Future development of eye wash and eye washing – Looking Ahead with Proper Eye Irrigation
A prime example of these advancements is the eyewash. During the first half of the 20th century, the commercial eyewash was invented. Urban legend has it that an industrial plant manager devised the first “steady stream” eyewash by adapting two drinking fountain bubbler heads and valves mounted to opposing sides of a sink. When activated, the streams formed a double arch that.
aimed water from the outer perimeter of the sink to its center. An injured victim could place their face into the double streams and irrigate both eyes simultaneously. It was a great concept and it took the safety industry to a new level over the ensuing half century. There was, however, one limitation to this early prototype. Irrigating with streams that contact the eye at its outer canthus, or corner, and flow inward toward the nose is diametrically opposed to the way we healthcare professionals irrigate eyes!
Workplace safety is a growing concern to employers. Stringent regulation, increased employee health education and awareness have led to advancements in processes, safety procedures and first-aid protocols to better treat the injured. This movement has had a profound impact on the emergency equipment industry.
THE LACRIMAL SYSTEM
To comprehend the logic behind the medical community’s approach to eye contamination situations requires a passing understanding of the eye’s lacrimal system. The human eye is equipped with an automatic lubricating and cleansing mechanism called the lacrimal system. It consists of the lacrimal gland, which produces tears, the ducts that channel tears from the lacrimal gland to the ocular surface and the lacrimal puncta, which are drains that channel excess fluids out of the ocular surface. Importantly, the lacrimal puncta drain excess fluids directly into the nasal cavity. This process is the reason your nose runs when you cry.
The eyelid also plays a key「ole. As we blink, the eyelid wipes the cornea and pushes contaminants and excess fluids toward the lacrimal puncta or the ocular surface’s drains. If a hazardous material is introduced into the eye, nature’s own cleansing mechanism can serve to force the contaminant into the nasal cavity, where it can be passed into the lungs or swallowed. Clearly, this is not ideal for any victim.
What kind of eyewash station do you need on your jobsite?
Your needs may vary, depending on your location. Does your job site have access to running water? Is it a temporary construction site? Or are you concerned about installing permanent eyewash stations in a facility like a warehouse or plant? A plumbed unit is required when the station must remain in a fixed unit that has access to a continuous source of potable water. Portable eyewash stations are a great alternative to plumbed eyewash stations when there is no access to water and if it needs to be moved at a moment’s notice. When you use a portable eyewash it is also important to use a water additive to ensure flushing liquid remains clean and ready to be used.
MEDICALLY ACCEPTED EYE IRRIGATION
Accordingly, the medical profession teaches and practices eye irrigation by introducing the flushing fluid at the inner corner of the eye – adjacent to the nose – and letting it run across the eye to the outer edge. In effect, we irrigate by moving the fluid away from the lacrimal puncta. This is opposite the flow direction of traditional plumbed-in eyewash products. Pushing contaminants toward the nose not only risks introducing them into the nasal cavity, but can also introduce the same contaminant into the other eye.
The best method of irrigating eyes in a commercial or industrial setting is to use plumbed-in products that mirror approved medical protocols. Inverted eyewash streams versus the traditional eyewash contact the eyes at the inner canthus, adjacent to the bridge of the nose. Contaminants are thus swept to the outer edge of the eye and then into the eyewash bowl.
Do You Need an Eyewash Station?
According to the recently updated Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), you must provide a safety data sheet and emergency station if workers may come in contact with hazards that are labeled as: