Like fume hoods and Bunsen burners, eyewash/safety showers are an important part to any laboratory. These devices can help save a life in the event of gross chemical contamination. You should have a functioning eyewash and safety shower 10 seconds of clear travel from your workspace. Like fume hoods, safety showers should be inspected annually by the Environment, Health & Safety Department. If yours have not been inspected within the last year, contact the Environment, Health & Safety Department at 608-265-5000 (ask for Fire & Life Safety department) to have them inspected.
- If you are exposed to chemicals and need to use an eyewash/safety shower, you should flush the affected area for at least fifteen minutes to completely remove the chemical. Be sure to contact a physician if the situation warrants.
- Eyewashes must be checked weekly by laboratory personnel to ensure water flow and quality. This helps clean out any rust, scale deposits, or bacteria that may accumulate.
Weekly flushing of eyewashes need to be documented to comply with ANSI standards. See Eyewash Testing Log for example.
- The area around the safety equipment should always be free of clutter. It is impossible to access an eyewash with clutter in the way when your eyes are full of acid.
- The shower pull should be kept at a height that can be reached by all people in the laboratory.
- Eyewash nozzles should be protected by plastic end caps. These should be loose enough to be removed by the flow of water, but secure enough to prevent contamination from dust and chemicals.
- Portable squeeze bottles are not acceptable as eyewash units.
- Eyewashes and safety showers should never be substituted for use of personal protective equipment (glasses, goggles, gloves, aprons, etc.)
KEEP THE AREA CLEAR
The area around a safety shower/eyewash station should be kept clear of obstructions. For a shower the user should be able to get under the shower head without difficulty.
For sink mounted swing out eyewashes the counter space around the eyewash should be kept clear so the eyewash can be deployed without hitting obstructions.
Remember in an emergency the user may have obstructed vision due to chemicals in their eyes and moving quickly.
REPORT A PROBLEM
If your safety eyewash upon testing is deficient inform your lab and/or building manager so the safety eyewash can be repaired.
Wisconsin Administrative Code Comm 32.30 states:
Whenever the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to materials that are corrosive or can cause irreversible eye or bodily injury, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.
Note: The (Commerce) department will accept facilities that comply with ANSI standard z358.1-1998 Eyewash and Shower Equipment.
EH&S ANNUAL INSPECTION
Environment, Health and Safety Department performs annual flushing and inspection of over 2200 emergency eyewash/quick drench shower stations in campus buildings. There is no charge to your Department or facility for this service. Upon completion, a dated white tag is attached to the unit documenting this service and our database is updated.
On occasion, plumbing related issues are discovered and we submit these to the Service Building Plumbing Shop for corrective action(s). When service is needed a ‘red repair tag’ will be in place until completed. Repairs are also completed without charge. If you know the location of an untagged eyewash/shower or if a ‘red repair tag’ is in place for an inordinate length of time please contact Jeff Schiller at 608-225-7693.
When testing an safety eyewash station one must know how the water flow should look in order to determine when the eyewash has adequate flow. The flow from each nozzle should be six inches long and the flows should cross in the center of the eyewash nozzle mount near the apex. Both streams should be equal.
Think to yourself when testing; “I may have to use the safety eyewash in an emergency, would it actually wash chemicals out of my eyes.”
Safety Shower Eyewash (PDF)
Eyewash Testing Log (PDF)