Are the pink portable toilets a sign of a change in attitude on the site?
It may not be the traditional welcome mat, but pink portable toilets are emerging as a sign of a change in attitude on construction sites as more women enter the market. construction site.
A survey conducted by the BC Construction Association indicates that the industry is increasingly diverse, with 10,667 certified tradeswomen now working in construction in the province. Women now represent 6.2 percent of the workforce, an increase of 35 percent over a five-year period.
âI started noticing about three years ago that companies were asking for gender units onsite,â said Jason Doell, owner of Kelowna Interior Rentals, which offers pink portable toilets. “We have ordered a lot of stock (pink) to meet the ongoing demands for them on the job site.”
Doell said the female-specific portable toilets differ from the men’s units in that they have the urinal removed while both are filled with the usual toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Portable toilets with the characteristic huge rose are popping up all over Canada and the United States. “We have a specific pink toilet – it’s a unit that only women use.”
Much like in British Columbia, Henituik said designated toilets are mandated by Alberta’s occupational health and safety regulations and most large companies now comply. But, he thinks there could still be more enforcement to ensure regulatory compliance, as women are more common on sites today. Women are still reluctant to complain, he said.
Companies also need to be better educated and responsive to the needs of women in the workplace, said Henituik. When a company orders portable toilets without any reference to both sexes, they often offer a pink unit at a discounted price just to raise awareness of the availability of the units and how these units meet the specific needs of women.
Handi-Can’s pink units also have the urinal removed but come with a wall shelf and mirror. The company also provides bags for personal hygiene products that cannot be placed in portable toilets. Where businesses fail, said Henituik, is that they fail to put a trash can outside the toilet so women don’t have to carry bagged hygiene items in a dumpster elsewhere. on the site. âOtherwise, the bags are not used,â he said, and disposal companies struggle with clogged lines when emptying portable units.
Henituik said COVID played a role in the toilet separation educational process. In the worst case, the trades will arrive on site and use the general contractor‘s facilities. âThe toilet is where you are going to experience cross contamination,â he said. On more aware sites, the businesses will order their own installations and will limit themselves to using these installations.
It is common to place locks on women’s units and provide women on site with access keys. But this practice has spread to most construction site toilets during COVID, as it also prevents non-construction workers from using the facilities.
Henituik said Handi-Can also offers heated units, including roses, for use on construction sites during the winter. âThey go pretty fast in the winter,â he said, although they are more expensive. There are also crane units that can be elevated to the upper levels of high rise construction sites.
Gender-specific units can also prevent harassment or graffiti directed at women, as the walls of portable urinals turn into impromptu pictures for the discontented. âI’ve never seen a female unit come back with graffiti,â said Kyle Frederkind, Territory Manager for British Columbia’s Maple Leaf Disposal. Her company isn’t rolling out pink toilets, but puts a sticker on female-use units and modifies them with a sink and treadle pump for water, paper towels and a trash can. Male units are another story with graffiti. âUsually it’s co-workers or supervisors,â he said, but he saw it all in terms of the script and the graphics.
There may also be a difference in the level of cleanliness required by women, as Frederkind admits that some of the men’s units can get extremely messy and can double as a trash can when employees can’t find an easy trash can. âYou want to be comfortable and not go into something that looks like a bomb has gone off,â he said.
Frederkind said he noticed an increase in demand for gender units about five years ago and that it has continued. Frederkind, who previously worked in transporting cranes on construction sites, has seen more women appear on construction sites. âIt’s really transcended in the last five years – it’s been a huge change,â he said. âNot just the women working on the construction site, but women in positions of power such as supervisors. “