One of the most common injuries plaguing nearly any industrial business is the eye injury. The human eye is susceptible to damage from a variety of different sources, however, most eye injuries stem from exposure to chemicals, paints, solvents, allergens, sawdust, laboratory materials, etc. However, it is important to remember that nearly ninety percent of all eye injuries are preventable when proper procedures are followed and adequate eye protection is used. The right type of goggles, depending upon the job, can protect the eyes from coming into contact with nearly any eye irritating contaminant. Nonetheless, eye injuries still seem to occur and businesses need to be ready and prepared just in case an eye injury does happen. One of the best ways to provide immediate support to an injured eye is to utilize the help of an eyewash station.
Guidelines for Eyewash Stations
When it comes to the safety standards related to primary eyewash stations, OSHA sets the overall requirements. However, it is ANSI (American National Standards Institute) that is the entity who provides the necessary guidelines that employers must follow regarding the design, type, performance, location, and details specific to any eyewash station. Even though the ANSI z358.1-2009 covers the guidelines for all types of eyewash equipment such as emergency showers, eyewash stations, face washes, and combination units, we are going to focus on guidelines related to eyewash stations.
Tips for Compliance with ANSI’s Eyewash Standard
- Every Second Counts! – When an eye injury occurs every second really does count. An eye injury can go from bad to catastrophic in mere seconds if the eye is not properly flushed. ANSI mandates that all eyewash be located just a short 10 second walk from any eye hazard. The path to the eyewash station must well lit and remain clear and free of debris. The eyewash station must also be properly identified with an eyewash station sign.
- Yes, the Water Does Matter – there are basically two types of eyewash stations: plumbed or self-contained units. The plumbed units have been used for hundreds of years and deliver tap water to the eyes, while the self-contained (portable) units usually feature water with a blend of saline solution as well. Both of these systems are acceptable to comply with ANSI, however, there are certain regulations that must be followed. For instance, with plumbed units the eyewash unit must be activated weekly to rid the water of harmful particle build-up that may damage an injured eye even further. On the other hand, self-contained units require a little less maintenance and only require cleaning/changing water every three to six months.
- Employees Do Need to be Trained – Even though an eyewash station may be pretty self-explanatory to use, employees still need to be trained on how and when to use one. It would be awful for an employee to experience and eye injury and then not know how to operate the eyewash station and have to fumble around with limited vision to try to turn it on.
Injuries to the eye are painful and can be severely debilitating. If an eye injury does occur, it is important to utilize the assistance of an eyewash station as soon as possible. Eye injuries cost businesses millions of dollars each year and often cause permanent and irreversible damage to the eyes of the injured. In order to keep employees adequately protected, make sure your eyewash stations are in compliance.
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