Eyewash and Safety Shower Facilities
Indoors, emergency eyewash and safety showers are required within 10-seconds travel distance and not more than 75 feet from where toxic chemicals are used. These facilities must be on the same level as the chemical area; there can be no stairs or ramps between the hazard and the eyewash and/or safety shower. Units must be plumbed units that meet the ANSI Standard Z358.1 (Figure 3.2).
Some field operations and other locations where plumbing connections are not available might require a non-plumbed unit (Figures 3.3a and 3.3b). Do not use these non-plumbed units in areas where plumbed units can be installed. Non-plumbed units are available that meet the ANSI requirements for flow and duration (1.5 liters/0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes). However, non-plumbed units are more difficult to maintain. Their solutions require frequent changing per manufacturer’s instructions. Because most non-plumbed units do not have a significant reserve capacity, you must refill them after every use or test to ensure they maintain the required minimum flow and duration.
Hand held drench hoses in laboratories are a supplement, but not a substitute, for an eyewash and safety shower. Personal eye flush squeeze bottles (Figure 3.3c) do not meet ANSI requirements, because they cannot deliver the required minimum flow rate and duration. EHS discourages the presence of these bottles in your lab because they have a limited shelf life, are prone to contamination, and are ineffective at dual-eye or eye-face irrigation.
Because some chemicals, even in small amounts, can irritate or damage skin upon contact, flush affected areas with water as soon as possible. Remove personal protective equipment and clothing in the areas of chemical contact once you or your co-workers have activated the shower. Fellow workers may need to help remove contaminated clothing. Call 911 if immediate medical attention is necessary. Contact the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (919-966-9119) immediately. Remain in the shower or continue flushing the eyes for no less than 15 minutes.
Each research group is responsible for ensuring that emergency eyewash facilities, both within its laboratory space and in nearby common areas, remain operational and accessible. Check the system at least once a month. A quick (~5 second) activation of the eyewash verifies water pressure, and flushes rust, scale, and other debris out of the system. Perform these checks on all eyewash facilities that your research group might use, even if the facilities are located in common areas outside the group’s lab room(s). Verify monthly eyewash checks by filling out inspection tags located on or near the units. After performing the monthly check, make sure that water does not remain on the floor to create a slip hazard for personnel. This is an especially important consideration for eyewash facilities located in common corridors and that lack floor drains. For these facilities, use buckets, secondary containment trays, or other collection devices to prevent discharge of water directly onto the floor.
Facilities Services checks safety showers and has the equipment necessary to contain, collect, and cleanup the large volume of water discharged by a safety shower test.