Frequently asked questions

Why a sanitation toolkit?

Preventing injury and ill health for all transport workers is a key concern for the ITF. Lack of access to decent toilets and washing facilities is a major issue for transport workers, particularly women, and is extremely detrimental to their health, dignity and safety at work. The ITF regards access to sanitation as a workers’ right and a human right.

The ITF launched the Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter in November 2019 to address this problem. Since then, the ITF has been working with affiliates to build a campaign for uninhibited access to decent sanitary facilities for all transport workers.

There have already been many campaign successes using the Charter. To assist affiliates in implementing the demands of the Charter, the ITF has devised this toolkit.

How does the toolkit work?

The toolkit is designed to house resources surrounding sanitation rights. It includes the Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter, information about health risks, checklists for negotiators, survey templates and contract language, success stories, videos, photos, artwork and more.

The ITF will continue to develop the toolkit as the campaign develops.

Where can I find the ITF Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter?

The full text of the Charter, which sets out its demands of international bodies, governments and employers can be found here.

For ease of reference, the following sections of the Charter are presented as separate documents:

I am worried about Covid-19 especially as personal hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of this and other diseases. Has the ITF published any guidance?

Guidance for trade union negotiators

Preventing the spread of Covid-19 among workers and the wider community, including through effective hygiene, creates a new urgency for transport workers, unions, employers and governments. 

As more countries enforce lock-down, some examples of risks to transport workers include:

  • Drivers being on the road for long hours with no access to toilets and washing facilities.
  • Women seafarers may not have access to sanitary products while stranded in a foreign country with no freedom of movement.
  • Public transport workers face working long shifts and high levels of exposure to the virus with limited or no access to sanitation facilities, which is exacerbated by closure of restaurants and cafes.
  • Some employers have been slow to implement hygiene and protective measures such as social distancing, including in warehouses and distribution centres where work and worker numbers may have increased because of higher demand.

In line with the principles of the ITF Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter that was launched on World Toilet Day 2019, the ITF has identified key areas for action by employers, governments and investors in transport projects in relation to Covid-19 and access to sanitation facilities for transport workers.

Employers – urgent necessary action includes:

  • Consulting with trade union representatives – both women and men – in developing and implementing risk assessments, clear policies, procedures and plans to deal with Covid-19, particularly in relation to the provision, cleaning, maintenance, accessibility and availability of workplace sanitary and washing facilities. The process should be inclusive and take account of transport workers’ (both women and men) specific needs such as pregnancy, disability, menopause and pre-existing health conditions. 
  • Providing information, instruction and training for workers about Covid-19, and hygiene and other preventative measures that have been jointly identified, such as social distancing.
  • Providing up to date contact information for reporting concerns without fear of victimisation or ridicule, publicised to all workers.
  • Reviewing and planning routes for mobile workers such as drivers to take account of available toilet and washing facilities, particularly given the closure of many public facilities upon which such workers often rely.
  • Working with their supply chains to facilitate access to sanitary and washing facilities for mobile workers visiting premises for collection or delivery.
  • Assessing, identifying and providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies free of charge for workers.  
  • Allowing workers reasonable opportunities during their working hours/schedules to use sanitary facilities promptly without loss of pay or other penalties.

Governments – urgent necessary action includes:

  • Developing clear legislation, policies and guidelines on the prevention of Covid-19 in workplaces in consultation with trade unions and employers’ organisations; paying particular attention to workers’ access to adequate sanitary facilities whenever they need to during their working day. 
  • Including women and men on Covid-19 public health and occupational health and safety advisory bodies.
  • Integrating a gender-responsive approach to legislation, policies and guidelines with particular attention to transport workers’ hygiene and the provision of sanitary and washing facilities at work.
  • Ensuring that such legislation, policies and guidelines identify corporate responsibilities to ensure clients and subcontractors are held accountable.
  • Implementing and promoting relevant ILO international labour standards and guidelines from other international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and applying these to the current crisis.  

Investors in transport projects – urgent necessary action includes:

  • Incorporating the rights to water and adequate sanitation into projects and loan programmes that are being implemented in response to the crisis.
  • Ensuring that when projects are being implemented appropriate sanitation and washing facilities are provided for workers, facilities are accessible, and that workers have adequate time to use them during their working hours.

Additional information:

ITF Transport Workers’ Sanitation Charter

ILO Standards and COVID-19

World Health Organisation - Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19

Women workers face additional impacts of inadequate sanitation facilities and access; do you have any resources that focus on women?
  • A toilet right is a human right for all transport workers. More information is available on the home page for the ITF’s sanitation campaign for all transport workers.
  • This report provides an unprecedented view of how domestic violence impacts the working lives of women workers, within and beyond transport sectors in India. It is based on survey data collected from October 2019 and May 2020 from 15,561 workers from across a range of India's employment sectors aged 15 years or older, of which 98% of respondents were women.
  • Information about the ITF’s Global Women’s Advocate Programme which trains women transport workers to become workplace women’s advocates, who support members in preventing  violence at work including gender based violence.  This includes many resources including films and podcasts.
What health risks are faced by transport workers as a result of lack of access to sanitary and washing facilities?

The health effects of lack of access can be severe. The Charter includes information on the health impacts (but note, this is not an exhaustive list).

Other sources of information include:

What are my rights to sanitation under national or international law, and are there any relevant legal cases?

The Sanitation Charter includes a summary of international laws onsanitation rights.

These sources include International Conventions and Authoritative Interpretations of Treaty Bodies, United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions, UN General Assembly Resolutions, UN Human Rights Council Independent experts’/special rapporteurs’ reports and guidelines, international political declarations, ILO Conventions (including those relevant to different sectors), ILO Recommendations and relevant ILO sectoral codes of practice and guidelines.

For information about relevant national laws and standards for your country please contact the relevant government department, for example the Ministry of Labour or the Health and Safety Authority.

Relevant Legal Case:
Union Incorporated v. Tantex Holdings Pty Ltd (Australia, 2020) FCA 12, found that workers (in this instance, restaurant workers) have a legal right, within reason, to take breaks to use the toilet or have a drink of water outside breaks allowed under a workplace agreement.

Here is a link to the judgement (in English only).

I want to carry out a survey at my workplace to find out what is really going on for women and men transport workers. Do you have any ideas?

Yes, you can visit our Resources page for survey and form templates.

I want to find out how long it takes my members to walk to their sanitary facilities. Do you have a tool which can help me?

Use this tool to calculate the break times needed to access the restroom, based on distance and other parameters you set.

The calculator uses estimated walking times from the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices' (MUTCD) guidance on walking speed. It also uses increments of 125 feet to provide a generic estimate of the time you need, without added times for specific stops.

To help you calculate your distance from a restroom,  some countries and cities map out where public toilets are available. These include:

My members have complained about the lack of sanitary facilities at work and not being able to use them when they need to. What steps could I take to investigate?

The Sanitation Charter includes a checklist for employers on requirements for decent sanitary facilities for transport workers which forms part of the demands of the Charter. You can see the negotiators checklist and more resources on our Investigations page.

Read the employers' checklist here.

I am negotiating an agreement with my employer about sanitary facilities at work including arrangements for toilet breaks. Do you have any model clauses I can use or adapt?

Yes, you can see some examples below. 

Extract from Model Agreement – access to facilities for road transport drivers (Unite the Union, UK):

It is widely recognised that a major issue for professional drivers is access to appropriate welfare facilities. In order to remedy this, (**company name**) and Unite have reached the following agreement.

This agreement seeks to ensure that there is no distinction between an employee of (**company name**) and any visiting worker when it comes to accessing facilities on our sites. In reaching this agreement the company and Unite recognise that access to toilets, washing and rest facilities is a basic right that should be available to all. There is a mutual responsibility on all parties to respect the facilities provided and make sure they are maintained properly.

This agreement confirms that any visiting driver has access to the same facilities as our core workforce.

Toilets that are currently available to core staff will be accessible to visiting drivers unless designated well maintained facilities are available on the premises for the use of lorry drivers. Both male, female and non gender specific toilets should be made available

As a minimum standard hot and cold water (or warm water) as well as soap will be available to ensure hygiene is maintained. If showers are available, including those that may be for office staff, these should also be available for drivers.


The company commits to ensuring that facilities are maintained and are cleaned and resupplied regularly. Any instance of abuse of facilities will be investigated and if individual drivers are identified as being responsible appropriate steps will be taken which could be refusal to access facilities in the future. This will only be done however when there is clear proof of abuse by an individual.

Extracts from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (USA) Report

Below are sample clauses for a toilet access agreement from urban transport.

Source: Adapted from Appendix 5 of Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access (2020)

The Company will ensure that available restrooms be on each bus line, which shall be available to all shifts. Employees must follow Company policy prior to leaving their buses unattended for such. TA (transit authority) agrees to furnish suitable restroom facilities on each line for the convenience of its employees, and to provide a suitable place for employees to get ice water. TA will furnish a current list of such places. TA will furnish a current list of such places. TA shall also supply a break area at reach rail station, wherever feasible.Restroom facilities shall be provided on all lines wherever practicable. Sanitary arrangements shall be maintained for all employees at the work location, with soap, towels, toilet paper and washing facilities supplied by the Company.

A letter of understanding states that management will use its best efforts to secure access at established restroom facilities. Adequate washroom facilities will be provided by the employer at the employer's establishment. Proper toilet facilities will be designated at or near the end of each route. In the event an operator must go off-route to use a designated toilet facility, they may do so. The employee will be required to contact the TCC (traffic control centre) via bus radio prior to leaving the assigned route and advising the TCC of the change. If the TCC does not answer by the time the employee arrives at the necessary rest stop, the employee shall call them back upon return to the bus.

[US legislation} Section 1.9A shall be written to read: The Authorities agree to continue to provide adequate, clean, safe and sanitary working conditions, in conformance with the standards of applicable law. The AUTHORITIES recognize deficiencies in providing sanitary and accessible restroom facilities for female operators throughout the system. Within thirty (30) days after the execution of this Agreement, the parties will meet to formalise a process to identify such deficiencies and provide such facilities where needed. Under no circumstance will the identified deficiencies extend beyond six (6) months from the execution of this Agreement.

The District will make available one or more legal toilets on each line at all times that buses are operating on the line. The District recognizes the desirability of locating toilet facilities on the outer extremities of the line. The Commission shall endeavor to arrange proper and appropriate lavatory accommodation free of charge for use by employees on the respective bus lines for Operators on duty. There shall be clearly designated toilets for women and men drivers. All District schedules will have built into them a recovery or layover time of five (5) minutes within each one (1) hour of running time. Because of traffic conditions, mechanical failures, and other related reasons, a five (5) minute recovery time cannot be guaranteed. All Operators will endeavor to maintain their schedules at all times. Operators will have reasonable paid time for restroom breaks and/or to stretch their bodies. The Commission shall endeavor to arrange proper lavatory accommodation on the respective bus lines for Operators on duty. Comfort stations shall be maintained at convenient spots on all lines and shall be kept in a sanitary condition by Metro. Portable facilities will not satisfy this requirement. Operators operating lines that currently do not satisfy this requirement will be allowed to stop in route and use restroom facilities with proper notification of Operations Control.

Scheduling and Recovery Time

All trips shall be scheduled so as to give the Bus Operator a reasonable recovery time at the end of the line. A layover shall be provided at the end of each route. Metro Transit shall construct its schedules so that a minimum of ninety-four percent (94%) of trips system-wide are provided with minimum recovery time of at least fifteen percent (15%) of revenue time and at least seven (7) minutes with the following exceptions.

The parties agree to establish a committee that will meet periodically to review and study issues involving terminal recovery time with the goal of reviewing the appropriateness of existing schedules. It is understood that no additional release time will be utilised relating to this committee.

All District schedules will have built into them a recovery or layover time of five (5) minutes within each one (1) hour of running time. Because of traffic conditions, mechanical failures, and other related reasons, a five (5) minute recovery time cannot be guaranteed. All Operators will endeavour to maintain their schedules at all times. Operators will have reasonable paid time for restroom breaks and/or to stretch their bodies. The Agency shall construct its schedules so as to provide operators a layover at both ends of each line to the maximum extent practicable, but there must be a layover at one end of the route. A minimum layover of five (5) minutes will be guaranteed at one end of the line on each round trip. A minimum layover scheduled on any round trip shall be ten (10) minutes except on pull out and turn in trips. Round trips with layover scheduled at both ends will meet the ten (10) minute minimum layover requirement with five (5) minutes recovery at one end and five (5) minutes at the other end

Worker input

A “Running Time Committee” shall be established as a Labour-Management subcommittee. The Running Time Committee shall oversee an annual system-wide running time update in which they will collect data to provide written recommendations on routes that need improvement so that Operators will have reasonable time for restroom breaks and/or to stretch their bodies. These written recommendations will be submitted to the Labour-Management Committee and Service Planning Division for consideration.

A task group under and reporting through the Union Management Committee in accordance with its terms of reference will be established to review areas of concern and situations where lavatory minimum access 1 hour after service start and 1 hour before service ends is not currently being met. Recommendations of the committee to be presented through the Union Management Committee. Funds not exceeding ($30,000 minus the cost of implementing fob access at D&R) will be made over the duration of this Collective Agreement available for implementation of recommended changes.

Inspections, updates and maintenance

The Employer shall maintain safe, sanitary and reasonable working conditions on all facilities and equipment and kept in a sanitary condition. Employees will cooperate by observing the simple rules of cleanliness.

The Commission shall post an updated listing of lavatory accommodations every three months. Further, the Commission shall endeavour to post an updated listing of lavatory accommodations, as appropriate, when there are service changes that impact the location of lavatory accommodations.

Comfort stations, as well as iced drinking water, shall be maintained at convenient places on all lines and shall be kept in a sanitary condition by Metro.

NOTE: this is not a model agreement. It is a list of sample clauses which could be included in, or modified for, an agreement between an affiliate and a transport employer. Some of the clauses refer to responsible transport bodies in the USA such as the Commission or District. The names of the responsible bodies will vary depending on local arrangements.

What does C190 say about sanitation?

C190 includes sanitation as part of the world of work. 
“This Convention applies to violence and harassment in the world of work occurring in the course of, linked with or arising out of work… (b) in places where the worker is paid, takes a rest break or a meal, or uses sanitary, washing and changing facilities;”
(Article 3)

C190 requires employers and governments to address work arrangements that increase the risk of violence and harassment. 

“Each Member shall take appropriate measures to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work, including:

(a) recognizing the important role of public authorities in the case of informal economy workers;

(b) identifying, in consultation with the employers’ and workers’ organizations concerned and through other means, the sectors or occupations and work arrangements in which workers and other persons concerned are more exposed to violence and harassment; and

(c) taking measures to effectively protect such persons” (Article 8)

C190 requires employers and governments to take measures to identify risks and hazards in the world of work and take measures to prevent them. 

Each Member shall adopt laws and regulations requiring employers to take appropriate steps commensurate with their degree of control to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment…:

(a) adopt and implement, in consultation with workers and their representatives, a workplace policy on violence and harassment;

(b) take into account violence and harassment and associated psychosocial risks in the management of occupational safety and health;

(c) identify hazards and assess the risks of violence and harassment, with the participation of workers and their representatives, and take measures to prevent and control them; and

(d) provide to workers and other persons concerned information and training, in accessible formats as appropriate, on the identified hazards and risks of violence and harassment and the associated prevention and protection measures, including on the rights and responsibilities of workers and other persons concerned… (Article 9)

R206 states that risk assessment should consider factors that increase the likelihood of violence and harassment. 

The workplace risk assessment referred to in Article 9(c) of the Convention should take into account factors that increase the likelihood of violence and harassment, including psychosocial hazards and risks. Particular attention should be paid to the hazards and risks that: 

(a) arise from working conditions and arrangements, work organization and human resource management, as appropriate…

(c) arise from discrimination, abuse of power relations, and gender, cultural and social norms that support violence and harassment. (Para 8)

These are resources developed to support affiliates in their campaigns for ratification and implementation of Convention 190:

Toolkit for trainers – a joint Global Union Federation resource

The Activity Workbook (available in French, Spanish and English)

The Facilitator guide (avaiable in French, Spanish and English)

Have there been any campaign actions around implementing the Charter and what can I do to campaign to implement decent sanitation rights and facilities?

Yes, please visit our Campaigns page to see information about other campaigns in addition to our campaign checklist.

Sanitation rights are HUMAN RIGHTS