Eyewash Stations & Avoiding Eye Injuries

If you have ever experienced even the slightest pain in your eyes it’s not hard to imagine that eye injuries on the job can be extremely painful, and that the damage can be permanent and even result in vision loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are an average of 2,000 work-related eye injuries reported every day in the U.S., resulting from dangerous materials making contact with the eyes.

Because of the potential severity of this type of eye-related injuries, OSHA has adopted several regulations that refer to the use of emergency eyewash equipment. The primary regulation is contained in 29 CFR 1910.151 and requires that “…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.”

In order to prevent the occurrence of eye injuries due to splashing, make sure all staff are trained on the proper mixing, handling and disposal of hazardous chemicals, liquids and materials. Also, ensure that workers have access to and are using adequate protective eye gear when necessary. Be certain that employees not only know where eyewash stations are located, but also how to use eyewash/drench hoses properly. And as with the prevention of any workplace injury, it’s necessary to have a comprehensive emergency response plan in place.

Here’s what you need to know about eye wash station regulations and uses:

Location and Positioning Requirements

  • Place all eyewash stations in well-lit locations with highly visible signage.
  • Install an eyewash station adjacent to any location where strong acids or caustics are handled. The unit must be placed within 10 seconds, (Approx. 55 steps) of the identified hazard, on the same level as the hazard and with a clear unobstructed path for easy/swift access to the unit.

Note: Contact your Redwoods consultant for professional guidance on the placement and installation of units at your facility.

Water Temperature and Flow

  • The water dispensed by your eyewash stations must be tepid, between 60-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ensure that your units dispense a controlled flow of water at a rate of no less than 1.5 liters/minute for 15 minutes.

Maintenance and Inspection

  • Develop a checklist to track the maintenance and inspection of your units.
  • Test eyewash stations at least weekly.
  • Clean eyewash area and keep free from contaminants.
  • Fully inspect all units annually to ensure safety compliance.
  • Make provisions to prevent the unauthorized shut-off of valves that have been installed in the supply line.
  • Have a plan in place to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Use corrosion-resistant materials when cleaning.

Note: Compliance requirements for eyewash stations vary from state to state. Be sure to check your state’s requirements to ensure that all of your eyewash units are installed properly and are up to code.

If your eyes come into contact with hazardous chemicals, materials or liquids while on the job you should:

  • Seek help immediately.
  • Begin flushing your eyes at an eyewash station.
  • Implement your emergency response plan.
  • Call poison control if irritation, pain, visual problems, redness, swelling or tearing are present, are severe or persist after an hour.