Eyewash in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

eyewash-station

When it comes to workplace safety, preparation comes first. An action plan and first aid supplies within reach will prove invaluable in an emergency or minor incident. But remember, there’s more to a first-aid kit than bandages, gauze pads and adhesive tapeFor example, you’ll want eyewash to flush particles or chemicals from the eyes.

In fact, OSHA requires eyewash to be available for immediate use anywhere a person is exposed to damaging, harsh materials. Having an emergency eyewash station and deluge shower on-site is essential for facilities to help quickly minimize damage. After all, OSHA regulations help reduce the risk of serious injury to employees, and that is something we can all get behind.

Squeeze Bottles vs. Eyewash Stations

Depending on the nature of your workspace, eyewash squeeze bottles might do just fine, though they are considered as a secondary and a supplement to ANSI compliant eyewash stations. A 16- or 32-ounce bottle will not meet OSHA regulations in an area “Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials…”

In Case of Emergency

If someone gets foreign particles or chemicals in his or her eyes, an emergency eyewash station or deluge shower is the first step of first aid treatment. If it is an actual chemical burn to the eye, then your emergency will be more urgent.

You’ll will want to immediately use an eyewash station or deluge shower if:

  • The chemical being used is toxic, caustic, or corrosive according to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • SDS indicates that serious eye injuries will result if the condition is not treated immediately
  • Labels warning “Causes Chemical Burns” or “Causes Permanent Eye Damage”

Eyewash stations and deluge showers must contain the following:

  • Clean water
  • Hands-free operability
  • Steady water flow for at least 15 minutes
  • Accessibility
  • Highly visible, multi-lingual signage

Do You Have Enough Eyewash?

Speed of care is critical in the event of hazardous or corrosive substances getting in the eyes of an employee. Eyewash should be applied within the first 10-15 seconds. Take a look at your floor plan and where workers may come in contact with chemicals in the facility. Would they be able to get treatment within the first 10-15 seconds? Make sure the path to first aid is clear from obstacles to increase the likelihood of a fast and full recovery.

Emergency eyewash stations can be one of the most important things you implement on a job site. For more ways to prep for safety on the job site, read our other posts on first-aid in the workplace or contact our safety experts.

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