Eye Wash Station Requirements
There are two types of eye wash stations:
Plumbed eye wash station: An eye wash unit permanently connected to a continual source of potable water
Gravity-fed (self-contained) eye wash station: A stand-alone eye wash device that contains its own flushing fluid that must be refilled or replaced after use
Key eye wash station features and specifications include:
Installed so the fluid flow pattern is no less than 33 inches but no greater than 53 inches from the work surface
Positioned 6 inches from wall or nearest obstruction
Deliver 0.4 GPM tepid flushing fluid for 15 minutes at 30 psi for plumbed units
Deliver 0.4 GPM tepid flushing fluid for 15 minutes for gravity-fed units
Heads and flushing fluid units must be protected from airborne contaminants and the removal of any protective device(s) must not require a separate motion by the user
Activate in one second or less
Valve remains on until the user shuts it off
Located in an area that requires no more than 10 seconds to reach (consult a medical professional to determine the appropriate distance for harsh acids and caustics; high hazard=closer distance)
Located in a well-lit area and identified with a sign
Located on the same level as the hazard
Path of travel must be free of obstructions
If shut-off valves are installed in the supply line for maintenance purposes, provisions must be made to prevent unauthorized shut off
Maintenance and Training
Plumbed eye wash stations must be activated weekly to verify proper operation
Gravity-fed units must be inspected weekly and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions
All employees who might be exposed to a chemical splash must be trained in the use of the equipment
All eye/face wash stations must be inspected annually to make sure they meet ANSI Z358.1 requirements
Why are emergency showers or eyewash stations important?
The first 10 to 15 seconds after exposure to a hazardous substance, especially a corrosive substance, are critical. Delaying treatment, even for a few seconds, may cause serious injury.
Emergency showers and eyewash stations provide on-the-spot decontamination. They allow workers to flush away hazardous substances that can cause injury.
Accidental chemical exposures can still occur even with good engineering controls and safety precautions. As a result, it is essential to look beyond the use of goggles, face shields, and procedures for using personal protective equipment. Emergency showers and eyewash stations are a necessary backup to minimize the effects of accident exposure to chemicals.
Emergency showers can also be used effectively in extinguishing clothing fires or for flushing contaminants off clothing.
The emergency shower should deliver a pattern of water with a diameter of at least 50.8 cm (20 inches) at 152.4 cm (60 inches). This diameter ensures that the water will come into contact with the entire body – not just the top of the person’s head. ANSI also recommends the shower head be between 208.3 and 243.8 cm (82-96 inches) from the floor. The minimum volume of spray should be 75.7 litres/minute (20 gallons/minute) for a minimum time of 15 minutes.
The shower should also be designed so that it can be activated in less than 1 second, and it remains operational without the operator’s hand on the valve (or lever, handle, etc.). This valve should not be more than 173.3 cm (69 inches) in height. If enclosures are used, ensure that there is an unobstructed area of 86.4 cm (34 inches) in diameter.