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PA - Answers to Common Questions, Bathroom specific
During the yellow and green phases, are public libraries required to provide public restrooms?
If a building, such as a library, is open to the public, then public restroom access is required in accordance with its occupancy classification. Of consideration may be whether a library is operating with limited occupancy such that they may close a corresponding number of required restrooms. To make that determination, the library would need to look at their building plans to determine occupancy requirements, and in many cases, could contact their local building code official to discuss that information.
However, each library must also consider public health. The question of providing public restrooms does not solely pertain to Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) regulations. It also pertains to the Department of Health (DOH) pandemic orders. DOH orders impact the L&I requirements in that DOH orders will take precedence if a library is unable to safely comply with the restroom public accessibility requirements. Any decision by a library to temporarily modify operations, including public restroom accessibility, during re-opening phases to protect employee/public safety and comply with DOH orders and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance will need to be fact-specific based on the unique circumstances of the library building facility.
Libraries are encouraged to consult with their counsel in interpreting application of the restroom requirements and considering its operation in various re-opening phases in compliance with CDC guidance in order to determine whether it is advisable to limit access to restrooms upon balancing competing concerns about public safety and public access.
This guidance is derived from the adoption of L&I regulations in 1996 as authorized by the Restroom Equity Act. Thereafter, however, the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act repealed the Restroom Equity Act. Since 2004, the regulations authorized by the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act that are currently in place contain the Uniform Construction Code. The UCC has incorporated both Chapters 3 and 29 of the International Building Code of 2015 (IBC). 34 Pa. Code § 403.21(a)(1). (Please note: This UCC now references a more recent version of the IBC – previously, it had incorporated the IBC of 2009, but updates were made in 2019 to incorporate the IBC of 2015). The IBC of 2015 contains provisions that govern requirements for plumbing equipment and systems.
Construction and Renovation
Margaret Sullivan Studio