Emergency eyewash stations are a crucial safety feature in hazardous environments where workers may come into contact with harmful chemicals, toxins, or debris. Here are some of the advantages of having emergency eyewash stations in these environments:
- Rapid Response: In an emergency situation, time is critical. Emergency eyewash stations provide workers with immediate access to flushing water, allowing them to quickly and effectively rinse their eyes in the event of an eye injury.
- Prevents further injury: Eyewash stations are designed to remove any harmful substances from the eyes, which reduces the risk of further injury or permanent damage. This is especially important in cases where corrosive substances may have entered the eye.
- Complies with regulations: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide emergency eyewash stations in environments where workers are exposed to hazardous materials. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in costly fines and legal action.
- Improves safety culture: Providing emergency eyewash stations demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety and can improve employee morale and retention. It also helps to create a safety culture within the workplace.
- Easy to use: Emergency eyewash stations are designed to be easy to use, even in high-stress situations. The stations are typically located in easily accessible areas, and the instructions for use are straightforward.
In summary, emergency eyewash stations are an essential safety feature in hazardous environments. They provide workers with rapid access to flushing water, reduce the risk of further injury, comply with regulations, improve workplace safety culture, and are easy to use.
The 10 to 15 seconds following a chemical splashing into the eye are critical to preventing extremely serious, and potentially permanent, eye injuries. Employees must have access to an emergency eye wash station to ensure they can quickly and properly flush away hazardous substances.
Even if the proper safety precautions are being followed an accident can still occur. In addition to implementing hazard controls to limit exposure, such as engineering controls or personal protective equipment, it’s critical workplaces have accessible eyewash stations to provide immediate decontamination for workers in the case of an emergency.
Types of Eyewash Stations
OSHA requires that wherever a worker’s eyes or body could be exposed to corrosive materials that are potentially injurious, equipment or facilities must be established within the work areas and available for immediate emergency use. ANSI defines four types of flushing equipment within their standard ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment:
- Combination eye/face wash
- Drench showers (for entire body)
- Combination shower and eyewash
Although portable eyewash bottles and stations are merely supplemental and should not be used as a replacement for the equipment listed above, these options are particularly helpful for rinsing out a worker’s eyes until the worker is able to reach an eye wash station.
Making Sure Workers can Locate Eye Wash Stations
Both OSHA and ANSI recommend eye wash stations be located as close to the hazard as possible and that an individual should be able to reach the equipment in no more than 10 seconds. The eye wash or shower should not be partitioned off from the hazardous work area, but instead be clearly identified with a highly-visible safety sign that is easy to understand. To ensure the area around an emergency eye wash station is kept clear at all times, use floor marking to remind workers not to block this equipment.