2017 Handbook of Employment Regulations Affecting Florida Farm Employers and Workers: Field Sanitation and Drinking Water [Federal and State]1

Fritz Roka, Michael Olexa, Carol Fountain, and Jessica Fernandez 2


Federal and state laws are in place to ensure farm employees, particularly hand laborers, have access to good field sanitation conditions and sufficient safe drinking water supplies. This document merges the state and federal guidelines. For the most part, state and federal standards overlap. However, when state and federal guidelines differ, farm employers must abide by the more stringent standard.

Who Must Comply

The Florida State Field Sanitation Standard requires toilets, handwashing facilities, and drinking water where at least five farm workers are employed at one location at the same time. This is a more stringent standard than the federal requirement, which exempts farm employers with less than eleven employees. Sanitation and drinking water facilities must be provided at no cost to the workers.

Federal standards exempt some employers. Florida standards are unclear as to whether the same exemptions hold or not.

  • Toilet and handwashing facilities are not required for employees who perform field work for a period of three hours or less during the day, including transportation time to and from the field.

  • Activities such as logging operations, the care and feeding of livestock, or hand-labor operations in permanent structures (e.g., canning facilities, processing facilities, and packinghouses) are not included in hand-labor operations.

Note: While some hand-labor operations may be exempt from field sanitation standards, food safety requirements more than likely would be enforced with respect to providing adequate employee access to toilet and handwashing units.


The state of Florida adopts the same definitions as described by the federal field sanitation standards:

  • Handwashing facility. This means a facility providing a basin, container, or outlet with an adequate supply of potable water, soap, and single-use towels.

  • Potable water. This means water that meets the standards for drinking purposes of the state or local authority having jurisdiction or water that meets the quality standards prescribed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency's national Interim Primary Drinking Water Regulations, published in 40 C.F.R., Part 141.

  • Toilet facility. This means a fixed or portable facility designed for the purpose of adequate collection and containment of the products of both defecation and urination which is supplied with toilet paper adequate to employee needs. Toilet facility includes biological, chemical, flush, and combustion toilets, and sanitary privies.

Employer Responsibilities

State and federal standards are identical with respect to the following employer responsibilities:

  • Location and number of toilet facilities. The toilet(s) and handwashing unit(s) shall be located in the field, adjacent to each other and within a one-quarter mile of where people are working. If terrain prevents facilities from being located within one-quarter mile, the facilities shall be located at the point of closest vehicular access. One set of toilets and handwashing units is required for the first twenty workers. The number of toilets and handwashing units will increase for every additional twenty workers. For example, if between twenty-one and forty people are in the field, two sets of toilets and hand units are required to be within one-quarter mile.

  • Field toilet facilities. These shall be constructed and maintained in accordance with provisions of Section 10D-6.051, F.A.C., emptied at least weekly, and provide a minimum storage capacity of fifty gallons per unit. Seepage from all field toilet facilities shall be disposed by a method approved by the county public health unit. The department shall approve portable, water-flushed units when determined appropriate for a particular situation. Toilet facilities shall have a screened ventilation opening and self-closing doors that can be closed and latched from the inside and shall be constructed to ensure privacy.

  • Field handwashing units. These shall be convenient and supplied with potable water in portable containers and shall be provided with soap or other cleanser and single-use hand-drying towels. A waste container shall be provided for the used towels, and the wastewater from the handwashing unit shall not cause a sanitary nuisance.

  • Drinking water. This shall be potable and provided in containers constructed of smooth, impervious, corrosion-resistant material and shall be maintained by sanitary methods. The containers shall be marked with the words Drinking Water in English and the native language of the majority of the workers. Single-service cups shall be provided unless water is dispensed from a fountain equipped with an angled, protected jet outlet. Ice used for cooling drinking water shall be made from potable water. The water shall be suitably cool and in sufficient amounts, taking into account the air temperature, humidity, and the nature of the work performed, to meet the needs of all employees. County public health unit staff, during the normal course of their work, shall take water samples at random to ensure the safety of the drinking water.

  • The employer shall notify each employee of the location of drinking water and sanitation facilities and provide employees with reasonable opportunities during the work day to use them.

  • It is the employer's responsibility to inform each employee of the importance of each of the following good hygiene practices to minimize exposure to the hazards in the field of heat, communicable diseases, urine retention, and agricultural residues. The employer will inform workers as to why it is important to (1) use the water and facilities provided for drinking, handwashing, and elimination; (2) drink water frequently, especially on hot days; (3) wash hands both before and after using the toilet; (4) urinate as frequently as necessary; and (5) wash hands before eating and smoking.


  • No soap, hand-drying towels, or waste containers for towel disposal ($50).

  • Toilet facilities that are not screened or self-closing and do not ensure privacy ($75).

  • Handwashing facilities unavailable or not located adjacent to the toilet. Facilities not located within one-quarter mile walking distance of farm employees ($100).

  • Water containers improperly constructed or not marked in English and the native language of the majority of the workers. Single-service cups not provided and ice not from an approved source ($100).

  • Wastewater from handwashing facility causes a sanitary nuisance. The amount of drinking water available is insufficient to prevent dehydration or disease. Toilet facilities do not provide a minimum fifty-gallon storage capacity ($250).

  • Improper disposal of sewage from toilet facilities. Toilet and drinking water facilities are not provided. Fines for first offense ($250) and for second offense ($500).

Compliance officers with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) issue citations to violators of field sanitation and drinking water requirements. Fines can be up to $250 per violation, per day. The amount of a fine can be reduced by up to fifty percent, if the violator submits physical proof to the department's county public health unit director, administrator, or other authorized staff that the violation was corrected within twenty-four hours from the time of the citation. In reducing the amount of the fine, FDOH staff shall take into consideration such factors as the gravity of the violation and the history of compliance of the violator.

The citation recipient may request an administrative hearing within twenty-one days of the date of receipt of the citation by following the procedures listed on citation HRS-H Form 4084.

Related Information

  • Chapter 381.006(7), Florida Statutes

  • Chapter 450.33(10), Florida Statutes

  • Chapter 64E-10, Florida Administrative Code

Responsible Agency

Department of Health
Division of Environmental Health
4052 Bald Cypress Way
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 245-4444
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Division of Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 488-6603

Requests for information concerning permits, compliance, and other problems should be referred to the local County Public Health Unit.


1. This is EDIS document FE399, a publication of the Department of Food and Resource Economics, UF/IFAS Extension. Published 2003, revised 2009 and 2017. This handbook is produced and distributed by the UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law. Originally published by Leo Polopolus. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Fritz Roka, associate professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL. Michael Olexa, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, and director, Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Carol Fountain, editor, Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Jessica Fernandez, graduate student, Levin College of Law, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

This document is designed to provide accurate, current, and authoritative information on the subject. However, since the laws, administrative rulings, and court decisions on which it is based are subject to constant revision, portions of this publication could become outdated at any time. This publication is distributed with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice, and the information contained herein should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. For these reasons, the utilization of these materials by any person constitutes an agreement to hold harmless the authors, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the University of Florida for any liability claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this publication.