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Source of housing rules information supplied by the Washington Growers League in July, 2015.

Summary of Changes in 2015 WA State Dept. of Health Temporary Worker Housing Rules

Square Feet in Family shelters

  • 100 square feet are required per occupant in family shelters that have sleeping and cooking areas in the same room. Such dwelling may be converted by either providing a separator between sleeping and cooking areas or by removing cooking equipment from the family shelter.
  • 50 square feet are required per occupant in separate sleeping areas in family shelters. by either providing a separator between cooking and sleeping areas, or by removing cooking equipment from the family shelter.
  • Must be done by Jan. 1, 2019 if construction is approved prior to Jan. 1, 2016. Can ask for an extension of up to three additional years.
  • Old Standard: Rooms with cooking and cooking areas required 70 square feet for first occupant and 50 square feet for each additional occupant. No change for square footage in sleeping areas.


  • Must provide heating equipment that can maintain a temperature of 70 deg. F during cold weather.
  • Old Standard: Provide adequate heating equipment if habitable rooms are used during cold weather.


  • Added: A carbon monoxide detector is required in addition to smoke detectors in all dwelling units with a sleeping area or in the vicinity of sleeping areas.
  • Added: Fire extinguishers are required in dwelling units that have sleeping areas but that do not have a second emergency exit.
  • Old Standard: This is a new section. Old standard required only smoke detectors.


  • Added: Bathrooms must include partitions between toilets. Must be walls, no curtains.
  • Must be done by Jan. 1, 2017 if construction is approved by Jan. 1, 2016
  • Minimum number of toilets required is 2.
  • Coed housing- 1 for men, 1 for women
  • Female housing- 2 for women
  • Male housing- 2 for men
  • Added: Must be flush toilets unless the department of health approves chemical toilets.
  • Old Standard: Only minimum of two toilets, not clarified for men, women, and shared facilities. No requirement for flush toilets.


  • Added: Showers must include partitions that are nonabsorbent walls.
  • Must be done by Jan. 1, 2017 if construction approved by Jan. 1, 2016
  • Old Standard: Partitions were optional.

Cooking/Eating Areas

  • Added: All food-handling and cooking facilities need to be covered as well as enclosed or screened.
  • Added: All eating facilities must be enclosed or screened with adequate table and seating.
  • Exception: BBQ and picnic facilities are not required to be covered/enclosed as long as there are other cooking facilities available in quantities that meet regulatory requirements that are covered/enclosed.
  • In common cooking facilities, 4 cooking surfaces are required for every 10 persons. Revised to allow stovetop burners, stove ovens, microwave ovens, hotplates, and convection ovens to meet the ratio of 4 cooking surfaces to 10 persons.
  • Old Standard: Food facilities only had to be enclosed or screened, not covered. 4 cooking surfaces were required for every 2 families or 1 for every 4 people.

Door Locks

  • Added: Locks required for bedroom, bathroom, toilet/shower stall doors, and exterior doors
  • All locks must not prevent egress, and must be easily opened from the inside without the use of a key or special knowledge.
  • Old Standard: This is a new addition, no old standard.

Personal Storage

  • It is required to provide personal storage space located in sleeping rooms.
  • Added: A portion or all must be enclosed, anchored, and lockable.
  • Construction of personal storage done by Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Old Standard: Only storage units were required without lockable portion.

Emergency Services

  • Added: Growers must provide workers with a TWH management plan, which includes, a plan for contacting a first-aid trained person or emergency services within a reasonable amount of time, emergency information, contact information, and residency rules and requirements.
  • Old Standard: This is a new section, no old standard.

Hand Wash Temperature

  • Added: Provide an adequate supply of hot (must be automatically controlled supply of 100-120 deg. F) and cold running water under pressure is bathing, food-handling, and laundry facilities.
  • Old Standard: This is a new addition, no old standard.


  • All TWH facilities, including common facilities and dwelling units, need to be protected against the elements
  • Old Standard: Clarification from old standard

Lead-based Paint

  • Added: Comply with all applicable state and federal laws and rules for lead-based paint.
  • Old Standard: This is a new addition, no old standard.

Beds, Cots, and Mattresses

  • Provide beds, cots, or bunks furnished with clean mattresses in good condition.
  • Added: Requirements regarding cots such as ensuring cots are sturdy and stable without insects, mold, rips, or stains.
  • Added: Locate all beds at least 36 inches from cooking surfaces.
  • Old Standard: Cots were only allowed in tents.