New Washington state law ensures restroom access

May 16, 2023

Keith Goble


A first-of-its-kind law in Washington state is intended to give truck drivers operating in the state assurances of restroom access. It takes effect on July 23.

The Washington Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the American Trucking Associations worked together in the state to educate legislators about the need for truck drivers to have restroom access.

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a bill requiring shippers and consignees to make restrooms available for truck drivers. The bill, HB1457, swept through the statehouse by unanimous consent.

The new law defines a consignee as a business or person who takes delivery of property from a motor carrier in interstate or intrastate commerce.

Restroom rules revised

One year ago, Gov. Inslee signed into law a bill to require terminal operators to provide “a sufficient number of restrooms” for use by drayage truckers in areas of the terminal that operators typically have access. Areas covered in the rule include inside the gate and truck queuing lots.

Restrooms could include fixed bathrooms or portable toilets.

Terminal operators are deemed in compliance with the rule once a policy is in place to allow drayage truckers to leave their vehicles at “reasonable times and locations” for purposes of access to restrooms.

Facilities must be where access would not pose an “obvious health or safety risk” to the user.

Drayage truck operators accessing the terminal for the purpose of loading, unloading, or transporting cargo are covered by the rule.

At the time, OOIDA asked legislators to add language that would include shippers and receivers in the requirement for providing restroom access. Despite the Association’s efforts, the language was not included in the final version.

Expanded application approved

Rep. Eric Robertson, R-Sumner, brought the issue back before lawmakers this year. His pursuit includes shippers and consignees in the restroom access requirement.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh says the new law covers a daily dilemma for truck drivers.

“Using a restroom is about the most basic thing that any person could ask for during their workday,” Pugh previously communicated to legislative leaders. “But unbelievably, professional drivers are frequently denied restroom access when they are picking up or delivering cargo.”

During normal business hours, shippers or consignees are required to allow restroom access to a motor carrier delivering goods to or picking up goods.

Restrooms are defined as being intended for use by customers or employees of the shippers or consignees.

Two conditions are included:

  • The restroom must be where providing access would not create an obvious health or safety risk to the user, and
  • Allowing the user to access the restroom does not pose an obvious security, health, or safety risk to the shipper, consignee or its employees.

A shipper or consignee is permitted to have an employee accompany a motor carrier to the restroom.

The Washington State Department of Health is responsible for enforcement.

Shippers or consignees that fail to follow the rule could face $125 fines when the violation occurs after a notice of correction is received.

Jeff DeVere of the WTA told a Senate committee the primary reason for the pursuit “is about access, not about enforcement.” LL

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