The ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 American National Standard covers emergency eye/face washes, showers, and combination units. It is important to know that emergency showers are designed to flush the user's body, and should not be used to flush the eyes as the high water flow pressure can damage the eyes. Eye wash stations are designed to flush the eyes/face area only. Combination units contain both features: a shower and an eyewash station. The main requirements for eyewash stations include providing a controlled flow of flushing fluid to both eyes simultaneously, at low velocity, and no less than 0.4 gallons per minute for the duration of 15 minutes. Ensuring that the appropriate flushing system is installed within 10 seconds or 55 feet from the hazardous area is critical. The first 10-15 seconds after exposure to hazardous substances are vitally important. Medical specialists define that the correct way to irrigate eyes is from the inside-out. Washing from the outside-in has the potential to increase the damage by pushing chemicals further into the nasal cavity and the lungs. OSHA has adopted several regulations that refer to the use of emergency eyewash and shower equipment. The primary regulation is contained in 29 CFR 1910.151, which 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.”
Why is this standard important?The ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 establishes minimum performance, installation, use and maintenance requirements for eyewash equipment in the emergency situation under hazardous conditions. Here are some of the most common causes for ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 non-compliance: missing dust covers expose nozzles to airborne contaminants, lack of proper signage on the equipment, poor lighting around the wash station, providing the improper equipment for the application (for instance, an eyewash instead of a face and eye wash), physical obstructions on the way to eyewash stations (a closed door), incorrect assembly of the unit parts (improper alignment of showerheads), lack of flow control to the eye wash, not providing the tepid water, insufficient water pressure and flow rate. Statistics shows that the most common reason for non-compliance is the inability to maintain the required flow rate when both shower and eye/face wash are activated at the same time (a standard requirement since 2009).
What does this mean for you?For the first time in 25 years, OSHA penalties for non-compliance have increased by 80 percent starting from August 1, 2016 in all states regulated by OSHA. It is time to ensure your workplace emergency response equipment meets the ANSI/OSEA Z358.1-2014 Standard to keep your workers safe and avoid those costly penalties. To ensure you are meeting all the necessary requirements, activate all eyewashes, drench showers and drench hose systems to ensure they are fully operational in case of an emergency. Replace any broken or missing parts immediately. Remove any obstructions or trip hazards on the way to the wash station area. Protect equipment against the extreme temperatures. Today, just providing emergency showers and eyewashes isn't enough, monitoring their condition is as important. Get started by taking the following steps:
- When working with chemicals, check their safety data sheets for first aid instructions
- Select eyewash equipment: plumbed if water source is available, and self-contained if there is no water source
- Place eyewash stations in proper locations, within a 10-second walking distance (about 55 feet) from a hazardous area. This is a new requirement as of 2016, so be sure to check the locations of your stations!
- Make sure all parts work properly: valves, heads, and drainage system
- Use potable water, i.e. water that is safe for drinking
- Use tepid water: 60-100°F
- Ensure eyewash uses correct water pressure: 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes
- Train employees on how to use an eyewash station
- Label equipment and routes with appropriate signs
- Test eyewash regularly: turn the system on once a week to flush the water