Written on Friday, November 13, 2009
There are approximately one million eye injuries in the workplace every year. This may seem like a lot, but it does show the importance of proper eye protection and safety regulations in the workplace. Although people are required to use goggles, face shields, and safety glasses, accidents are still a possibility. When accidents occur, it is imperative that an eyewash station is available to all employees. They should be positioned in a manner that eye emergencies can be treated within seconds.
There are several OSHA regulations that require businesses to have eyewash stations when employees could be exposed to corrosive materials. Eyewash stations must be in compliance with ANSI Z358.1-2004. There is a voluntary standard that offers guidance for the proper design, use, performance, installation, and maintenance of eyewash stations.
There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when positioning eyewash stations in the workplace. A business must first select an eyewash station. Before doing so, the work area and injury potential should be assessed. The layout of a building will play a large role in where an eyewash station is placed. All stations are to be placed within 10 seconds walking distance from when an injury occurs. The area should remain free and clear from objects that will block the accessibility of the station if there is an emergency. Water used in an eyewash station should be lukewarm or tepid. There must be at least 15 minutes of water flow.
Now we will talk about the types of eyewash stations. Plumbed eyewash stations draw their water directly from plumbing pipes connected to a main water source. These require ANSI weekly activation in order to maintain proper operation. It also flushes out buildup that often forms when water sits in the pipes. If weekly activation is not performed, mold, bacteria, and sediment can build up in the pipes. You have the option of a tank style eyewash station that is self contained. These stations use tap water mixed with a preservative. A preservative will reduce the build up of bacteria. The preservative will usually expire after 6 months, so this type of system will need maintenance every six months. At this time, the units will be cleaned and refilled. There are self-contained eyewash stations that do not require the use of tap water. There is also no mixing involved in the process. Purified water is used in a clean room environment.
Some eyewash stations use saline solution to mimic tears that are produced in the eye. The solutions for cartridge bases eyewash stations have a shelf life of approximately 24 months. These models can be installed in minutes. A big benefit to these is that the eye station is portable. They can easily be moved if necessary.
It is very important to know all guidelines related to eyewash stations in the workplace. OSHA has very strict guidelines when it comes to eye safety.