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27 Organizational Environment Transit agency (TA) characteristics such as size; mode; location; needs; externalities, includ- ing federal and state oversight; and labor relations set the stage for all the other areas of action. It might be expected that the TAâs characteristics would determine the restroom access process that is in place and the decisions made. TA size, service modes, and laborâmanagement rela- tions certainly drive how many people are involved and how formal the policies and process are. However, in terms of taking the issue seriously, committing resources, developing effec- tive policies, and involving stakeholders in solving problems, small and large TAs did all those things, and demographically similar locations did not. Transit Agency Characteristics Here is what the 100 TAs surveyed looked like: Small and medium-sized TAs (fewer than 100 or 100â500 vehicles in regular service, respectively) each made up a little more than a third of the survey sample; 26% of the TAs were large (more than 500 vehicles) as shown in Table 2-1. All but 2% provided fixed-route bus service, 71% had paratransit, and a quarter had rail. Most provided service in urban areas, half in suburban areas, and one-fifth in rural areas. The union- ization rate in the sample as a whole was 82%. The distribution for the interviews was slightly different, as outreach targeted the TAs with more restroom concerns and activities, in order to learn the most about possible approaches. C H A P T E R 2 Organizational Context of Restroom Access Organizational environment and practices Infrastruc- ture and capital planning Route planning SchedulingService delivery Cost assess- ment and evaluation
28 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access Characteristic TAs Surveyed (%) TAs Interviewed (N = 15) Size Small 38 3 (20%) Medium 36 3 (20%) Large 26 9 (60%) Modes Bus 98 14 (93%) Rail 24 7 (47%) Paratransit 71 11 (73%) Distribution Urban 91 15 (100%) Suburban 50 12 (80%) Rural 20 2 (13%) Unionized Yes 82 14 (93%) No 28 1 (7%) Table 2-1. Project TA characteristics. The top interview candidates also included those in which the union representatives responded as well as management, to ensure a balance of information about each organization where possible. Larger TAs responded more strongly to requests for interviews and follow up. Thus, the practices investigated for this project were more likely to be from larger, unionized TAs who took the issue seriously. The practices and concerns that distinguished medium-sized and smaller TAs are highlighted where they arose. On a scale of ânot at all importantâ (1) to âone of the most important issuesâ (5), the large TAs rated restroom access as more important than the average for the whole sample (4.2 versus 3.8, respectively). Surprisingly, local union (LU) respondents rated the importance of the issue slightly lower on the average than the TAs. They may have approached the question differently, or the TAs who took the issue seriously may have been more likely to complete the survey. Figure 2-1 shows how successful participants thought their programs were at achieving health, safety, and service delivery goals and whether they reported good practices. The TAs were, pre- dictably, more positiveâthere may have been a bias to those who were proud of what they were doingâand the LUs more negative. Confidence in their own success was also lower in larger TAs, despite their extensive staff contribution and programs. One possible explanation is the barriers described in interviews about the obstacles to restroom accessâtraffic problems, limits on stopping the vehicle along the route, other schedule delays, and conflict with passengersâare likely to be more common in bigger cities where larger TAs are located. One LU leader told us not to bother interviewing their medium-sized TA because restroom access was not much of an issueâthe operator just stopped the bus when he or she needed to, called it in, and told the passengers what they were doing, with no particular problems. This may not be so straightforward in big cities. LaborâManagement Relations and the Roles of Vehicle Operators Restroom access can provide a forum for productive exchange and even cooperation between management and labor. Labor relations were mixed at the TAs and LUs interviewed for the project. Almost 60% of the LU respondents rated the restroom program at their TAs as
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 29 successful or somewhat successful overall. At three large TAs, the joint restroom activity was considered the strongest area of collaboration in the labor relations. In one, the LU president felt that relations had improved in all areas in the past decade. The TA participants frequently saw the LU as a necessary partner, if not always a reliable one, and all acknowledged the important role of vehicle operators. However, in several locations, management openly mis- trusted the LU. One transit director who had agreed to participate in the follow-up interview refused to do so when told the union would also be involved. Some TA survey participants criticized vehicle operators for not keeping restroom facilities clean and for sometimes taking advantage of the rules, but spoke as if both were examples of one bad apple. A few felt that the issue was a political football for the LU. While stating that they took the needs of the operators seriously, there was an element of paternalism in state- ments such as the following: Operators are expected to make use of the washroom before leaving the depot, at terminals during layovers, and in emergencies along the route. When service disruptions occur, they may be delayed in getting to the washroom but are allowed to stop on route if necessary. However, service should not be intentionally delayed through poor planning. âTransportation Director For their part, the LU participants frequently believed that management was unwilling to make adequate adjustments to schedules or to commit resources. They reported that vehicle operators were under pressure from dispatchers or operations supervisors to hold it until they got to the terminal. Vehicle operators contributed to planning and scheduling decisions in just over a third of project TAs. In some cases, even those with members on scheduling and planning committees felt shut out of the decision processes. At least some employers have not yet taken the most basic steps in assuring restroom access: I was in negotiations for three contracts earlier this year. We were trying to get the [managing] com- pany to make a list of restrooms that were available for the operators in the three different companies out on the different routes and publish it. And they werenât even willing to do that. We were just asking for a list and to be distributed to new hires; here you go, hereâs a list of all the places when youâre working line # and #, hereâs the location that will let us use the restroom. We werenât asking the company to go out and actually talk to the places. It was more that these are already known places, letâs just pass the list on to the new hires and then refresh it every once in a while for everybody else. âInternational Union Field Representative TA TA TA LU LU LU 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% Successful Somewhat successful Not at all successful % o f s ur ve ys Figure 2-1. Survey results: How successful is the TAâs restroom access program?
30 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access In a follow-up query sent to all survey participants, five of the 27 TAs that responded (19%) reported a designated person responsible for restroom issues. The time allotted for this work ranged from 1% to 15% full-time equivalent and averaged 6%. Only three TAs had a separate restroom committee; there were joint committees of union leaders and operations designees at eight other TAs that were identified as covering restroom issues. In contrast, six of the 10 TAs participating in interviews had a restroom point person, with committed time ranging from 10% to 100%, and six had committees. As discussed elsewhere, the TAs and LUs that dedicated time to follow-up interviews were more often those who both felt that the issue was important and had taken organizational steps to address it. In TAs with joint committees, the LU respon- dents were more positive about the results. Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) often formed the basis for both policies and informal practices, according to the project sample. Negotiated language may cover the TAâs commitment to restroom access, rules defining schedules and recovery time, standards for rest- room maintenance, vehicle operator input on issues and locations, limits on discipline related to restroom use, and when location updates are to be provided. The typical bare-bones content focuses on restroom availability: The [employer] shall endeavour to arrange proper lavatory accommodation on the respective bus lines for Operators on duty. The [employer] shall post an updated listing of lavatory accommodations every three months. Further, the [employer] shall endeavour to post an updated listing of lavatory accommodations, as appropriate, when there are service changes that impact the location of lavatory accommodations. âCollective Bargaining Agreement, MediumÂSized Canadian Transit Agency At the TA with this language, the standard operating procedure book went further, referencing the contract language in providing the details of designated washroom areas and times, when and how to secure the bus, dealing with human waste on the bus, and communicating with dispatch and with passengers. Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding established a task force as a subgroup of the laborâmanagement committee to address outstanding restroom problems, starting with $30,000 in funding. Clauses from 26 CBAs negotiated in the United States and Canada, which are detailed in Appendix E, included language about access terms and about how schedules and recovery times are set to make restroom access possible. Fewer extended into how restrooms were to be inspected and by whom, updating information about locations, maintenance of sites, or worker input. The proportions with language in each area are shown in Figure 2-2. An example of a comprehensive CBA that emphasizes the role of the vehicle operators and their union, is shown in Box 2-1. It targets all of the detailed areas that affect restroom use: 0 5 10 15 20 25 Access Schedule rules/recovery time Worker input Inspections, updates and maintenance Discipline Figure 2-2. Examples of collective bargaining agreement language provided by surveyed transit agencies.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 31 Box 2-1. Excerpts of a Collective Bargaining Agreement The Company recognizes that access to safe, clean, and accessible restroom facilities by its employees, and particularly by its operators, is critical to the safe and efficient operation of its services and, more importantly, is a basic human right. As such, the parties agree to the following Governing Principles: â¢ RIGHTSâEmployees have a right to restrooms that are safe, clean, and available. â¢ TIMEâSufficient time shall be built into each route or run to reasonably allow restroom access and use. â¢ INFRASTRUCTUREâSufficient facilities will be accessible on each route or run, and/or appropriate efforts will be made to provide such access. â¢ OVERSIGHTâSufficient ongoing joint oversight will exist to ensure that adequate time and infrastructure are established and maintained. The Parties agree that these Governing Principles shall be implemented in the following manner: 1. The Company shall identify and ensure that there are safe, clean, accessible restrooms on all routes. In the event a route does not have an accessible restroom, the Company shall work to provide timely access to a safe and clean restroom option; 2. The Company shall schedule all routes in a manner which provides enough time at the origination point, the destination point, or during the route for schedule recovery, including time for restroom use and access; 3. The Company shall maintain an up-to-date list of bathroom facilities for each route, with hours of accessibility and location, and shall make copies of the list readily available to transit employees; 4. The Company shall verify on a regular basis that all designated restroom facilities are safe, clean, and accessible; 5. The Company shall, where a route exists or is created and no available restroom access exists, make efforts to purchase, install, or maintain an accessible, secure, portable restroom. In the event it is determined by the Company that such a need cannot be reasonably be met, the Parties shall collaborate in order to resolve the issue. . . . 6. The Parties are establishing Schedule Advisory Committees in each division, which shall provide input and recommendations to management concerning routes and running times applicable to the routes, and among the issues within the purview of the committee is the availability and accessibility of restroom facilities along routes and reasonable times for the use thereof. Given the importance of the issue of restroom access, there shall also be a single joint labor/management Restroom Access Committee which will work in conjunction with the Schedule Advisory Committees, with a goal that the two committees will be merged after the first year of the collective bargaining agreement. Each Business Agent shall appoint one labor member, and Management shall appoint three management representatives. . . . (continued on next page)
32 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access The mission of the Restroom Access Committee shall be, on an ongoing basis, to monitor and provide, to the General Manager and all Union Business Agents, information and recommendations regarding conditions, concerns, and improvements pertaining to restroom access or lack thereof: 7. The Company shall authorize release from work of Restroom Access Committee members on paid company time, at least once every two weeks for the first six months of the agreement and once per month thereafter, to engage in tasks commensurate with the mission of the Restroom Access Committee. . . . 8. The Company shall document and provide to the members of the Restroom Access Committee periodic reports of all employee restroom accessârelated incidents, including but not limited to, all reported soiling incidents which occur on board a vehicle, all restroom request denials, all reports of non- access to or unsatisfactory conditions in bathrooms, and all reports of off- route bathroom use; 9. The Company, the Union, and the employees recognize that many of the restrooms used by operators are located on property not controlled by the Company, including private businesses. All parties therefore recognize the necessity of treating such facilities, and the people who use and staff such facilities, with respect. No employee shall be disciplined or in any way adversely impacted solely for using a restroom facility that has been designated, nor shall the Company deny an employee restroom access when needed and requested. In instances where an operator requests timely restroom access and there is no accessible bathroom at the time of need, the operator, in communication and coordination with a supervisor, may use an off-route bathroom. The role of the supervisor shall be to assist the operator in locating an appropriate and accessible restroom in a timely manner and in a manner that least disrupts service. The Company shall prioritize an effort to establish on-route accessible bathrooms, including consideration of the feasibility of construction of restroom facilities where none currently exist: 10. The Parties agree that this restroom access provision of the collective bargaining agreement shall have an elevated and specific sensitivity within the collective bargaining agreement, intended to maintain the dignity of the workforce, to protect the health and welfare of the workforce, and provide a clear and inarguable commitment to these values and protections. . . . 11. An âExpedited Dispute Resolution Processâ shall govern all disputes specific to restroom access provisions with the collective bargaining agreement. . . . Box 2-1. Excerpts of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (Continued)
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 33 identifying and providing clean restrooms, setting up a committee and supporting it with release time, sharing information, and protecting operators from discipline. This language was successfully negotiated in a contract in the spring of 2019, after a long campaign involving LU demonstrations (sometimes in diapers), meetings with state officials, and a strong relationship with a local news outlet. The International Transport Workersâ Federation (ITF), having surveyed its worldwide members about their concerns and potential improvements, launched the Transport Workersâ Sanitation Charter on November 19, 2019, timed to mark World Toilet Day (ITF 2019). The charter elements can serve as templates for other industries and for the public as well. The charter covers recommended standards, special populations, and existing legislation. It can be downloaded in English, Spanish, French, and Russian. Whether or not the issue of disciplinary action was addressed in the CBA, all TAs in the project sample said they did not discipline operators for restroom-related delays. The LU representa- tives and bus operators with more seniority often stated this was the case at their TAs, but not all operators were confident that this was true. Sometimes even management acknowledged that employees might be disciplined for related issues, but they felt this was because of patterns of action rather than restroom use itself, explaining that operators are disciplined for intentional delays or eating meals, not for restroom use. Still, the use of the phrase âsolely for using a restroom facility that has been designatedâ in Item 9 in Box 2-1 suggests managementâs intent to reserve the right to punish what it sees as abuse. The discipline may be subtle: In a large subway system, train operators felt that their use of the restroom at intermediate stations was counted, and they were counseled to change jobs if they used a restroom too often. This certainly felt to them like an adverse impact. In a strongly worded citation in 2003, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found that a paratransit employer disciplined workers both for not taking the state-required 10-minute rest break time and for running late when they had done so, as no extra time was scheduled. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries cited a TA in 2014 after finding that, among other violations, âoperators have been disciplined for running late due to time spent using a bathroom or searching for an available public bathroom.â Both violations were based on a careful analysis of runtime records. Again, a written statement of the policy and a reasonable and consistent observance on the part of management may help eliminate the experience of unfair discipline. Who Else Is Involved? At many TAs, restroom access was essentially a service delivery concern, but it often extended beyond operations staff. The policy rationale defined by one large TA confirmed the importance of involving all stakeholders while retaining the core involvement in service delivery: The Restroom Access Program serves operators and frontline staff to ensure that they have safe, accessible, and compliant restroom access while on duty. Building and maintaining a well-functioning program requires that the restroom access coordinator participates in planning and assessments for future terminals and service. Beyond providing restroom access, the Restroom Access Program strives to take measures that will reduce the operational cost to the agency through proactive activities and participation in planning efforts. These efforts require collaboration between multiple business lines within the TA. In addition to regular system operational responsibilities and program improvements, the restroom access coordinator may be a contributor to projects that have a connection to the Rest- room Access Program while sharing the common goal of an improved working environment for opera- tors. These activities have assisted in the growth of a positive relationship between the Restroom Access Program, the TA, and our operatorâs sense of value to the TA. Retaining the Restroom Access Pro- gramâs position somewhere within Operations will enable it to continue working cross-departmentally with safety, service development, and design and construction to fulfill its core mission of operationally efficient restroom access for the TAâs operators.
34 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access In the project survey, operations staff was reported to be involved in restroom access activi- ties by all but one of the TAs, as shown in Figure 2-3. Service planning, scheduling and labor relations each had a role in less than half. The âotherâ category included contract operations staff, facilities, infrastructure and ânone.â On the average, three departments were thought to be involved, ranging from zero at some very small TAs to seven at several medium ones. When asked what was the most effective thing the TA does in relation to restroom access (as an open-ended question), three-quarters of all survey respondents described the policies and practices that are listed in Table 2-2. A few respondents stated ânone,â including one TA, 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Operations Service planning Scheduling Labor relations Safety Health and wellness Human resources Other Total % of TAs % of LUs Policy/Practice Number of Respondents Organization Commitment Operators should use restrooms as needed 25 Communication is encouraged 12 Staff dedicated to issue 2 No disciplinary action for use 1 Infrastructure TA builds or installs new facilities 11 Planning and Scheduling Considered in planning and scheduling 28 Sets a maximum time between layovers 14 Service Delivery Finding restrooms on route 13 Restrooms maintained and cleaned 9 Restrooms not shared with the public 8 Contracts with stores along routes 3 Effective call-in system 3 Relief drivers provided 2 Table 2-2. Most effective thing the transit agency does about restroom access. Figure 2-3. Survey results: Departments involved in restroom access.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 35 and one-quarter did not contribute any effective practices. The most frequent responses were considering restroom access in planning and scheduling and a commitment to access as needed. The responses of the project participants showed that they were, on the whole, actively involved in dealing with restroom access for vehicle operators, perhaps more than on the average. What really seemed to matter was a champion. The champion could be a person or team, it could evolve over time, it could start with upper management support or recruit it. It could be management-based or labor-driven, but at best involved both. Some were spurred on by citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), others in response to LU pressure, and others because one or more staff members recognized the human need. They all worked in the context of regulations that required restroom access but did not define how TAs needed to fulfill the requirements. Several TAs recruited outside help for initial assessments. For example, the Maryland Tran- sit Administration (MTA) worked with a consultant to survey bus drivers and other transit authorities throughout the country, to help assess the problem of restroom access and what they could do to improve it. The main solutions were identifying restroom facilities at the end of all routes and paying businesses to allow the drivers to use their restrooms. Although the operations division had done both already, the bus operators survey revealed that the rest- rooms were too far from the stops, there was not enough extra time in the schedule to use the restroom, and they were often not aware of the locations. Also required were infrastructural and maintenance improvements such as increased lighting at MTA facilities to enhance safety, reevaluation of MTA facility maintenance procedures, and purchase of manufactured rest- rooms to replace portable restrooms they were currently using (H. Zelefsky, MTA Bus Opera- tors Comfort Station Assessment, MTA, unpublished report, 2008). The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authorityâs (WMATAâs) recently completed project involving an established restroom team (WMATA 2018) is described in several other chapters. Federal and State Laws and Regulations About Restroom Access for Transit Vehicle Operators The U.S. Department of Transportation recently funded an industry review to identify public transportation safety standards and protocols, including those related to âscheduling fixed-route rail and bus service with adequate time and access for operators to use restroom facilities,â among many others. The Federal Transit Administration contractor was not able to identify any restroom-related standards or protocols, and none were offered by the public in response to a request for comments to the Federal Register (Staes 2017). Transit vehicle operators are guaranteed restroom access in several ways, although the regulations do not address scheduling. The most widely applied is the federal OSHA Sanitation Standard 29 CFR 1910.141. Federal labor law is directed at break frequency and pay. Restroom access in many jurisdictions is mentioned in some state labor standards covering rest and meal breaks, state versions of restroom access laws for specified medical conditions, and CBAs. The laws and regulations are covered in greater detail in Appendix D. Occupational Safety and Health Administration The gold standard for restroom access is set by OSHA. In the past, many believed that OSHA standards did not apply to vehicle operations, because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had jurisdiction. This position was held in the past even by OSHA compliance officers (J. Newquist, personal communication, April 28, 2014). However, as FMCSA has no standard related to restroom access, OSHA does have authority over drivers on the road
36 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access as well. It has made clear that it can and will issues citations in workplaces that are privately managed or in OSHA plan states. Under 29 CFR 1910.141(c) employers must provide access to enough sanitary, equipped toilet facilities at the workplace. OSHA highlights these areas: Employers must maintain restrooms in a sanitary condition. Restrooms must provide hot and cold running water or lukewarm water, hand soap or similar cleansing agent, and warm air blowers or indi- vidual hand towels (e.g., paper or cloth). Waterless hand cleaner and towels/rags are not adequate sub- stitutes for soap and water. (OSHA n.d.-a) The standard applies to all employees of private companies, including transit management contractors; to state and local systems; and to public-sector employees in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories, under agreements with OSHA (OSHA n.d.-b). The purpose of the sanitation standard is to ensure access to sanitary toilet facilities âso that employees will not suffer the adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not available when employees need them.â The health concerns they cited included medical conditions, pregnancy, prostate health, diet, medications, temperature, and fluids consumed. OSHA (1998) confirms that âThe need to use toilet facilities varies from person to person and even with respect to the same person.â Employers are not required to own and maintain toilets for mobile crews, which include transit vehicle operators when they are on the road. However, transportation to proper nearby toilet facilities must be immediately available when operators are on the job. OSHA acknowl- edges that some workplaces cannot be left unattended, including vehicles, and allows for a reasonable call-in procedure (OSHA n.d.-a). On its âRestrooms and Sanitation Requirementsâ webpage, OSHA (n.d.-a) clarifies the appli- cation of the sanitation standard to mobile workers, and provides links to the letters of inter- pretation the agency has issued in response to questions posed by employers and others about the standard (Figure 2-4). The standard requires âwater closetsâ that flush; however, portable facilities may be allowed if (1) the lack of water or temporary nature of the installation makes water carriage systems impracticable; (2) the portable toilets are readily accessible by employees; (3) the portable toilets have adequate lighting, are secure, and have heating as necessary; and (4) the portable toilets are well-maintained and properly serviced. OSHA can issue a citation if the portable toilets fail to meet these criteria. Figure 2-4. OSHA mobile workforce policies. OSHA Tip of the Week 5/2/2019: Allow workers to leave their work locations to use a restroom when needed. "Employers with mobile workers must provide readily available transportation that provides prompt access (i.e., less than 10 min.) to restrooms if they are not available at the work location. . . . Also, when work stations require constant coverage (e.g., production lines and bus drivers), employers may implement a system for workers to request relief as long as there are sufficient relief workers to assure the wait is not unreasonably long." Letters of Interpretation 4/6/1998: This standard [29 CFR 1910.141] requires employers to make toilet facilities available so that employees can use them when they need to do so. 6/7/2002: Mobile crews must have prompt access to nearby toilet facilities. For example, in general, toilets would be considered ânearbyâ if it would take less than 10 minutes to get to them. 4/23/2003: In such situations, employers need flexibility in developing procedures that will allow all of their workers access to toilet facilities as needed. A specific schedule for breaks might not allow the flexibility needed to address all types of work situations. Source: OSHA n.d.-a.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 37 Other violations related to restroom access could be cited, such as the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if assaults or accidents are allowed to occur, or Section 11(c) if employees are discriminated against for reporting their concerns. The National Transit Systems Security Act protects employees who report a violation of federal laws related to safety or funding, and violations are investigated by OSHA (OSHA n.d.-c). In some jurisdic- tions, the National Labor Relations Board can issue a violation if workers are disciplined for concerted health and safety activity, such as requesting improved restroom access. OSHA recently issued best-practice guidance for transgender workers, thus establishing the core principle that everyone should be able to use the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity (OSHA 2015). While not regulatory, this guidance is in line with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling of the same year. Enforcement Process OSHA Area Directors and compliance officers encourage agreements between employers and workers on how to provide needed access to toilet facilities. Issuing a citation does not in itself resolve the problem. Therefore, the Area Directors and compliance officers first encourage employers and employees to work together to see how they can resolve their differences and create a system/procedure that will work in that particular workplace for that specific employer and employee(s). (OSHA 2003) OSHA and related agencies will typically respond to a nonemergency complaint with a faxed letter or a phone call. If the office is satisfied with the employerâs response, they will confirm that and send a letter to the original complainant and to the union, if there is one. In Illinois in 2014, following a complaint about unsanitary washroom conditions at a paratransit company, the local OSHA office asked the employer to investigate and fix whatever hazards were found without issuing a citation. If the employees disagree with the employerâs response, they can request an inspection. This happened at a school bus location in Yonkers, New York, when the employers faxed OSHA a picture of a portable restroom that they had never installed. This resulted in citations and fines in several standards, as OSHA is allowed to cite violations beyond the complaint. In an inspection, one or more OSHA compliance officers comes to the facility without notice to the employer or the complainant. OSHA provides guidance to compliance officers about when to issue restroom access citations, and how serious the violation is (OSHA 1998). The key questions are: Is restroom access immediately available, and, if not, are any restrictions reason- able? The compliance officer asks the questions about restrictions, reasonable accommodations, and the health impact of the employerâs policies, as shown in the compliance checklist in Fig- ure 2-5. (This checklist is available in Templates for Restroom Access Policies and Boilerplate Contract Language.) If violations are found, a citation will be issued and a meetingâthe informal conferenceâ held with the employer, the complainant, and union representatives, if any, to discuss how to resolve it. Employers can contest the citation, the penalties (if any), and the proposed abate- ments. Employees may only object to the time frame for the abatements. Citations Between 2013 and 2018, OSHA or state plan partners issued 12 citations against TAs that referred to the sanitation standard, but only three were for restroom access. Examples of past sanitation standard events at TAs include citations for not ensuring access and not providing warm water or soap, as well as an investigation of a fatality that was eventually not cited. Two cases stand out: In California, restroom access for operators was a long-standing problem. A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) citation issued in 2009
38 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access stated that drivers did not have proper access to toilets during all working hours on 20 routes. Management agreed to participate in a unionâmanagement committee about restroom access and to provide drivers with lists of restrooms and potable water locations on their paddles. Figure 2-6 shows the information memorandum that was included with the citations but not considered a violation because workers had not yet experienced restricted access at the location. It acknowledged the pressure of route planning while requiring that adequate restroom access cannot be delayed because of it. Issue Y/N Notes Is there toilet paper? Is there soap? Is there running water for washing hands (hot and cold or tepid)? Are there towels or hand dryers? Is there light when needed? Is there heat when needed? Restrictions What restrictions are there on restroom access? How long must a vehicle operator wait to use the restroom? What is the employerâs explanation for any restrictions/delays? Are the restrictions a general policy or supervisory decision? Impact Does the employerâs policy recognize individual medical needs? Have drivers reported health problems related to restroom use? How often are drivers denied permission to use a toilet? Reviewer name and signature Review Date Figure 2-5. Template: Compliance Checklist for OSHA Standard 141(c): Toilet Facilities. The employer is in the process of reconfiguring bus lines due to changing budgetary and operational needs, and will designate what toilet functions will be available on each bus line for use by bus operators. During this reconfiguration process, the employer should: 1. Ensure that toilet facilities are designated and accessible to bus operators during all working hours, including early mornings, late evenings, overnight, [and] on weekends and holidays; 2. Make a good faith effort to maintain all designated toilets in a clean and sanitary condition in the future; and 3. Explore joint efforts, wherever possible, with other transit agencies having similar responsibilitiesâsuch as BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit], Golden Gate Transit, WestCAT, and Vallejo/Solano Transitâto establish âemployee-onlyâ restrooms at shared, designated toilet facilities, and to share responsibility to maintain these toilet facilities in a clean and sanitary condition. Figure 2-6. Cal/OSHA information memo.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 39 In 2014, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (2014, p. 4) fined an employer $3,500 because the employer did not give the 2,700 transit vehicle operators âunre- stricted access to restroom facilities when needed to relieve themselvesâ and failed to provide running water at a terminal portable toilet facility for more than 6 years. In the same viola- tion citation, the employer was found to have disciplined operators âfor running late due to time spent using a restroom or searching for an available public restroomâ (Washington State Department of Labor and Industries 2014, p. 4). The employer requested an abatement modi- fication but has carried through with an extensive program to address the identified problems. State and Federal Regulations on Breaks The federal Fair Labor Standards Act defines requirements for pay and hours of work (U.S. Department of Labor n.d.). While there is no statutory requirement for meal or rest breaks, any break time less than 20 minutes must be counted as hours worked. For a break of 20 minutes or longer to be unpaid, the employee must be uninterrupted and not on-call in that time. Rules about meal or rest breaks or restroom access that apply to transit employees were found for 16 states. Most require a break within a set time frame or after a minimum time on the jobâ often 4 hours. Pay for breaks is only required in six states. The Vermont Wage and Hour Program requires that employers give workers âreasonable opportunityâ to eat and use restrooms (Vermont Department of Labor 2019). Minnesota employers must allow âadequate timeâ for workers to use the ânearest convenientâ restroom in every 4-hour period at work (Office of the Revisor of Statutes 1988). In Iowa, employees must be able to take toilet breaks when needed (Iowa Division of Labor n.d.). A proposed Illinois bill would give transit vehicle operators 10 minutes every 4 hours to use the nearest convenient restroom on a paid break; unions and their employers could bargain breaks for different time periods (Employment.Laws.com 2019). Other Applicable U.S. Rules Allyâs Law, or the Restroom Access Act (RAA), has been passed in 16 states as of early 2020 (Tresca 2020). The intent is to help people who need to use restrooms urgently do so without embarrassment and without accidents. Under this law, businesses must let people use employee washrooms if they have specified medical conditions and present the relevant card. The condi- tions of concern usually involve the digestive system (e.g., Crohnâs disease, inflammatory bowel disease, an ostomy device); some states include pregnancy. While the RAA does not directly address vehicle operators, it is a helpful adjunct to more formal arrangements. Canadian Workplace Regulations There is no consistent approach to restroom access across Canada, where health and safety is a provincial or territorial responsibility (Government of Canada 2015). Most health and safety laws or regulations cover the number of toilets required and how they are to be kept clean, but not frequency or ease of access. Others state that employers âmust not place unreasonable restrictions on a workerâs use of, or access toâ restrooms, and âmust ensure that a toilet facility is located so that it is readily accessible to the workers who may use itâ (Government of Alberta, Canada 2009). Figure 2-7 illustrates a comprehensive list of requirements. Eight provinces and territories define workplaces as including mobile vehicles. Some jurisdictions require employers to provide restroom facilities where âreasonably prac- ticable.â The employer must assess the costs (in time, trouble, and money) of taking action or doing little or nothing; there must be a âgross disproportionâ between the two before it is not reasonably practicable to provide or arrange bathroom access (Rankin et al. 2008).
40 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access More generally, management and worker roles in ensuring restroom access are supported by the health and safety program requirements for many employers across the country. Typically, employers must consult the workplace joint health and safety committee (or worker repre- sentative) about issues related to health and safety. The committees and representatives have a range of responsibilities, such as taking complaints, inspecting worksites, reviewing occupa- tional health and safety activities and programs, and making recommendations to employers. Unreasonable restrictions to restroom access would also be limited by the general due diligence requirements that employers must meet to protect workersâ health and safety (CCOHS 2019). Organizational Good Practices The activities investigated for this project were more likely to be described by larger, union- ized TAs who took the issue seriously because they responded so strongly. However, the good practices distilled from the information provided by the TAs, LUs, and industry experts are, on the whole, designed to be scalable and elective. The practices and concerns that distinguished smaller TAs will be highlighted where they arose. In the follow-up interviews, it became clear that the TAs with the most active restroom groups had identified the key players and their leaders or contact points, made contact with the stake- holders they thought were important, and laid out a plan of actionâusually one including a written policy. These TAs, LUs and other industry sources provided insight into how TAs can implement the practices laid out in Box 2-2 to set the stage for effective action. In particular, having policies in writing made communicating expectations and assessing progress easier for those involved with assessing, planning for, and improving restroom access for transit operators. Good Practices: Stakeholders Contribute to Restroom Access Program For those initiating a restroom program, it is helpful to review the TAâs organizational chart in the context of restroom access to identify the groups and individuals who should play a role in restroom access issues. For example, following up on health and staffing issues iden- tified by the union some years back and on the loss of a reliable source of accessible restrooms as gas stations closed after the 1970s, a large TA set up a restroom access task force to coor- dinate needed activity and decisions. Its restroom access organizational chart was quite simple, REGULATION 91-191 5(7) An employer shall ensure that a toilet facility is a) within easy access of an employeeâs work site, b) enclosed so that an employee is sheltered from view and protected from the natural elements, c) adequately ventilated and illuminated, d) where possible, heated, e) kept in a clean and sanitary condition, f) provided with a sufficient supply of toilet paper and hygiene supplies, g) provided with a covered waste receptacle, h) maintained in working condition, and i) in the case of a self-contained unit, is emptied and serviced at intervals which ensure that the unit does not overflow. Source: Government of Alberta, Canada 2009. Figure 2-7. New Brunswick workplace restroom access requirements.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 41 as shown in Figure 2-8. Starting with the union and operations manage- ment, over time the TA folded in the roles of more and more depart- ments that contributed to the task forceâs success. Table 2-3 defines some of the roles each group of stakeholders can play in improving access to restrooms. Discussing the department and staff roles and what they might contribute to the restroom access pro- cess is one good way to recruit engagement as stakeholders begin to think about whether the issue matters to them, how much they currently do, and how they might contribute. This table is available in Transit Operator Restroom Access Planning Tools under the tab âInput by Departmentâ and can be edited to create targeted surveys. In most TAs, people play more than one of the roles described in Table 2-3. At the smallest extreme, the director of transportation served as the restroom access coordinator, as the operator champion in the absence of a union, as the interface to the municipal council and as an on-the-spot Box 2-2. Organizational Policies and Practices Acknowledge and involve stakeholders. â¢ Review organizational chart in the context of restroom access. â¢ Recruit engagement. â¢ Engage external stakeholders. Encourage operators to use restrooms as needed. â¢ Establish written policy supporting adequate scheduled layovers. â¢ Establish written policy supporting adequate unscheduled and off-property restroom use. â¢ Establish written policy of no disciplinary action for restroom-related delays. â¢ Define and publish call-in policy and codes. â¢ Distribute notifications and memos endorsing policy to operators and supervision. â¢ Cover issues in all modes. Manage and funds staff resources. â¢ Define and support staff roles. â¢ Designate a coordinator or point person. â¢ Schedule meetings to discuss issues (operational and interdepartmental). â¢ Dedicate staff time to restroom concerns. â¢ Establish restroom committee to coordinate input and decisions. â¢ Provide paid release time for operators. Assess restroom-related needs and issues. â¢ Determine what titles, routes, and times have restroom access issues. â¢ Explore restroom access history. â¢ Collect data on related costs and impacts. â¢ Define special needs and situations that may need accommodation. Acknowledge and involve stakeholders. â¢ Review organizational chart in the context of restroom access. â¢ Recruit engagement. â¢ Engage external stakeholders.
42 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access Figure 2-8. SFMTA organizational chart. Management leadership Big picture insights on how restroom access affects operations, safety and health, and public. Motivates rest of organization. Represents it to the public. Issues to consider include costs, productivity, scheduling, software, capital planning, driver retention, safety, and collective bargaining. Department or Stakeholder Group Provides This to Restroom Access Process Union leadership and representatives Bigger picture answers to: How is the current restroom practice working? On what routes, times, locations do drivers have restroom concerns? What policies are effective, what lacking? Are there management practices that make it hard for operators to access restrooms? What should be the role of the union in the TAâs restroom program? Who in the union should participate more? Motivate management. Set expectations. Capital planning/ architecture Details on how planned changes in infrastructure affect restroom resources, current or potential. Issues to consider include coordinating capital planning with transit planning, new routes, changes in demand, and overhauling facilities versus rebuilding. Plant/infrastructure Details on how TA buildings and other infrastructure affect restroom resources. Issues to consider include existing problems, staff demands, and costs. Bus operations Answers to: What is the impact on operations planning and delivery? What specific problems are you aware of? Do operators report limited restroom access as a cause of absence in paratransit? How do you collect information on issues? Insight on how operations coordinate with other departments in order to maintain scheduled service. Rail operations Answers to: How does restroom access affect rail vehicle operators? Do you use relief drivers at stations for operators who need to use the restroom? How does that work (call ahead, person always available)? Is there any sign that drivers get caught out when needing a restroomâsuch as urine smell, bottles? Do operators report limited restroom access as a cause of absence in rail? Paratransit operations Answers to: How does restroom access affect paratransit operators? Are there any problems with restroom access at drop-off or pick-up points? Are there complaints from operators or clients? Do operators report limited restroom access as a cause of absence in paratransit? Dispatch Overview on how vehicle operator restroom access affects service delivery, including traffic-related and other delays that reduce layover time, operator relief staff, and operator needs. Answers to: Is there a pressure on dispatchers to ensure on-time delivery? Table 2-3. Roles in improving restroom access.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 43 relief driver when they felt the operator needed a short break. In a medium-sized TA, a planner and a scheduler carried out most of the direct restroom access responsibilities but had a list of the people they would call on in each department as needed. Most of the roles defined in the table are discussed in the chapters on planning, scheduling, and service delivery. Operatorsâ roles are considered in all chapters. Relationships can be complex when operations groups overlap, as in a case where two managing companies ran different parts of a large system owned by a municipality. TA staff controlled route planning and capital construction and coordinated activity on overarching service-related concerns, such as restroom access. Their restroom committee called on participation from both contractors, and the TA depended heavily on the commitment of an individual from the plan- ning department who formalized the input of the many stakeholders, reaching out to them and defining their roles. Even where the right stakeholders are involved from the perspective of the TA, inadequate communication can interfere not only with the perception of restroom issues, but also with Department or Stakeholder Group Provides This to Restroom Access Process Human resources Answers to: How does restroom access affect operator health and operator retention? What related collective bargaining issues have you addressed? Are accommodations established for specific conditions? Do employees report limited restroom access as a cause of absence from work? Vehicle operators (bus/rail/paratransit) Answers to: How is the current restroom practice working? On what routes, times, locations are there restroom concerns? What policies are effective, what lacking? Are there management practices that make it hard to access restrooms? Have you ever missed work because of restroom access concerns (other than illness that should keep you home)? Womenâs committee (union and TA) Answers to: How is restroom access different for women? Are any accommodations made for pregnancy or menstruation? What provision is made for drivers to access or dispose of sanitary products? What should be the role for this committee in the TAâs restroom program? TA or municipal board Support for or barriers to proposed changesâfor example, funding, direction on capital development, collective bargaining. Passengers and the community at large Input on impact of restroom location, service concerns. Support and understanding for vehicle operators, especially in unscheduled use. Need for restroom access. Vehicle maintenance/ cleaning Answers to: Does vehicle operator restroom lead to any problems for cleaning or maintenance staff? Do they encounter soiling of operator seats or other areas of the vehicle, have concerns about infection, need to change or replace seats? Do you have any written policies or protocols about this? Route planning Details on how planning is linked with restroom availability. Issues to consider are new routes, changes in passenger demand, changes in facilities, connections with park and rides, transit hubs, matching routes to existing restroom facilities, and the potential of temporary and shared facilities. Service scheduling Insight into scheduling flexibility and tolerances. Issues include adding time for unplanned breaks, dwell time, strategies to adjust for regular breaks, runcut software, parameters for layovers (fixed amount of time versus percentage of running time), restroom locations, and cost implications for scheduled and unscheduled breaks. Safety/safety committee Safety or health issues relative to restroom access. Things to consider are motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls on paths, leaving the bus unattended with/without customers on the bus, fare box theft, and assaults. Answers to: Does the type of restroom make a differenceâfor example, portables? What should be the role for this department/committee in the TAâs restroom program? Police/security Answers to: How does operator restroom access affect safety and security concerns? Is public use of restrooms a concern? Has this changed because of increased overall security restrictions? How are key, card, code access, or other security measures working out? Table 2-3. (Continued).
44 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access understanding who is taking what actions. In the project teamâs survey, LU leaders were much more likely than management to say that no one was involved in solving restroom issues (17% of LUs compared with 4% of TAs). In 14 agencies where surveys were completed by both the LU and the TA, LUs reported about one fewer contributing department on average. They may not have been aware of who was involved, or they may not have been confident that the problems were in fact being solved. In supporting the first possibility, the difference between each pair of sources, TA and LU, ranged from five fewer departments to four more. In addition, the vocabularies of the different stakeholders are important. For example, if restroom access is conceived of as providing breaks, then decision-makers may miss other logistical considerations, such as allowing room for unscheduled breaks, planning with rest- rooms in mind, contracting for on-route facilities, cleaning and maintenance, vehicle safety, and involving transit operators in these decisions. There are many other potential partners affected by, using, or interested in public transit. As with internal partners, the restroom team will at some point need to engage external stake- holders. That means identifying stakeholder groups, understanding their interests and roles, coordinating activities and calendars so as not to miss important decision points, and enlisting their support. Public organizations are critical decision-makers, both in terms of issues affecting the juris- diction widely and in transit budgets and planning decisions. Many TAs are well integrated organizationally into county and municipal structures where planning takes place across departments. In Seattle, restroom access concerns for operators were raised in a city-wide committee meeting on homeless issues because portable restrooms have been vandalized and operators sometimes feel unsafe. At the Capital Area Transportation Authority in North Dakota, TA staff presented information to transportation boards or city councils about what changes were needed. More often, it is LU members or leaders who do this. Examples of how TAs have engaged the community at large are discussed further in the context of infrastructure and development in Chapter 3. Passengers and the public generally are important sources of information on the impact of restroom location and on their service concerns. They can be brought to provide support and understanding for vehicle operators. This is especially important for unscheduled use of rest- rooms, which adds uncertainty to passengersâ commutes. Several TAs have worked to reduce friction between operators and passengers. Approaches include reducing contradictions between schedules as posted and as achieved (by realistically allowing for needed delays), holding town hall meetings to discuss placement of facilities, and including restroom stop messages in their automated announcements so passengers are aware of the operatorsâ very human needs. Passengers also need access to restrooms in some places, and this was considered a problem by 35 of the 114 survey participants. As one TA put it â[TA] does not provide passenger access to restrooms due to cost and security concerns. This is a repeated concern from our customers.â This opinion was consistently repeated: opening restrooms to the public poses health and safety concerns. Public restroom access may be more critical in subway systems, where passengers cannot easily leave to use other publically accessible restrooms. Some state regulations require transit facilities to provide access to public restrooms; for example, Virginia requires two toilets for every 500 people, one designated male and one female (State of Virginia 2012). WMATA has struggled for years to provide customer restroom access that is limited to customers in an emergency situation, children, and the elderly or physically disabled (Powers 2016). Industry experts were interested in the value of addressing restroom access beyond the transit setting. A more comprehensive or community-focused approach would plan for restroom access for other drivers (e.g., delivery, taxis) and for the general public and would
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 45 facilitate access for transit employees. In a survey of people throughout Portland, Oregon, regarding their feelings about public restrooms and their likelihood of using public transit, most respondents did not agree that having more access to public restrooms would increase their use. They felt that the city should provide public restrooms, not the public transit system or private businesses. This led to the conclusion that, with the city unlikely to increase its budgets, the likelihood of having more public restrooms was slim without outside support for something like a publicâprivate partnership (Washington 2014). All of these examples of finding and bringing together stakeholders should establish the framework for the policies and processes that make up the restroom access program. Good Practices: Operators Use Restrooms as Needed Management has an open commitment that if you need to go to the bathroom, you go. It is a funda- mental right to use the washroom. âUnion President The human right to sanitation entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have physical and afford- able access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, socially and culturally accept- able and that provides privacy and ensures dignity, while reaffirming that both rights are components of the right to an adequate standard of living . . . including for menstrual hygiene management. (United Nations General Assembly 2016, pp. 3/6, 4/6) The core element for achieving restroom access that supports opera- tor health, vehicle safety, and operations is a policy that confirms the right to use the restroom when needed. Restroom access without unreasonable delay is an OSHA requirement as well as an inter- nationally recognized human right. Most TAs have at least an unwritten expectation that operators will use restrooms on a regular basis. Unscheduled restroom use is usually accepted as well, in principle, but operators and others frequently report limitations. Figure 2-9 illustrates the policies that apply for bus operators, who made up the majority of respondents. Bus operators and most TAs were allowed to make unscheduled stops along routes, as were operators in rail (62%) and paratransit (88%) (data not shown.) Less than half of the bus operator survey sample had written policies on call-in procedures. About 40% of TAs had policies covering route deviations, but this prac- tice was typically not allowed. Because of the confusion and, sometimes, mistrust that can occur, as discussed earlier, it is important to establish written policy support- ing adequate scheduled layovers and unscheduled and off-property restroom use. A written policy helps ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page. Policies often define a call-in process and codes that help operators and supervision communicate as well as establish expectations. The basic policy shown in Fig- ure 2-10, contributed by a medium-sized TA, provides guidance to operators, supervisors, and dispatchers on the commitment of the TA to unscheduled restroom access. It addresses expectations for vehicle operators and for supervision and provides a way to reduce embar- rassment with a recorded message. This text is available in âTemplates for Restroom Access Policies and Boiler plate Contract Language.â In higher-pressure situations, such as rush hour or regular long trips, an informal or even a basic written policy may well be neglected. Many vehicle operators and supervisors also reported schedule pressure throughout the day, whether from supervision or from the driverâs desire to get passengers where they need to be. Encourage operators to use restrooms as needed. â¢ Establish written policy supporting adequate scheduled layovers. â¢ Establish written policy supporting adequate unscheduled and off- property restroom use. â¢ Establish written policy of no disciplinary action for restroom-related delays. â¢ Define and publish call-in policy and codes. â¢ Distribute notifications and memos endorsing policy to operators and supervision. â¢ Cover issues in all modes.
46 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 None Informal Written Call in to dispatchers Unscheduled stops Route deviations Disciplined for breaks Disciplined for delays Figure 2-9. Survey results for bus operators: Percentage of TAs with policies. Bus Operator Restroom Access Basic Policy 1.0 Policy Statement TA operators will be required to take restroom stops during the course of their duties. TA supervisory staff is expected to be mindful of this basic need and must exercise good judgment. 2.0 Expectations TA exists to serve our customers by providing safe, reliable, and courteous service. Restrooms and recovery time are provided at the ends of routes where possible. Where this is not practical, on-line commercial facilities are identified. Stops to use facilities are necessary, but as much as possible should minimize the impact to customers. Customer communication is an important part of an operatorâs duties, and managing expectations helps customers understand the reason for delay. As a courtesy to our customers, please advise your passengers of the following when leaving your bus, while in service, to take a restroom stop: âThe bus will be stopped for (mention approximate time you will be away from the bus, in minutes).â Operators may use the busâ public address system to make this announcement. Alternatively, operators can use the following prerecorded "canned message" available through the MDT [mobile data terminal]: âThe bus will be stopped momentarily. Please be patient.â 3.0 Responsibilities When stopping a bus to use the restroom, operators are reminded to please ensure that 3.1 The bus is stopped and safely secured by applying the maxi-break, placing the bus in neutral, and releasing the rear door; 3.2 The bus is legally parked in a safe location that does not obstruct traffic; 3.3 The delay to passengers is minimized; and 3.4 Adherence to the service schedule is not unnecessarily affected. 4.0 Supervisory Responsibilities When investigating any complaint or service impact, supervisory staff is expected to exercise good judgment, as the use of a restroom is expected. Figure 2-10. Basic policy boilerplate.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 47 The basic policy does not address the important roles, considerations, and practices that sup- port restroom access, especially in larger organizations. Figure 2-11 provides the outline of a more complete policy document, adapted from that produced by a large TA. The detailed policy, found in âTemplates for Restroom Access Policies and Boilerplate Contract Language,â can be adapted to suit any TAâs needs. Notification and memos sent to operators and supervision to endorse policies further strengthen good practice and help clarify expectations. Even when good policies and practices have been established, it is also necessary to demonstrate support directly to the operators. A service delivery director was surprised to hear from the LU leader that the strong policy on restroom access was not as successful as both expected. The explanation? Bus operators were either not familiar with the policy or not confident in standing up for themselves. The director drafted and posted the memo in Figure 2-12 to increase operatorsâ comfort with taking urgent unscheduled stops. Following this, the LU also posted information about managementâs support for restroom access. Last but not least, the core policy needs to consider issues for operators in all modes. Even in multimodal TAs, the bus department or bus service planning was typically tasked with restroom access responsibilities. In one case, the restroom access coordinator reported on the project survey that his or her program did not work closely with the transit rail division. However, within months, the effects of restroom-related train delays when terminal facilities were not maintained had become a major concern. Addressing the very different needs of the different modes could require separate decision groups, participation of rail or paratransit stakeholders as needed, or regular roles on the restroom access committee. Detailed Transit Operator Restrooms Policy 1. SUBJECT TITLE: Transit Operator Restrooms Policy 2. PURPOSE: To establish official Transit Division policies, procedures, and guidelines for the establishment, operation, and maintenance of properly equipped restrooms and to ensure operatorsâ access to those restrooms. 3. ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED: 4. REFERENCES: 5. DEFINITIONS: 6. POLICIES: 6.1. Commitment 6.2. Operator Restroom Conditions Guidelines 6.3. Bus Operator Restroom Access Guidelines 6.4. Transit Rail [Other Fixed Guideway] Restroom Access Guidelines 6.5. Paratransit Restroom Access Guidelines 6.6. Portable Restroom Policy 7. PROCEDURES: 8. RESPONSIBILITIES: 8.1. The [Restroom Coordinator/Field Supervisor/Restroom Committee]âs Role 8.2. Service Development Sectionâs Role 8.3. Design and Construction Sectionâs Role 8.4. Service Quality UnitâFirst-Line Supervisor Role Figure 2-11. Comprehensive restroom access policy.
48 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access Good Practices: Transit Agency Provides and Funds Staff Resources Ideally, departmental and staff roles in the restroom access process are defined and supported in the written policy. Cooperation is quite possible without a formal agreement, but the absence of one can result in conflicts with other organizational pressures, such as costs or on- time service delivery. For example, the scheduling staff at several TAs explained how they adjusted dwell times on the basis of their knowledge of restroom resources at the stops, only to have the schedules tightened again when service changes were implemented. With a formal role in the process, they might have had a more lasting impact. Management Commitment from senior management is absolutely critical to develop- ing a successful program. In some cases, securing and maintaining that com- mitment will be easy. In other cases, the staff of the enterprise may need to brief the chief executive and board regarding the role employers should play (Gertler et al. 2002). This comment was made about fatigue management programs, but it applies equally to restroom access. As with most issues that can have an impact on service, upper management must champion supportive policies and practices to ensure effective planning and implementation for restroom access. This encourages operations supervision to do so as well. Without top-level support, no one else will take initiatives seriously for long. The leaders also need to reach out to external stakeholders to emphasize and explain why restroom access should be taken seriously. Beyond commitment and championing, TA leaders often have experience with the indus- try, with service demands, with driving, and with supervising drivers. Other management staff and union representatives voiced strong support for the leaders who displayed hands-on knowledge and sympathy for real-world work demands. That kind of commitment was strongly demonstrated by most of the CEOs and other leaders who provided the information for this project. (It is not clear that this holds true in other TAs, as those who do not care as much may not have chosen to participate in this project.) Local Union If the unions are doing negotiations and try to get specific language toward restroom breaks, itâs usually met with great resistance, throughout the industry. A few places have some language, but not what it should be. Most of the fault lies at the management level. âScheduler Industry Expert It has been brought to managementâs attention that some Operators do not feel that they have managementâs support regarding taking restroom breaks and that they feel they must place the schedule ahead of their own needs. TA does not expect any Operator to compromise his or her health or safety by delaying a restroom break to stay on schedule. While staying on schedule and providing good customer service are important, your health is more important. If you need to stop to relieve yourself, please do. If you have to step away at the end of the line to use the restroom and this means leaving the Transit Center late, so be it. If your assignment consistently does not allow for you to take a restroom break, please pass that information on so that we can work with planning to see what adjustments can be made. If you have any questions regarding this information, see me or any Assistant Manager. Figure 2-12. Memo confirming restroom access policy. Manage and fund staff resources. â¢ Define and support staff roles. â¢ Designate a coordinator or point person. â¢ Schedule meetings to discuss issues (operational and interdepartmental). â¢ Dedicate staff time to restroom concerns. â¢ Establish restroom committee to coordinate input and decisions. â¢ Provide paid release time for operators.
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 49 LU leaders are a driving force on restroom concerns across the United States and Canada. In addition to publicizing their concerns through newsworthy actions, they raise the issues faced by vehicle operators in laborâmanagement discussions and in the press. Coordinated LU action is behind many of the TAs with restroom programs that participated in this projectâ for example, drop-shaped pins and handouts explaining the problem at TriMet and diapers worn outside the clothes in many locations. At the same time, some TA leaders found this distasteful or even misleading. There was a broad range of participation by LU leaders in TA restroom activities among the survey respondents. LU leaders served on restroom committees or designated operators to do so. Sometimes they supported the participation of operators that management selected and, at others, felt quite shut out from the decisions whether operators were on the committee or not. In smaller TAs, the LU officers (often still working as operators) said that their direct contact with an operations manager or transportation director made a difference for their members. Management at some TAs reported working with the union to establish lists of available restrooms and on scheduling and planning committees that were conduits for restroom concerns. At the narrowest level of involvement, management dealt directly with selected vehicle operators, as acknowledged services experts or as average sources, in non- union or in union environments. Union representatives often felt they and the operators themselves were not as directly involved as they should be in day-to-day planning and service decisions made by operations management, by planners, and by schedulers. The difficulties in achieving the changes union leaders and vehicle operators feel are neces- sary were acknowledged by the industry experts and, sometimes, by management. However, as shown, collective bargaining language covering access rules and expectations, schedule planning and recovery time, restroom maintenance, worker input, discipline, and communications have been negotiated at many TAs. Supporting Staff to Fulfill Their Roles The network of people involved in defining restroom needs for transit operators depends on the size, management style, and history of the TA. TAs reported between one and seven departments participating. Operations staff were almost always involved. About half of the TAs completing the project survey integrated service planning or scheduling staff, and fewer called on labor relations (41%) or on safety (34%). The most effective approaches were based on regularly scheduled operations and inter- departmental meetings to address restroom access for operators. Time pressures make it hard to schedule meetings. Among operations staff, restroom discussions are frequently ad hoc, and this can work well for the issues related to on-time service delivery and restroom maintenance. Planning, scheduling, and operations staff reported taking advantage of working near each other to raise and resolve issues in an ongoing way. We have an open-door policy here. The drivers are only 15 feet from my door. So anybody who wants to talk can come in and talk. âTransportation Superintendent Operations planners meet with the operators on pay days. We have an operations planner . . . in the training roomâthatâs where the operators pick up their block sheetsâat 4:00 in the morning every 2 weeks so operators can talk to us and tell us what is going on. We have an open-door policy that the operators come in and they tell us whatâs going on with the route. âPlanner Time committed by self-identified or designated restroom access coordinators ranged from 10% to 100% full-time equivalent. Only one TA in this project had a full-time, dedicated rest- room coordinator. That personâs work output was extensive, as was the funding and other support provided. They worked with a release time bus operator, held monthly committee
50 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access meetings, and were empowered to ask field operations staff to inspect restrooms, among many other things. As at this location, many TAs have set up restroom committees to evaluate issues and generate improvements. Support for the committee members includes making sure that all, including operators, are provided with paid release time to participate in meetings and in field work such as inspections. Figure 2-13 shows the well-defined, extensive network laid out by another large agency. The departments and the roles of the restroom program stakeholders are shown in an interaction that identifies the roles of all internal parties and includes external partners and vendors for shared or leased restroom facilities. The program is centered on a full-time restroom coordi- nator who both carries out the practical tasks of assessing restroom needs and availability and coordinates the actions of the other parties. A release-time bus operator rotates into the position every 12 months. Other stakeholders at this TA include rail and bus operators (participating in part via regular restroom access committee meetings), operations administration, the LU leader ship, design and construction, service development (scheduling, route planning, and capital planning), and special projects. The roles here are highly specified, and, in practice, there is much overlap, as the outer boxes of Figure 2-13 suggest. The restroom access coordinator and committeeâhowever they are named and staffedâalso carry out the needs assessment tasks and data collection described in the next section. Identifying resources and solutions is covered in Chapter 3. Good Practices: Restroom Team Assesses Restroom-Related Needs and Issues The different stakeholders will have varying approaches to what titles, routes, and times have restroom access issues. Existing infor- mation is often available from operations (on-time delivery concerns, operatorsâ complaints), dispatch (call-ins), human resources (retention or disability concerns), planning and scheduling (comments or data derived from periodic depot tabling or schedule committees). LU rep- resentatives and, of course, vehicle operators can speak to all of these areas. The questions listed in Table 2-3 and the spreadsheet âInput by Departmentâ in the Transit Operator Restroom Access Planning Tools workbook can be converted to surveys for each group, as shown in Figure 2-14. Some teams will want to explore the TAâs restroom access history. Several TAs had carried out restroom campaigns because of serious events that had occurred in the pastâsanitation standard citations, labor conflicts, and acci- dents. The initiatives were not always sustained. In the current incarnations, they sometimes found themselves reinventing forms and data structures or pulling them out of mothballs. For people who may be newly involved in the issue, it makes sense to see what was done in the past and what tools were used. The next step is to work with the important divisions to collect data on related costs and impacts. There are spreadsheets in Transit Operator Restroom Access Cost Estimation Tools for recording restroom inventory cost, direct operating costs, other direct costs, administrative costs, and capital costs. A summary page links these to create charts and tables for total costs. This tool is discussed in detail in Chapter 6. Most TAs were willing to think about measuring the health impact of restroom access, although none had done so. The spreadsheet âCosts Benefits Betaâ covers the cost categories F14 Assess restroom-related needs and issues. â¢ Determine what titles, routes, and times have restroom access issues. â¢ Explore restroom access history. â¢ Collect data on related costs and impacts. â¢ Define special needs and situations that may need accommodation.
Figure 2-13. Transit agency detailed organizational structure with restroom roles.
52 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access General Restroom Survey for Vehicle Operators (To be adapted with specifics for bus/rail/paratransit if needed.) How often do you face problems with workplace restrooms? Never Once or twice a month Weekly Once a day More frequently On what routes, times, and locations do you have restroom concerns? (add on back if additional locations) Route Stop or area Times of day or days of week What is the problem? (for example, no access, time at stop, safety, cleanliness) Are you aware of the current TA policy on restroom access for vehicle operators? Yes/No If yes: What policies are effective? What policies are good but not applied? What policies or practices are lacking? Are there management practices that make it hard to access restrooms? Yes/No If yes, please describe: Is there anything else that needs to be done to improve restroom access? Yes/No If yes, please describe: Do you have any health problems or concerns related to restroom access at work? Yes/No If yes, what are they? Have you ever missed work because of restroom access concerns (other than illness that should keep you home such as diarrhea)? Yes/No If yes, what was the problem? Could someone contact you with any follow-up questions? Yes/No If yes, please provide your name, work location, and phone number or email address. Figure 2-14. Example of roles tool converted to survey format. that might be affected, including specific disease costs, premium changes, operator availability, retention, and vehicle or employee accidents. This is presented as a beta version because industry experts warned that attributing cases of common diseases, or accidents, specifically to restroom access is bound to be difficult and may be unreliable. However, the TAâs health plan manage- ment company might have information about the distribution of health problems by title or other risk factors that could provide some insight. Working with regional TA groups or with union benefit funds might help generate better estimates. Academic research groups might be interested in supporting the TA in evaluating the health or safety impact. TAs often neglect to define special needs and situations that may need accommodation. Rather than publishing a policy, they typically require the individual to come forward with a
Organizational Context of Restroom Access 53 request. Conditions could include pregnancy, prostate health, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer treatmentâsome temporary and some longer lasting. TAs talked about women being especially concerned about personal safety. Again, a written policy avoids confusion. From Organization to Infrastructure The organizational environment can be like the air we breatheâessential to keep healthy, but mostly unseen and unexamined. Developing policies and procedures that are based on the combined contributions of the relevant stakeholders gives transit organizations a way to clarify how things are done, or should be done, and to make sure everyone is on the same page. The next step is to make sure that available resources meet the needs of the vehicle operators and the entire organization. Chapter 3 defines the infrastructure considerations, including geography, the built environment, transit service interfaces, and capital planning.