install bathroom partitions that are both ADA and OSHA compliant, we’ll ship the supplies you need to your location at no additional charge. Complete our form online for your free quote today!

Andy Hughes

Andy started One Point Partitions with his brother Jason Hughes. Andy has been here since 2006 and is always striving for easier better ways to provide partitions. Andy graduated from Iowa State University and has been in construction and product sales for much of his career. He spends his free time fishing and traveling....but mostly fishing. And fishing some more. Give him a shout today!