Eye injuries have the potential to cause a number of life-changing complications for workers and employers alike. In addition to being extremely painful, they can leave victims permanently disabled and employers liable for the injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, eye injuries account for $300 million in worker compensation, medical costs and lost production. In order to maximize safety and minimize the risk of eye injury, OSHA requires emergency eyewash stations to be readily accessible to workers in certain facilities:
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151(c)
“Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick, drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided with in the work area for immediate emergency use.”
While OSHA outlines the basic need for eyewash stations, they defer to the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, for detailed requirements. Read the information below to help you understand the essential requirements for eyewash stations and protect yourself and your workers on the job.*
Does my facility need an eyewash station?
In general, facilities are required to have an eyewash station where potentially hazardous materials are handled by workers. These can include facilities that use material with the following labels:
- Health hazard
Eyewash station checklist
Use this list to help you make sure your facility complies with eyewash station requirements.
Is the unit located within a 10-second distance of the workspace?
ANSI requires eyewash and emergency drenching stations to be immediately available and within a 10-second walking distance from hazardous work areas. When walking at a normal pace, the average person can cover about 55 feet within 10 seconds.
Is the eyewash station clearly labeled with visible signage?
Make sure the eyewash stations in your facility have the appropriate signage and are clearly marked for all workers to see.
Is the eyewash station regularly tested and inspected?
The eyewash unit should be activated weekly to make sure it functions properly and is able to supply water. An annual inspection should be conducted to ensure compliance with the standards for operation.
Does the water flow at a tepid and consistent temperature?
In order to allow workers to use the station for a full 15 minutes in the event of exposure to hazardous materials, the water should be delivered at a temperature of about 60 F to 100 F on demand. Water that is too cold will make the station uncomfortable to use, and water that is too hot can cause additional eye irritation.
Pro tip: Installing a tankless water heater with your eyewash station at the point of use could help you meet the temperature requirements while cutting energy costs. See how >>
*Please note that this content is not comprehensive list of eyewash station requirements. For complete information, contact the ANSI.