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Eye Wash

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The proper eye wash and eye wash facilities are imperative for any environment that exposes people to "injurious corrosive materials." The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, under 29 CFR 1910.151, states that proper facilities for flushing the eyes and body must be immediately available to people who are exposed to those hazardous materials. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has elaborated on OSHA's regulations, and put forth further guidelines for safety in the workplace.

Some ANSI Considerations Regarding Eye Wash Units

Under the ANSI Z358.1 standard, which was originally written in 1981, and rewritten as recently in 1998, general considerations involving eyewash include considerations about location, operation, flow time, and water temperature. The station must be located in an area that is immediately accessible to people who are exposed to dangerous materials. For some materials, locating an eye wash station within 10 seconds of walking time is enough, but for more dangerous materials, it is important to locate the station immediately adjacent to the hazard.

A one-handed, easy to access operation is also imperative. A convenient pull down lever is a common feature on many eye wash stations, and offers an acceptable ease of use. Once activated, water or a pH-balanced cleansing solution must flow freely for at least fifteen minutes. Bottles of eyewash, contained in a cabinet or behind a barrier of any kind, are not acceptable under some conditions and may be cited as violations.

Lastly, the water must be a temperature that is comfortable and will not damage the eyes. In most cases, this means that tepid water, or water that is "lukewarm" will suffice. In some cases, however, warm water may compound a chemical reaction, so please consult with a professional to discuss the optimum water temperature for any specific application. In instances of plumbed units, or units that are connected to a building's plumbing network, disconnecting the hot water pipe from an eye wash station may be necessary.


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