OSHA has set of requirements which are directed to the installation, maintenance and use of eyewash station in the workplace. OSHA instructed that eyewash station should be fundamental to all worksites as an emergency care and assistance especially to workers and operators that are chemically exposed during the course of their duties to hazardous chemicals and corrosive materials. Here are specifically the OSHA regulations:

  • What is the OSHA Requirement for Eyewash Station 29 CFR 1910.151(b) or 29 CFR 1926.50(c) – It states that the company must have trained personnel to give first aid when there is no clinic or hospital near the workplace. See more info here.

  • 29 CFR 1910.151(c) and as adopted by 29 CFR 1926.51 – it says that where the eyes or body of workers or operators may be at risk to harmful corrosive materials (such as the forklift battery fluid), the company shall provide amenities (such as eyewash station or shower) in the workplace for immediate use. For more info, read this.

  • 29 CFR 1910.132(a) or 29 CFR 1926.28(a) - PPEs (to protect the eyes, face, and body) shall be provided to the workers to protect them coming in to contact or absorption or inhalation from chemical; PPES shall be kept in good condition. Read it here.

  • 1910.1048(i)(3) - The company shall provide eyewash facilities in the workplace to the workers, if there any chances that their eyes may be splashed with 0.1 percent or greater formaldehyde solution. Read this here.

  • 1910.1052(i)(2) - If there are chances that workers’ eyes may be splashed with chemical/solutions containing 0.1 percent or greater MC, the company shall make available eyewash station in the workplace for immediate use, and that to ensure injured worker shall use the station. See the regulation here.

  • 1910.1003(d)(2)(v) - showers and eyewash stations must be supplied with running potable water and should be situated close to or near or in the same place where a direct exposure to Ethyleneimine or beta-Propiolactone. Read this regulation here.

OSHA is strict in its regulation. Employers could be cited with a violation when found not complying. Eyewash station is easy to construct, employers are encouraged to provide such a facility to their workers. 

Four (4) Aspects that the Installation of Eyewash Station Must in Compliance With

Location:

  • A 10-seconds rule must be applied - the infected worker must be able to hold on and utilize to the device not more than 10 seconds.
  • Clear and recognizable sign with a well-lighted spot - The sign should be easily identified. The symbols and markings do not need workers to have a good command of language to comprehend it.
  • Must be located near the hazard area - As much as possible, the eyewash unit must be positioned at the same floor of the work site and no need for using the stairs.
  • Near the emergency exit - In case of bigger emergency response for the injured, the eyewash station must be installed close the exits for quick responding time.
  • Unobstructed walkway - The path between the work station and the eyewash station should not be separated by any partition to attain the 10-seconds rule.
  • Not nearby electrical equipment - Since eyewash stations flush a specified amount of water, water splashes is very much possible, so it should not be placed near electrical units that are hazardous when wet.
  • A good drainage structure - Good drainage planning is important for the surplus of water; especially the splurge water is already harmful after use.

Water Specification:

A flow requirement of 1.5 liters per minute good enough for 15 minutes is the recommended delivery of fluid to both eyes. With these, a hard connection of water supply must be provided.

Temperature:

The tepid drenching water must maintain a temperature between 60 F to 100 F.

Maintenance and Training:

All eyewash stations are required for weekly flushing, cleaning off any deposits at the lines, and activating and checking of the required volume of water available. Instructing and training all employees to the appropriate use and location of the eyewash device must be consistently directed.

How Often Do Eyewash Stations Need to be Inspected According to OSHA?

Although eyewash stations are frequently unutilized, checking the device regularly is necessary to guarantee that the equipment will function in emergencies. All-day compliance or weekly inspection and maintenance of the eyewash station should be done by an assigned company worker to make sure that there is available rinsing water, sediment-free lines that will decrease impurities, steady tracking of the ongoing service life of the flushing solutions and other preventive maintenance check-ups.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Standard (OSHA) Act, eyewash stations are required to be inspected annually in compliance with ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 - a standard requirement for the use of eyewash and shower devices, for a more thorough evaluation of the devices. This will convey the appropriate installation, operations and maintenance of the eyewash devices.

Eyewash Station Inspection Must Be Done in Monthly and Annually Basis

An inspection and assessment protocol is a key measure to keep the eyewash device in proper running condition. The following are the steps in inspecting your eyewash unit:

Monthly Inspection:

  1. Unobstructed path traveling to the eyewash station.
  2. Check all parts if all are intact and working if there are any loose or broken part or unnecessary water discharge.
  3. Ensure nozzles are clean to prevent filth and impurities.
  4. Operate the unit for a minute to verify the continuous flow of water. Water must automatically flow within one second.
  5. Once activated, check if the nozzle comes off when the hose is activated.
  6. The device must distribute uninterrupted "non-damaging" water to both eyes to avoid eye damage.
  7. The valve activator must go on without requiring the help of the operator's hand until manually turned off.
  8. Collect run-off water under the eyewash device.
  9. Continue drenching until the water is clear and transparent.
  10. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and report any encountered problem to the provider.
  11. Keep the written inspection file for reference.

Annual Inspection:

  1. Test the current rate of flow. It must maintain a collective 1.5 liters of water good for 15 minutes of rinsing.
  2. Verify the tepidity of flowing water. Must be 60 F to 100 F (15 C to 37 C).
  3. Keep annual inspection file for reference.

Do We Need an Eyewash Station?

Eyewash station is a sprinkle or shower-like apparatus which spumes water on a worker with a chemical-related eye injury, but it is also designed to flush away substances along the face area. This device immediately cleanses off hazardous chemicals which accidentally enter the worker's eyes.
Eyewash stations are required to be in worksites which dispense chemicals, gases and hazardous substances which are eye-threatening injury.

The battery changing areas, laboratories, areas with the diffusion of fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers or similar chemicals like in crop-dusting activity, areas with high dust hazards or occupational dust, and jobs that cover dipping and coating effect, are some of the sites where eyewash stations are inevitable.

With the above-mentioned areas, eyewash stations are prompted and needed to provide employees the quickest and considerable comfort for accidental exposure from contamination. In addition, setting up an eyewash station is more economical and reasonable rather than experiencing company loss in production if an accident occurs due to employee’s medical expenses and workers' compensation.
However, the use of eyewash stations depends on the varying conditions of the workplace. In a form-filling, typing, desk-work set-up, or more like industry, the need for an eyewash station is uncalled-for.

How Does It Work?

When a chemical irritant splashes into a worker's eyes, an employee should know the proper use of the eyewash station so that the device will be an effective rescue to their sight. These are the steps:

  1. 10 Second Rule - Go straight to the eyewash station which should be located within 10 seconds distance. 
  2. Turn On - Push the lever to activate the water. The dust cover will come off. Water will start to flow from the faucet.
  3. Flushing - Head on the exposed eyes to the gushing water to start drenching. If you are wearing contact lenses, remove it first before water directly gets in the eyes.
  4. Hold On to the Eyes - The worker do not need to hold on to the lever, it's hands-free. Fingers are needed to hold on to the eyelids apart while the water is streaming into the eyes.
  5. Eye Movement - Roll your eyes evenly from different sides, and up and down to ensure fluids go are all over the eyes
  6. Don't Rub - Rubbing the eyes may coerce the substance deeper and may damage eye mass.
  7. Full 15-Minute Rule - To fully dilute and wash the chemical away, do not stop flushing for a full 15 minutes.
  8. Ask Medical Treatment - Consult an eye doctor for any damage and to preserve and restore sight. If the injury is severe, an emergency vehicle should be on standby.

How Long Should You Rinse Your Eyes in an Eyewash Station?

In an event of an eye-chemical exposure, the suggested standard of water rinsing should be 15 minutes. Although chemicals have varieties of reaction to the eyes, some may cause mild irritations, while others create severe eye injuries like burning and stinging effects, which eventually lead to a damaging and destructive eye problem. If the property specifications of the chemical are obtained, the washing time of eyes can be adjusted accordingly:

  • 5 minutes for none or light irritants
  • 15 to 20 minutes for average to serious irritations
  • 30 minutes for the most harmful and damaging chemicals and;
  • 60 minutes for the strong substances like sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide and aqueous ammonia and others.

On-the-spot soaking should be completely done continuously on the site. In case of a compromised scenario, like the breathing difficulty of the injured worker, transferring the exposed worker to an emergency room the soonest possible time is necessary. However, flushing should be carried on during the moving of the patient.

Do Eyewash Stations Need Tempered Water?

Since ANSI recommends that a chemical exposed worker needs to drench the eyes for a full 15 minutes, water temperature is a foremost concern.
The regulation states that the water temperature for the rinsing fluid in an eyewash station must be "tepid" -- having a temperature of between 60 F to 100 F (15 C to 37 C). This standard water temperature was put down because studies show that a temperature higher than 100 F is unhealthy to the eyes and escalates chemical responses with the eye. Remember that different chemicals react with water at different temperatures, so a standard water temperature has been set.

Also, tepid water can be tolerated by the eyes for the required length of time, meaning it is not too hot nor too cold. In this way, it permits compliance of the injured worker to reach the full 15 minutes of drenching to avoid chemical absorption and huge damage to the eyes.
Furthermore, using cold water in an eyewash station is not suggested. Coldwater can be refreshing but it can be a risk for hypothermia. While using tap water can painfully damage even healthy eyes.

To Make a Finalization

According to the article published in EHS Today, there were 800,000 annual eye injuries that happened while on the job, and almost 36,000 of those took a break from work, leaving a huge loss in the company's production. It is noted that one of the roots of workplace eye injuries is chemical burns. Although the use of safety goggles, face shields and other personal protective equipment (PPE) were evident, still the upshot of the injuries took place.

The aforementioned incident will be unlikely to happen if there was an alternative plan to minimize the effects of accidental exposure to chemicals such as spills, splashes and blown particles. The backup of having an eyewash station will be significant to reduce the effects of exposure to vicious materials and substances. In the occurrence that the workers' eyes are exposed to chemicals, the "then and there" or "instant" disinfection of the eye will transpire.

Eyewash station will be useful in soaking and saturating infected eyes with a significant amount of water, at the same time removing the hazardous substance and decreasing eye trauma. An accessible eyewash station will allow water to drizzle into the eyes while the worker is framing beneath the device, and the dispensed water is expelling the substances away. Thus, lessening the inflammation of the eye.