Maintain safety in the workplace from head to toe. In this article, we take a look at OSHA requirements for eyewash safety stations.
Myth #1: “An eyewash flushing bottle counts as an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant eyewash.”
Incorrect. According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment (ANSI Z358.1-2009), 16- and 32-oz. bottles are considered personal eyewashes. Personal eyewash units provide immediate flushing and can be used as the employee is making his/her way to an approved emergency flushing station. An approved eyewash station must be able to flush both eyes simultaneously, for 15 continuous minutes, with a minimum flow rate of 0.4 gallons per minute.
Myth #2: “There are no specific guidelines for water temperature for an emergency eyewash or shower.”
Incorrect. Guidelines in ANSI Z358.1-2009 specify the water temperature for emergency flushing equipment to be in the range of 60–100°F. Water temperatures below 60° can cause hypothermia and may prematurely stop the emergency first aid treatment. Temperatures above 100° can accelerate a chemical reaction with skin and eyes. The use of thermostatic mixing valves blend hot and cold water for a comfortable water temperature, which help ensure workers flush for the required 15 minutes.
Myth #3: “All gravity-fed eyewashes that meet the minimum 0.4 gpm flow rate are ANSI compliant.”
Incorrect. Gravity-fed eyewashes that meet the minimum 0.4 gpm flow rate must also meet the requirement of 15 continuous minutes of uninterrupted flow. According to ANSI, the gravity-fed eyewashes that do not meet the minimum requirements are considered personal eyewashes only.
Myth #4: “Personal eyewash bottles have an indefinite shelf life as long as the seal remains unbroken.”
Incorrect. Personal eyewash bottles are factory sealed. The shelf life for most personal eyewash bottles can be between two and three years from the date of manufacture. The expiration date will normally be printed on the bottle for easy identification.
Myth #5: “Emergency eyewash and emergency eye/face wash are synonymous terms.”
Incorrect. Emergency eyewash and emergency eye/face wash have two different definitions under the ANSI Z358.1-2009 standard based on the rate of flow. The minimum flow requirement for eyewash is 0.4 gpm compared to the minimum flow rate of 3.0 gpm for an eye/face wash. Applications where emergency eyewash is suggested would be in a work environment where particulate hazards exist. In a work environment where chemical hazards are a concern, an emergency eye/face wash is suggested because chemicals can be hazardous to both skin and eyes.