Agricultural field sanitation requirements in Michigan

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.      

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has updated enforcement procedures for field sanitation standards in 2008. Inspections may be based on complaints or referrals, as well as, programmed inspections, which are conducted by MIOSHA personnel as time permits where they see hand-labor operations in the field.

Drinking water

Clean and safe potable water must be readily accessible to all employees. Heat-related illness can be reduced or prevented by drinking enough water and taking other precautions, including suitable clothing. Farm workers experience the highest risk of heat-related illness of all occupations.

Where 11 or more employees have worked on any day during the last 12 months, the water must also be suitably cool for the temperature conditions and dispensed by single-use cups or by fountains.

Toilet and hand washing facilities

Toilet and hand washing facilities must be provided whenever work time plus transportation time to and from the field exceeds three hours. One toilet and hand washing facility shall be provided for each 20 employees or fraction thereof. The facilities shall be located together and as close as practical to the work location.

For small operations, where the 11 or more employees rule does not apply, the facilities must be either provided as above or available to employees by using employer furnished transportation.

Employees must be given reasonable opportunity to use these facilities. Toilets shall be ventilated and screened, have self-closing doors lockable from the inside, and constructed to ensure privacy. Toilets shall be operational and include an adequate supply of toilet paper. Hand washing facilities must have an adequate supply of potable water, soap, and single-use towels.

All facilities must be maintained in clean and sanitary conditions and waste shall be disposed in a sanitary manner. Where the 11 or more employees rule does apply, employers must inform all employees about the importance of good hygiene practices to minimize adverse health effects.

More information is available at, and by calling the MIOSHA General Industry Safety and Health Division at 517-322-1831 or the district supervisor at 616-447-2650. Free consultation and compliance assistance is available through the MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training Division (CET) by calling the Lansing office at 800-866-4674. CET publications can be accessed at,1607,7-154-11407_30453—-,00.html.

To read Dr. Bitsch’s complete newsletter go to her website at Under “News” click on “Agricultural Field Sanitation” or click on “Agricultural Labor Issues in Michigan” for a list of available newsletters. Please remember that these newsletters serve educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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