Join the Effort to Develop New Standards for Portable Sanitation

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Every five years, the Portable Sanitation Association International is responsible for updating three American National Standards that pertain to our industry. The documents cover:

Sanitation in places of employment

Nonsewered waste disposal systems

Sanitation in fields and temporary labor camps

In reality, it takes input from many audiences to get the standards right. The PSAI’s role is to coordinate the process of gaining input and turning it into draft language. But our job doesn’t end there. We cannot just declare that our preferred words and guidelines must be accepted by everyone. So, the PSAI also coordinates a process of voting and appeals to help ensure everyone with a direct and material interest is heard.  

Why does this matter to you? How does it make you money?

Well, these standards provide support when you encourage customers to get the optimal number of restroom units, hand-wash sinks and service for their sites. The standards inform changes to federal and state rules, and they become the go-to resource when circumstances change. Like this year, for example.

Since spring 2020, the portable sanitation industry has been seen in a different light. We are essential. We are more valued, and in general, we are being listened to more often. Who saw that coming as a backhanded blessing in the midst of a dreadful pandemic?

Finally, people are seeing the value in hand-washing. Finally, they are starting to “get” that a portable restroom can be a decent, respected alternative to a sewered toilet if the cabin is tended more frequently. (Why anyone ever thought that hand-washing wasn’t important or that a portable unit needed to be minded less often than restrooms with plumbing is still a mystery to me, but I digress.)

In June, the PSAI issued guidelines for portable sanitation on job sites during the time of COVID-19. Those recommendations call for more hand-wash stations, more pumping and more wipe downs than exist in any current standard or regulation. Now, the big question is: How should these temporary guidelines affect the more enduring standards I mentioned above? Should the established standards language remain once COVID-19 passes? Or should standards reflect the lessons this pandemic has taught us about hand-washing, pumping, wipe downs and more?

You undoubtedly have ideas about this. So please get involved with updating the standards. You can:

Apply to be a part of the consensus body. This group is made up of people and entities directly and materially affected by the standards. Through your involvement, you will help craft the language for the updated standards and vote on whether to accept the proposed language.

Suggest others who are directly and materially affected so we can invite them to engage. People from outside the industry who represent end users from the public, government, labor and industry are always needed. Who do you know?

Read the proposed standards and provide feedback. The PSAI expects to have these drafts ready by the end of the year or early 2021. Contact me to get a copy for review and comment.

A lot has changed in the world since we updated the standards five years ago. Much of the impact on portable sanitation was invisible to psychics, even with a crystal ball. Our standards’ language must reflect the new world we live in and the new world for portable sanitation that we are trying to create. Get involved! Psychic talent is not required, just an interest in creating better work sites, better weekends and a better world.  


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