Safety Shower Eye Wash Requirements

Written by janelle bartels
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Safety Shower Eye Wash Requirements
Proper eye washing stations can greatly reduce the risk of serious injury. (Dangerous safety placard image by k9dg from Fotolia.com)

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has certain requirements and regulations applying to emergency shower and eye wash stations. These stations promote eye safety under a variety of work conditions. Certain industries where employees are exposed to hazardous materials require such stations and have specific instructions for their installation. Familiarisation with these important requirements helps both employees and employers adhere to them.

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General Government Regulations

According to OSHA, facilities for drenching or flushing the eyes and body must be provided where the eyes are exposed to injurious corrosive materials. OSHA also requires certain industries to include emergency safety shower eyewash stations in every facility. Such industries include paper manufacturing, telecommunications, activities using an open surface tank, storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia, powered industrial trucks, pulp and hazardous materials. However, these regulations do not specify installation set-up requirements or minimum operating requirements. As such, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has developed standards for areas where employees are exposed to hazardous materials such as caustics.

Emergency Shower Requirements

For plumbed showers, where a shower connects to a source of potable water, the shower head must be positioned between 82 inches and 96 inches from the floor. The spray pattern must have a diameter of at least 20 inches at a height of 60 inches above the floor. In addition, the flow rate must equal 20 gallons per minute at 13.6kg. per square inch. The centre of the spray pattern must occur at a minimum of 16 inches from any obstruction. For these showers, the valves must activate in one second or less and stay open without the use of hands and remain on until actively shut off. According to ANSI regulations, these showers cannot take more than 10 seconds to reach, and they must be placed in well-lit areas located at the same level as the hazard in question. All employees should have training in safety eyewash equipment to ensure proper use. In addition, these plumbed emergency showers must be activated weekly.

Eye Wash Station Requirements

For eye wash stations that don’t include showers but instead have permanent units connected to water or contain their own flushing fluid, certain regulations also exist. These eye wash stations should provide a curtain of water to cover the entire facial area. The heads should be positioned between 33 inches and 45 inches from the floor, and 6 inches from a wall or nearest obstruction. The flow should not be less than 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes. These units also must activate in one second or less with a stay-open valve. They follow the same requirements for installation, maintenance and training. If feasible, water supplied to such showers should have temperatures between 15.6 degrees C and 35 degrees Celsius.

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