PSAI Develops Criteria to Comply With GAP Health Concerns

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Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is a growing area of importance as outbreaks of salmonella and other contaminants continue to invade the world's food supply. The last several years have seen citrus crops, strawberries, blueberries, mushrooms, peanuts and leafy green vegetables being pulled from the grocery shelves as a result of contamination. Contamination can occur as a result of soil, water, hygiene or other issues in processing facilities.

Proposed GAP standards for portable sanitation will be the topic of a panel discussion coordinated by the Portable Sanitation Association International at the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International in Indianapolis later this month.

As a continuation of a major initiative that began early in 2012, the PSAI is diligently working to address this major health issue in the area of field sanitation. PolyPortables, Inc., PolyJohn Enterprises, and Satellite Industries Inc. have contributed time and support to the PSAI for this endeavor. In addition, local portable restroom operators have been solicited for feedback and suggestions. Presently, there are no specific federal or state guidelines for portable sanitation requirements, and local regulations vary.

The November 2012 PSAI Convention in San Diego continued the effort to educate both members and the general public on this vital health concern. During presentations and follow-up discussions, members shared their understanding of how GAP is not only regional with regards to best practices, but specific to crop. The overall sentiment was to ensure field workers have adequate hand-wash facilities and sanitary field restrooms available to exceed expected minimums.

The PSAI developed these criteria for creating nationwide, and eventually worldwide, GAP standards to protect public health:

• Portable restrooms should be in good repair, which would include having screens in place to protect from insects and other vermin. Durable and rigid constructed units should have adequate tanks that prevent splashing (in transit or while in use) while holding enough liquid to cover waste products.

• The cleanliness of the restroom should be paramount with general cleanliness as well as built of materials that are easily cleanable and non-absorbent.

• Portable restrooms should have self-closing doors, be lockable from the inside, and be constructed to ensure privacy.

• Toilet paper must be provided in a suitable holder at all times.

• Effective odor control deodorizer must be used in waste holding tanks.

• Hand-washing access must be adjacent to every solitary or group of portable restrooms.

• Spillage or leakage must be cleaned up immediately. This is especially important with regards to pumping activity and holding tanks as well as restrooms recently transported.

• Contents of portable restrooms must be disposed of by pumping into a sanitary sewer or by a liquid waste hauler transporting the liquid waste for proper disposal. The disposal of waste from the restrooms and/or hand-washing facilities must not cause unsanitary conditions, nuisance or contamination.

• Hand-washing facilities should be self-contained or should drain into a separate and dedicated waste tank, ensuring no risk of cross contamination. They should also be properly stocked with soap and single-use towels with a trash receptacle provided.

• Hand-washing stations should have a minimum of 15 gallons of water per spigot.

• Providers/operators should have and provide customers with a spill containment cleanup plan and have materials available to execute such a plan.

• All services need to be recorded on a service sticker inside each portable restroom.

• Bilingual signs need to be posted stating "Workers must wash hands before returning to work."

• All restrooms should comply with ANSI Z4.1, Z4.3 and Z4.4 standards and all services to portable restrooms must meet or exceed PSAI Certification Standards.

All of this information will be described in detail at the PSAI's panel discussion about GAP during the Feb. 25 Education Day at the Pumper & Cleaner Expo. Robert Davis of PolyPortables and Steve Washburn of PolyJohn have devoted considerable effort to develop these standards and both will be on the panel. According to Tim Petersen, PSAI secretary and chairman of the GAP Task Force, "GAP is an issue that will continue to grow in importance in the future and the PSAI wants to establish the foundation for portable sanitation guidelines now." The PSAI is committed to this cause and additional education and discussion is needed. Please attend and be a part of this important discussion in Indianapolis.

Special thanks to Davis for his contributions not only to this article, but also to his untiring effort to this initiative on behalf of the PSAI.


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