The potential for bodily and ocular harm from caustic acid and other hazardous substances underscores the crucial need for immediate access to safety equipment. The severity of accidents in workplaces with such substances can be mitigated by immediate rinsing after exposure, with delays potentially leading to profound damage. Hazards that can inflict damage to eyes and skin include chemical substances, acidic or alkaline fluids, mechanical damage, and hot substances or fluids.
The critical question to address is how to identify the environments where emergency safety showers and eyewashes should be installed, and the optimal locations for these facilities. According to EU standards, safety showers should be within close range of individuals working in potentially hazardous areas. The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) stipulates that such equipment should be within a maximum of 10 seconds reach. The European Committee for Standardization and ANSI provide valuable recommendations that offer insight into the responsibilities and requirements relevant to first aid and safety equipment in the work environment.
The development and implementation of international directives and standards are driven by evolving knowledge about risks, changes in work life, and updates to existing directives. The European Standard for Emergency Safety Showers (EN 15154-1, 2, 3 & 4) and the American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment (ANSI/ISEA Norm Z358.1) are pivotal in shaping our understanding of these measures. The ANSI/ISEA Norm Z358.1, in particular, sets minimum performance and use requirements for eyewash and shower equipment for the emergency treatment of individuals exposed to hazardous materials.
An analysis of the laws and regulations for emergency safety showers and eyewashes reveals specific requirements for body shower capacity and eyewash capacity. For example, the ANSI/ISEA Norm Z358.1 stipulates that emergency showers should deliver a minimum of 75.7 liters of flushing fluid per minute for at least 15 minutes. Similarly, according to EN 15154, the water in the body shower should maintain a constant flow rate in line with national regulations or, in their absence, at least 60 l/min, for a minimum of 15 minutes.
For eye and face washes, the ANSI/ISEA Norm Z358.1 stipulates a minimum delivery of flushing fluid to the eyes of 1.5 liters per minute for 15 minutes, while EN 15154 mandates that the jet of water in spray heads should spray at a minimum height of 100 mm and a maximum height of 300 mm.
The water distribution and flow for both body showers and eye & face washes are also subject to specific requirements under both ANSI/ISEA Norm Z358.1 and EN 15154, further emphasizing the importance of these safety measures.
The paramount importance of regular testing of safety showers and eyewashes cannot be overstated, ensuring their proper function when needed. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the standards and directives governing the implementation and maintenance of safety measures in hazardous work environments, highlighting the urgent need for effective planning and standardized practices.