Pop-up toilets: Risk of crushing

Health and Safety Executive - Safety notice

Department name: Field Operations Division – Public services, local authorities
Bulletin number: FOD01-2023
Issue date: 06/23
Target audience: Any designers, manufacturers, suppliers and owners who are responsible for providing information on cleaning and maintaining pop-up toilets. Anyone inspecting, cleaning or maintaining pop-up toilets


Someone was killed when working underneath a raised telescopic pop-up toilet. He was in the void below when the pop-up toilet lowered, crushing him.

Outline of the problem

There is a risk of people being crushed when they are underneath a raised, unpropped pop-up toilet.
There’s potential danger from:

  • the lowering of a raised pop-up toilet during cleaning, maintenance or inspection activity
  • intentional or unintentional access to the chamber underneath a raised, unpropped pop-up toilet

Action required

Designers, manufacturers, suppliers, owners, and anyone providing information for, or carrying out, cleaning, maintenance or inspection of pop-up toilets must manage risk during work.

Manage risk

Duty holders should assess each pop-up toilet to identify risks associated with pop-up toilet chamber access, cleaning and maintenance activities. 

You must reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Using your risk assessment for work on a pop-up toilet you should think about the following in order of priority:

  • elimination, can you avoid or remove the hazard?
  • substitution, can you change a tool or process to remove the hazard or make it safer?
  • engineering controls, can you use something to physically isolate the hazard from workers?
  • administrative controls – can you change the way people work through policy, procedure or warnings?
  • PPE, what personal protective equipment could help keep people safer?

Prevent the mechanism lowering

Using suitably rated engineering controls should prevent a raised pop-up toilet from lowering when someone is accessing the chamber below.

Controls could include mechanical safeguarding devices or measures such as a pit prop, moveable stop or stand which can be fitted and effectively locked in position before anyone accesses the chamber under a raised toilet.

When choosing engineering controls you should think about chamber access and the associated clearances available to an operative. You should limit the need for the operative to reach or place themselves under the raised toilet.

Make sure that the controls safeguard against the unintentional lowering of a raised pop-up toilet during toilet chamber access, cleaning and maintenance activities.

Ensure that any engineering control measures you put in place are maintained in good working order. 

Provide information

Duty holders should make sure that anyone cleaning, maintaining or inspecting pop-up toilets, or anyone fitting or maintaining engineering control measures have adequate health and safety information and, where appropriate, written instructions on fitting and using control measures. 


Relevant legal documents