Eyewash Safety Station and Emergency Shower Solutions
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the availability of eyewash stations and emergency showers within the work area for immediate emergency use in all facilities “where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials,” states regulation 29 CFR 1910.151(c).
At the asphalt plant, eyewash stations and emergency showers are commonly located near the lab, tank farm and control house.
However, OSHA’s regulations don’t specify requirements for product selection, installation, operation or maintenance, instead referring employers to ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, a national consensus standard established in 1981 and last revised in 2014.
ANSI Standard Specifics
The standard calls for eyewash stations and emergency showers to be located within 10 seconds of any hazards, which translates to approximately 55 feet; on the same level as the hazard; clearly visible and well-lit; with an obstruction-free path of travel; and provisions should be made to prevent unauthorized shut off.
Both stations and showers should deliver tepid flushing water, which is considered between 60 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, both stations and showers should be activated once a week to verify operation. Self-contained eyewash units and showers should also be checked weekly to ensure sufficient flushing fluid. Stations and showers should also be inspected annually to ensure they meet all ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 performance requirements.
The standard also instructs companies to ensure all employees are aware of the location of eyewash stations and showers, and have been trained on their proper use.
Eyewash Station Specifics
Eyewash stations may include plumbed stations, where an eyewash unit is permanently connected to a water source, or self-contained stations, where the device contains its own flushing fluid. There are also personal eyewash stations, which include bottles that can be mounted to walls or carried in a toolbox, however, these are not a substitute for required eyewash stations.
Eyewash station control valves should be simple to operate, go from off to on in one second or less, and the spray head should be protected from possible contaminants (for example, the cover is removed when the water flows out).
The water flow should be between 33 and 53 inches from the surface upon which the user stands and 6 inches away from any obstructions. The unit should be able to wash out both eyes simultaneously.
The water flow velocity of eyewash stations shouldn’t injure the user, but is high enough that the user can hold their eyes open while rinsing.
Emergency Shower Specifics
There are two types of emergency showers. Plumbed showers are permanently connected to an appropriate water source, while self-contained showers are stand-alone devices that contain their own flushing fluid.
Regardless of the type of shower, emergency showers should have a hands-free valve that activates within one second that is easily located and no more than 69 inches above the surface on which the user stands. The shower head should be between 82 and 96 inches above the standing surface.
At 60 inches above the standing surface, the water pattern should have a minimum diameter of 20 inches. The center of the water pattern should be at least 16 inches from any obstructions, and if the shower is enclosed, the enclosure must be at least 34 inches in diameter.
Both types of showers should be able to deliver 20 gallons of water per minute for 15 minutes in the required pattern, with plumbed showers at a pressure of 30 pounds per square inch.