Emergency Showers and Eyewashes

Emergency Showers and Eyewashes

An emergency eyewash, or eyewash and shower should be provided whenever employees are exposed to corrosive materials.  Make sure your facility eyewash station(s) and shower(s) are kept in optimal condition with these handy tips.

Identify Hazards

The first step to take when deciding whether an eyewash or eyewash and shower is needed is to determine if a material is hazardous to the eyes or skin.  Usually, the level of “pH” will be used to determine if a material is hazardous. However, other information such as a material safety data sheet (MSDS) and various references may be used to determine whether a material is hazardous.

Liquids present the most common hazards, but solids, gases, vapors and mists may also be hazardous. A material may be considered hazardous if it can damage the skin, eyes, or is readily absorbed through the skin.

Determine Exposure

Determine whether the hazardous material can contact the eyes or skin. To determine exposure, look at the potential for the material to be splashed or get into the eyes or on the skin. If there is skin exposure, then it should be determined how much could splash on the skin. If the material is hazardous and capable of coming in contact with the eyes, quantity is not a consideration.

Eyewash, Shower Requirements

Eyewashes and showers should be in compliance with ANSI Z358.1-1998 or equivalent standard.

The construction, installation and location of the eyewash or eyewash and shower should meet the above requirements as well.  The following should also be considered:

  1. Eyewashes and showers should be located as close as possible to the hazard and on the same level. The more hazardous the material, the closer in time and distance the unit should be.
  2. Flushing fluid temperature for eyewashes and showers should be tepid or lukewarm.
  3. Plumbed eyewashes and showers must be flushed weekly to ensure proper operation. Eyewash flushing for at least three minutes has been suggested to reduce bacterial and amoebic contamination.

There should be regular maintenance of self-contained eyewash units to ensure the units are full and operational, the flushing solution is changed according to manufacturer’s instructions and access to the units is not blocked. Only commercially available solutions intended for eye flushing should be used.