Many employers use hazardous or corrosive chemicals. If that is the case in your facility, OSHA (§1910.151 – Medical Services & First Aid) requires that you have "quick drenching or flushing" facilities available for employees' eyes and body. There are a significant number of OSHA citations given out each year for non-compliance with this requirement.
The OSHA standard which requires emergency eyewashes and showers does not provide detail on the location or number of eyewash stations at a facility, but states that suitable facilities for quick flushing of the eyes and body are to be provided "within the work area for immediate emergency use."
The standard doesn't address how often the eyewash stations must be activated or when regular maintenance checks are to be made. The standard also doesn't address self-contained eyewash units.
There are any number of questions the employers have regarding eyewash stations, including where they must be located, water quality or temperature, how far employees can be allowed to travel to reach them, and how the eyewash station is to be identified.
As an employer, what should you do?
KellerOnline's Topic Index provides you with an Emergency Eyewash/Showers topic where you can find a variety of information on eyewash stations that may be helpful. In addition to the ez Explanation, there are the Frequently Asked Questions, and links to OSHA Letters of Interpretation on eyewash and shower stations.
The Emergency Eyewash/Showers topic provides you with a sample written plan, which you can use "as is" or edit as you may need in order to fit your operation's policies and procedures. In addition, you'll find several tools to assist you with training, including archived webcasts and employee videos, photos, posters, clip art, cartoons, and games and puzzles.
Finally, you'll find the OSHA letter of interpretation which explains that OSHA uses ANSI Z358.1 as a recognized source of guidance for protecting employees who are exposed to injurious corrosive materials. And while the ANSI standard has not been adopted by reference, the letter states that OSHA would take the ANSI standard into consideration when evaluating the adequacy of the protection provided by the employer.
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