Not really! Although businesses in the state of Florida are mandated to provide restroom facilities for their employees, have it in mind that not every business is required to allow customers to use these restrooms unless the business sells food or provides lodgings to the public.
In the state of Florida, businesses serving food to the public are expected to provide at least one bathroom that is accessible to the public. However, note that any business that decides to allow public access will need to ensure that the facility complies with local plumbing codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Note that mobile food dispensing vehicles are considered exempt from the bathroom requirement; however, public lodging establishments, such as apartments and other housing units rented to the public, are expected to provide at least one bathroom that will be accessible to the public.
Customers and employees must be able to access the bathroom without having to pass through food preparation, storage, or ware washing areas. Also, note that transient public lodging establishments in the state of Florida are mandated to provide a public restroom for every 15 guests on a given floor if private or connecting bathrooms between rooms are not available.
All businesses in Florida that provide restroom access to the public are expected to adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. ADA regulations note that there must be a cleared path to the restroom, at least 36 inches wide, to give room for a person in a wheelchair to pass.
In addition, restrooms in a business building are expected to be well covered and should have tight-fitting doors that close properly to guarantee privacy to users. For bathrooms outside a restaurant or at public lodging businesses, entrances and exits will have to be properly designed to promote occupants’ privacy.
A public bathroom’s fixtures will also need to be adequately designed to facilitate cleaning. Businesses are also expected to stock soap and clean towels or other approved hand-drying equipment for customer and employee use.
Rules and Regulations for Public Restrooms in Florida
In the state of Florida, public restroom laws leverage the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as the two primary regulators. To ensure that the design of your public restroom in Florida complies with all relevant rules, here is a simple breakdown to guide you through;
Enacted in 1970, OSHA works to guarantee that employers will provide all employees with safe and comfortable work conditions. It stipulates how to do this in several sectors, including accessibility to restrooms. Note that not adhering to OSHA regulations can lead to employees filing lawsuits against the employer, and this could warrant monetary damage to the business and also affect its reputation negatively.
- Accessible Restroom Locations
Toilet facilities for employees will have to be available to employees except for mobile work crews. Employees in mobile work crews will need to have transportation made available to toilet facilities “nearby.” Agricultural workers are also expected to have toilets and hand-washing facilities within a quarter-mile of the work site.
- Adding Reasonable Access Restrictions
Employees are permitted to add “reasonable” restrictions when it comes to restroom access. For instance, OSHA has concurred with managers that workers in assembly lines can impede the workflow when they unrestrictedly take rest breaks.
Owing to that, the employee will need to give “some sort of a signal” to ensure that another employee can replace him at the workstation. The employer will also need to make sure that relief workers are available. OSHA’s compliance officers are directed to extensively analyze employer restrictions on bathroom access on a case-by-case basis.
- Number of Toilets
Have in mind that the number of water closets required will depend on the number of employees at the site. At work sites with up to 15 employees, one water closet is the least expected to be provided. Note that the scale runs up to 150 workers and six fixtures. Aside from that, one fixture is required for every 40 employees.
- Rest Breaks for Safety
OSHA does not cover scheduled required employee rest breaks. However, depending on the industry, laws in the state of Florida may mandate employers to provide breaks to employees. Aside from that, the Americans With Disabilities Act directs the provision of additional or as-needed bathroom breaks as a reasonable accommodation for an employee who needs to use the facilities due to an injury, disability, or illness.
- Restroom Structure Requirements
Note that different facilities will have to be provided for each sex unless the toilet rooms themselves can be occupied by no more than one person and can be locked from the inside. Also, note that each water closet will need to be a separate compartment. Each will need to have a door and must be separated from the next by partitions.
- Sinks for Hand Washing
Hand-washing facilities are expected to be provided and they will need to offer hot and cold water or tepid water. Soap and hand towels must also be available.
In terms of layout and comfort, public restroom laws in Florida mandate all bathrooms to be ADA-compliant, and this entails that they should be accessible to people with all degrees of ability. Also note that employee restrooms are expected to comply with both OSHA and ADA guidelines, while public bathroom laws and policies note that they must be ADA-compliant. Standard bathroom stalls tend to measure around 36″ wide and 60″ long.
However, to ensure that the restroom is ADA-compliant, it needs to have at least one accessible stall, which is big enough to adequately allow a person in a wheelchair to use — a minimum of 60″ wide. In addition, there should also be a path measuring 30″ by 48″ between the stall and the nearest sink. If the outward-swinging door impedes that path, it is no longer considered ADA-compliant.
Also, have it in mind that the toilet size will need to be ADA-compliant and should have a central location that measures around 16 and 18″ from the closest wall or partition. The toilet itself will need to be around 17 and 19″ off the finished floor.
Note that grab bars are a must especially since they serve as assistive devices. The ADA rules note that they should be at least 36″ long and be both behind the toilet and along the side partition or wall, between 33 and 36″ off the finished floor.
The accessible stall is expected to be at the end of a row, and while ADA-compliant stalls will have to open outward, walk-in stalls can have doors that open either way. Howbeit, if they open outward, their design is expected not to in any way interfere with the entrance or exit of neighboring stalls; therefore, ensuring that everyone can easily and conveniently use the restroom.
Although no Florida or federal law stipulates bathroom accessibility for transgender or non-binary people; however, a good number of businesses in Florida note that their gendered restrooms are inclusive to everyone, irrespective of how they may be designed. In recent times, businesses are beginning to adopt single-occupant, unisex bathrooms that allow people to comfortably access the facilities without fear of harassment or violence.
It is also imperative to note that sanitation is a very critical aspect of maintaining compliant public restrooms, and the material of the restroom stalls can in many ways influence how often a business owner will need to have the partitions cleaned. The most popular options for bathroom partitions include.
- Powder-coated steel: This is a cost-efficient option for bathroom partitions as they resist rust and corrosion.
- Plastic laminate: This material makes it easy to design and customize your partitions the way you want and it is suitable if you want your bathroom partitions to align with your establishment’s overall aesthetic.
- Solid plastic: Solid plastic bathroom partitions are very nice for areas that see moisture or humidity especially since they are durable, sturdy, and resistant to moisture.
- Phenolic core: This is another cheap and easy-to-maintain option. Note that phenolic core bathroom partitions have a phenolic resin coating, and this helps make them resistant to most pollutants and easy to clean.
- Stainless steel: This is, without doubt, the most used option in the state of Florida as they offer timeless beauty, are low-maintenance and resist rust and scratches.
In the state of Florida, businesses are expected to provide restroom facilities for their employees, but customers may not have access to these restrooms.
But if you want to allow customers to use these restrooms, then you must ensure that the facilities conform to local plumbing codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether you intend to build a brand-new bathroom layout or looking to renovate an existing one, you must ensure that it complies with the rules and regulations noted above.