The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) frequently issues citations relating to the lack of emergency eyewash fountains and, less frequently, the lack of a deluge shower. The OSHA standard referenced most often is 29 CFR 1910.151(c), Medical Services and First Aid. The standard states: “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.” There is no exact criteria describing what specific chemical properties or amounts will invoke the standard.
The current American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard, ANSI Z358.1, Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, provides details on eyewash and shower equipment and system specifications. The ANSI standard emphasizes the time it takes a worker to reach the eyewash or shower, rather than the distance traveled. Therefore, the flushing facility should be located such that it is not just close at hand, but also easy to access.
The following provides general recommendations for the location and operation of eyewash fountains.
Locate the eyewash fountain in the immediate area of the hazard, so that it can be accessed within 10 seconds.
Ensure the fountain is easily accessible, conspicuous, and marked by a green and white sign.
Ensure there are no doors, ramps, or steps in the path to the fountain, and that turns are minimized.
Ensure the fountain provides for “no hands required” operation after simple activation.
Install nozzles at 33 – 45 in (83.8 – 114.3 cm) from the floor.
Use caps or similar devices to cover the nozzles. Caps should be displaced by the initial flow of water.
Ensure the fountain has two streams, meeting at nearly a vertex, with a constant flow for 15 minutes that provides a minimum of 0.4 gl (1.5 L) per minute of potable water or commercial flush.
Provide automatic control of the fountain’s water temperature and pressures. Water temperature should be tepid or lukewarm, between 15 and 35OC (60 and 95OF).
Equip plumbed fountains with an audio and visual alarm on a spring-loaded bypass. This alarm should alert others to the emergency and should be designed with an automatic reset function. The bypass allows employees to test the “eye-full tower” units without setting off the alarm.
Conduct weekly checks to flush lines and verify proper operation; plumbed units should be flushed for three minutes.
Use portable units only where fixed installations are not feasible.
Provide squeeze bottles only in conjunction with eyewashes stations.
Train workers on the location and proper use of eyewash fountains.
Train workers to hold their eyelids open and roll their eyeballs to flush the entire eye.
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