Eyewash Stations for Workplace Safety

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

In industy, it is important to be sure that your worker's eyes are protected from workplace injuries.  According to NIOHS ...

In industy, it is important to be sure that your worker's eyes are protected from workplace injuries.  According to NIOHS (The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) over 2000 people per day are treated in US Hospital emergency rooms for eye injuries that are related to the workplace.  Contact with chemicals account for one fifth of these injuries.  Workers in many industrial occupations are in danger of various types of chemical splashes and other eye injuries on a daily basis.

If a chemical splash or dust particle gets into a worker's eye, it is necessary to have an Emergency Eyewash Station available to rinse out the eye and protect the worker from further eye injury.  The first few seconds are critical in an emergency involving the eyes.  The response must be quick and efficient in order to prevent serious long term damage to the eyes.

Analyze and inspect your workplace for hazards to the eyes.

Eye Injuries are common occurances in an industrial workplace. Planning for emergencies before they happen can be the difference between a minor incident and a debilitating disabiltiy.
OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.151(c) which states that whenever employees are exposed to corrosive materials, emergency eyewash and showers must be provided for them.   Inspect the workplace in order to uncover the risk areas and potential for eye injuries caused by chemical splashes or foreign particles in the eye.

Eyewash Stations need to be ANSI compliant for worker protection

OSHA sets the requirement for the use of Emergency Eyewash stations and if refers to the ANSI Standard to set detailed instructions on the operation and installation of emergency eyewash stations.
ANSI compliant.  The ANSI standard that pertains to eyewash stations is Z358.1-2009.  This standard establishes the use and performance requirements for eyewash stations and shower equipment for the treatment of exposure to a
potentially dangerous chemical substance in the eye or on the skin.  It is the source of guidance for compliance with OSHA regulation 1910.151(c). The ANSI Standard requires that an eyewash station delivers a full fifteen minutes of flushing time.

Place Eyewash Stations strategically thoughtout the workplace

ANSI mandates the number of seconds that it should take to reach the eyewash station in an emergency along with it's positioning in the plant or job-site. ANSI has also determined the best water temperature for the flushing fluid.
the ANSI standard and installing
emergency eyewash stations in your plant or jobsite within ten seconds walking distance from the hazard area. The eyewash station must be on the same level as the hazard.  Periodically inspect the area to be sure that it is free and clear of any objects that could block the path for the injured employee.  Be sure that the temperature of the water supply in your eyewash stations is lukewarm or tepid. According to ANSI Z358.1 2009 the flushing fluid must be between 60 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit  If the flushing fluid is too hot or too cold this could cause further injury to the eye. It also could cause the injured worker not to flush for the required time. The eyewash station should be inspected and maintained according to the manufactures instructions to be sure that it is in proper working order in case of an emergency..

Choose the correct type of Eyewash Station for your workers

Eyewash Stations come in different shapes and sizes. Each type of eyewash station has it's own unique advantages. In purchasing an eyewash station, an employer has to consider the maintenance required for each particular style. It is imperative to follow maintenance schedules with eyewash stations.

Inform Workers on the use of eyewash stations and their locations within the work area

Eyewash Stations must be clearly labeled so that employees know exactly where to go and what to do when they get there in case an emergency arises.
: Including training sessions for employees in the proper use of an eyewash station.  Once an accident happens, it is too late to learn the proper use of safety equipment.  Be sure that eyewash stations are clearly marked and visible to employees.  There should be safety signs clearly labeling the eyewash stations in the work area.  Make sure that workers know that if they have been splashed by a chemical in the eye that they do NOT squeeze their eyes shut. They need to flush their eyes for a full fifteen minutes in order to minimize damage.

Know the Chemicals that you are dealing with in an emergency situation

All chemicals can cause diffferent reactions. They are made of different substances and have to be treated accordingly.
Having  MSDS sheets or theNIOHS Chemical Pocket Guidesavailable for all chemicals that your workers are being exposed to.  If a chemical splashes in the eye of an employee, it is important to know beforehand the correct emergency response that should be followed.  In rare situations, there are certain chemicals that will become more caustic to the eye if water or a flushing fluid is used.  Chemicals can be dangerous substances if you do not know what you are dealing with prior to an emergency.  The safest workplace is run by knowledgeable and informed employers about the hazards to their employees on the job.  It is important to be aware of Emergency Eyewash Requirements

Safety Glasses and Goggles are the first line of defense to prevent eye injuries

Prevention of an injury is what should be strived for. Safety glasses and goggles have prevented many workers from the trauma of an eye injury.
Adhere to the first line of defense in eye protection and safety by having workers wear the proper safety glasses, goggles and face shields in areas in the workplace that pose a risk to the eyes.  Follow the necessary  guidelines on eye protection in the workplace to keep workers eyes free from damage.

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