3 Ways to Prevent Toilet Tip Overs

Freak accidents? No. Restroom tip overs are preventable. Learn what precautions to take when installing units at job sites.

3 Ways to Prevent Toilet Tip Overs
Avoid placing units in onesy-twosy configurations where foul play would be less visible.

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In a prank gone bad, two men recently — and carelessly — tipped over a portable restroom, resulting in their cousin-in-law becoming a quadriplegic. The victim won a $5 million settlement against the perpetrators, the manufacturer of the unit and the portable restroom operator. 

The manufacturer was found to be negligent by not providing spikes in the unit despite there being holes for such, and because the top-heavy design made it prone to tip overs. The operator’s part in the tragedy was placing the unit on the side of a hill and propping it up with wood to level it out. 

Fortunately, accidents of this severity are rare, but tip overs in general are not uncommon, and this case can serve as a wake-up call and a reminder of the importance of taking some commonsense safety precautions when installing portable restrooms. 

Of course, companies have no control over the behavior of either the general public or the weather, the two main causes of tip overs, but there are actions that can be taken to minimize the likelihood of problems. 

1. Conditions. You don’t always know what kind of terrain you’ll be working with but winging it when you get there isn’t a good solution. Be prepared to stake down a unit if there’s any question or find a better location. 

You also need to consider not only what the terrain looks like when you install a restroom, but also what it might look like when it gets hit with normal weather — Is it in an open windy area? Does it look like rivulets of water will form if it rains? Is moving mud a possibility? 

And, of course, any time there’s a chance of severe weather, units should be staked or even removed. 

2. Pranksters. For those events likely to involve heavy drinking or rowdy crowds, you might consider asking for security. Also, avoid placing units in onesy-twosy configurations where foul play would be less visible. 

Some event organizers prefer restrooms be placed in out-of-sight locations, but you have a right to place them in areas where your property and the public will be protected. Add a clause to the contract that specifies you have the authority to place restrooms where you deem appropriate. 

In some cases it might be appropriate to lock units after hours so no one is hurt should a unit be tipped over. In remote areas, consider staking. 

Brass economy padlocks from Lock America are available keyed alike in five colors to match the most common portable restrooms.

They feature durable chrome-plated brass shackles and brass bodies, making them virtually rustproof. 

Want more security? Durable, visible Rhino Barriers from PolyJohn Enterprises are ideal for use on construction sites, roadwork, airports and special events. They are lightweight and easy to handle, and can be positioned by one person.

3. Accidents. Minimize the risk of accidental tip overs by making sure units are not installed near heavy machinery or moving vehicles that might inadvertently back up into them.

And don’t forget to take design and stability into account when making purchasing decisions as you’re building your inventory. 

Of course, nothing you do can prevent someone from suing you in the event of an accident, but if you can show diligent rather than negligent behavior on your part you stand a much better chance of avoiding liability. And you can rest easy knowing you did all you could to prevent a tragedy.


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