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Emergency Eye Wash Regulations

Are you required to provide eyewash or shower facilities to protect your employees? If yes, how many stations are required and what some of the technical specifications and maintenance requirements when a eyewash or shower is installed. First lets look at the OSHA regulations.

OSHA regulations at 29 CFR 1910.151 (c) specify the use of eyewash and/or shower facilities:

"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."

OSHA is very general when it speaks about eyewash / shower stations. Instead of specifying travel distances, technical specifications and inspection frequencies, OSHA incorporates by reference the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI developed standard Z358.1-1990 and was revised in 2004. This "Emergency Eye Wash and Shower Equipment" standard helps the user in selecting and installing emergency equipment that meet OSHA requirements.

When discussing Eye Wash and Shower Equipment the following categories are common:

         Plumbed Shower - A shower permanently connected to a source of potable water.

         Self Contained Shower – A shower that contains it own its own flushing fluid and must be refilled or replaced after use.

         Plumbed Eye Wash - An eye wash unit permanently connected to a source of potable water.

         Gravity-Feed Eye Wash - An eye wash device that contains its own flushing fluid and must be refilled or replaced after use.

         Eye & Face Wash: A device used to irrigate and flush both the face and the eyes.

         Hand-Held Drench Hose: A flexible hose connected to a water supply and used to irrigate and flush eyes, face and body areas.

         Personal Eye Wash - A supplementary eye wash that supports plumbed units, gravity-feed units, or both by delivering immediate flushing fluid. Typically found in a small bottle (pint or two)

The following specifications are taken from the ANSI Z358.1-2004 standard.

Plumbed Shower

1. Heads

A. Positioned 82"--96" from floor.
B. Spray pattern will have a minimum diameter of 20" at 60" above the floor.
C. Flow Rate=20 gallons per minute (GPM) at 30 pounds per square inch (PSI).
D. The center of the spray pattern shall be located at least 16 inches from any obstruction.

 

2. Valves

A. Activate in 1 second or less.
B. Stay-open valve (no use of hands).
C. Valve remains on until the user shuts it off.

 

3. Installation

A. Shower shall be located in an area that requires no more than 10 seconds to reach.
*Consult a medical professional to determine the appropriate distance for harsh acids and caustics (high hazard=closer distance).
B. Shower location shall be in a well-lit area and identified with a sign.
C. Shower shall be located on the same level as the hazard.

 

4. Maintenance and Training

A. Plumbed showers will be activated weekly to verify correct operation.
B. All employees who might be exposed to a chemical splash shall be trained in the use of the equipment.
C. All showers shall be inspected annually to make sure they meet with ANSI Z358.1 requirements.

 

Plumbed and Gravity-Feed Eye Wash

1. Heads

A. Positioned 33"-45" from floor.
B. Positioned 6" from wall or nearest obstruction.
C. 0.4 gallons per minute (GPM) for 15 minutes for plumbed units shall provide flushing fluid at 30 PSI.
D. 0.4 gallons per minute (GPM) for 15 minutes for gravity-feed units.

 

2. Valves

A. Activate in 1 second or less.
B. Stay-open valve (leaving hands free).

 

3. Installation

A. Eyewash equipment shall be located in an area that requires no more than 10 seconds to reach.
*Consult a medical professional to determine the appropriate distance for harsh acids and caustics (high hazard=closer distance).
B. The location of the eye wash unit shall be in a well-lit area and identified with a sign.
C. Eyewash equipment shall be on the same level as the hazard.

 

4. Maintenance and Training

A. Plumbed eye wash units shall be activated weekly to verify proper operation.
B. Gravity-feed units shall be maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.
C. All employees who might be exposed to a chemical splash shall be trained in the use of the equipment.
D. All eyewash equipment shall be inspected annually to make sure they meet ANSI Z358.1 requirements.

 

Eye & Face Wash:

1. Heads

A. Positioned 33"--45" from floor.
B. 6" from wall or nearest obstruction.
C. Large heads to cover both eyes and face or regular size eye wash heads plus a face spray ring.
D. 3 gallons per minute (GPM) for 15 minutes.

 

2. Valve

A. Same as eye wash.

 

3. Installation

A. Same as eye wash.

 

4. Maintenance and Training

A. Same as eye wash

 

Hand-Held Drench Hose:

1. Heads

A. 3 gallons per minute (GPM).

 

2. Valve

A. Activate in 1 second or less.

 

3. Installation

A. Assemble per the manufacturer's instructions.
B. The location of the drench hose shall be in a well-lit area and identified with a sign.

 

4. Maintenance and Training

A. Activate weekly to verify proper operation.
B. All employees who might be exposed to a chemical splash shall be trained in the use of the equipment.
C. All drench hose equipment shall be inspected annually to make sure they meet ANSI Z358.1 requirements.
Note: Hand-held drench hoses support shower and eyewash units but shall not replace them.

 

Personal Eye Wash:

Personal eye wash units can provide immediate flushing when they are located near the workstations. Personal eye wash equipment does not meet the requirements of plumbed or gravity-feed eye wash equipment. Personal eye wash units can support plumbed or gravity-feed eye wash units, but cannot be a substitute.

 

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