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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Emergency Eyewash and Shower Regulations

Do you have the proper eyewash stations and emergency showers in your shop?  The first 10 to 15 seconds after exposure to a hazardous substance, especially corrosive substances, are critical.  Delaying treatment, even for a few seconds, may cause serious injury.

According to OSHA's regulation 1910.151(c) states, "Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use."

What exactly does "suitable facilities" mean? Some of the important details are listed below. However, it is not every standard, so consult with ANSI to get the full standard of ANSI Z358.1 to make sure you are compliant.

  • Emergency eyewash stations or showers must take no more than 10 seconds to reach from where an accident may take place, which means they should be within 55 feet of the work area. The path to the fixture must be unobstructed.
  • The eyewash station and shower must be able to be operated at the same time if necessary.
  • Eyewash stations must be able to flush both eyes at the same time.
  • Self contained eyewash equipment minimum flush rate is .4 gpm for 15 minutes. Eye/face wash equipment minimum flush rate is 3 gpm at 30 psi for 15 minutes. Plumbed and self contained emergency showers have a minimum flush rate of 20 gpm at 30 psi for 15 minutes.
  • All emergency wash stations are easily activated in one second or less and will stay on until manually shut off. This will allow the user to use his hands to hold his eyelids open.
  • Plumbed valves must be locked-out to prevent unauthorized shut off.
  • Tepid (between 60°F and 100°F) flushing fluid must be supplied in all types of emergency applications.
  • If there is a shut-off valve installed in the water supply line, measures must be taken to make sure there are no unauthorized or accidental shut-offs.
  • All employees must be trained in the use of the wash stations and know where they are located.
  • There must be a highly visible sign to show the wash station.
  • Emergency eyewash stations and showers must be inspected annually to make sure they are working properly.
Again, these are not all of the standards from ANSI Z358.1. These are only a few important highlights to get you started on the right path to having a safer workplace. Read the full standard to make sure your shop is totally compliant.  Even with the best safety precautions, accidental chemical exposures can occur.  Therefore, it is essential to look beyond the use of goggles, face shields, and safety procedures.  Emergency showers and eyewash stations are a necessary backup to minimize the effects of accidental chemical exposure.  

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