Emergency Eyewash Compliance: Putting it All Together

As the safety expert, you are tasked with understanding and complying with OSHA and ANSI guidelines for emergency eyewash. This may seem daunting but, in reality, it is quite simple with all of the support available from manufacturers and compliance...

Knowledge of the standards coupled with a dedicated program of training and education for employees is an essential ingredient to any compliance program.
Training should be given to all workers. Never assume workers are already aware of proper procedures. Before emergency occurs, employees must know what an emergency eyewash station is, when it should be used and where the closest one is located.

Without proper maintenance, which includes inspection, care, cleaning and repair; the effectiveness and functionality of the eyewash station cannot be assumed.

Plumbed units require weekly maintenance. According to ANSI, plumbed eyewash units should be activated weekly to flush out sediment build-up and dangerous microbial contaminants in the pipes. Maintenance of multiple eyewash units can represent a substantial labor and cost commitment to ensure each eyewash station is flushed and checked for usability.

Self-contained units require maintenance according to the manufacturer’s instruction. That typically involves cleaning and changing the flushing fluid as often as every week with untreated tap water, to every six months with tap water mixed with an additive.

Unlike plumbed fixtures or other self-contained portable systems, which require frequent maintenance and measuring and mixing of the solution, sealed cartridges last up to two years and take less than five minutes to replace. Virtually no maintenance other than visual inspection is necessary over the course of the two-year shelf-life to ensure that the cartridges are intact and not activated.

Complying with OSHA and ANSI is a necessary part of ensuring employee safety and avoiding a fine for non-compliance. Of course, prevention is the first step to keep employees safe from eye injuries, but just as important is having a system in place should injury occur. That means not only having emergency eyewash stations available, but also having employees who are educated and trained in their use and maintenance. Help is out there; ANSI (www.ansi.org), OSHA (www.osha.gov) and The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) (www.safetyequipment.org) all provide compliance support. Local manufacturers and distributors are also there to answer questions and help with hazard assessments.

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