Eye washer is one of the most important safety equipments in the workplace. In the area where chemicals are used, stored, loaded/unloaded and transported, eye washers are required since splash hazard potentially could happen. They can prevent eyes from getting injured due to chemical splash.
According to CDC (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention) in year 2000 there were 300,000 work-related eye injuries in the United States. 70% of all eye injuries cases were mainly caused by contact with materials or objects. Chemicals or chemical products exposures were responsible for 14% from those cases.
Even though every worker who works with various kinds of chemicals has used eye goggles and or face shield, but there is still possible for the worker to get eye injury due to chemical exposures. And eye washer, in this case, helps the eyes from getting damaged, i.e. by diluting chemical that comes into it with plenty of water, before getting further medical treatment in hospital.
Things to Consider When Installing Eye Washers
There are several factors that you need to take into your consideration when you plan to install eye washers for the workplace. In general, the bigger the work area the more eye washers will be required. And the more complicated the work area the more eye washers need to be installed.
Read the following tips for better installation, operation and maintenance of eye washer in the workplace:
- Always refer to ANSI Z358-2009 as the main reference for eye washer general minimum performance and use requirements.
- Eye washers should be accessible within 10 seconds from a hazardous area, where corrosive chemicals present. However, please consider to make their location closer because injured person needs more time to get to the location of eye washer.
- The unit shall be able to be activated in one second or less and can continue supply flushing fluid to both eyes for at least 15 minutes.
- Dust cover has to be installed to prevent contamination.
- The location where eye washer is installed should be free form obstructions and at the same level with the hazardous area. Door is considered to be an obstruction.
- Each level of hazardous area requires one eye washer station.
- Make the eye washer easy to recognize. Install a safety sign to make it easy to be identified and visible. A map of eye washer station could be very helpful.
- ANSI requires that water supply for eye washer should be at 30-90 PSI.
- Shut off valve used for maintenance purpose should be prevented from being closed. Valve key or lock-out tag-out can be used for this purpose.
- Temperature of tepid water used for eye washer should be kept at 60-100oF or 16-38oC.
- Training is necessary to be provided for workers who are exposed to hazardous chemicals.
- A weekly maintenance and testing is compulsory as per ANSI requirement.
- Waste water from eye washer station should be treated properly according to applicable waste water regulation in your area.
In addition, some people may use eye washer station for other purposes suppose for washing hands. This seems to be no problem at all. But, please educate your workers not use eye washer for any other purpose except only for eye flushing. Can you image what will happen when one worker with eye injury needs eye washer while at the same time the eye washer is being used for other purposes?
Evaluation is also necessary to determine whether the existing eye washer stations are enough to cover all hazardous areas with chemical splash hazards.