In terms of the damage that harmful chemicals can cause to workers in a laboratory, commercial, or industrial environment, eye damage is among the most likely to occur.
The eyes are vulnerable, protected only by eyelids and lashes and touched often, most of the time unconsciously.
In environments where workers are in regular contact with chemicals that can cause irritation, damage, or blindness through exposure to eyes, it is essential that emergency eye wash stations are available.
What is an emergency eye wash station?
Emergency eye wash stations are specially designed water fountains that enable easy access to eye washing.
They are created with efficiency in mind and direct a soft flow of water straight to the eyes, making it simple for injured individuals to completely rinse their eyes with minimal effort required.
They can provide irrigation when dust, irritants, or chemicals get in the eyes, and it’s recommended that they are used for 15 minutes to properly clear the affected area of contaminants or until suitable medical help arrives.
Where are eye wash stations required?
The requirements for emergency eye washes and showers laid out by HSE in 29 CFR 1910.151(c) says:
‘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.’
As per the safety shower and/or eyewash station requirements, safety showers and emergency eye wash stations must be installed where an employee’s eyes or body could be exposed to harmful corrosive materials.
Common industries where you would find dangerous corrosive materials include certain types of manufacturing plants, chemical processing factories, scientific laboratories, disinfection or chemical cleaning plants, healthcare facilities and commercial kitchens.
The best way to tell if a place of work requires an emergency eye wash station is to carry out a risk assessment by reviewing the safety data sheets (SDS) of all chemicals that are used in the environment and assessing whether an extended eye wash would be required in case of an emergency.
What types of eye wash stations are there?
Bench mounted eye wash stations are perfect for laboratories where they can be located on the same surface as the potentially dangerous chemicals – completely minimising the time it takes to respond to an emergency. They’re available with and without sinks
Floor mounted eye wash stations are best for environments where there isn’t an option for permanent fixing .
Wall mounted eye wash stations are ideal for environments where space is at a premium. They can be extremely compact which means they can be located close to potential areas of risk (up to a maximum of 10 seconds away) without causing obstructions.