If you have corrosive materials in your workplace, OSHA requires that you have "suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing" within the work area for immediate use, per 29 CFR 1910.151(c). Unfortunately, the OSHA standard does not have any technical details, nor does it answer the questions that many have about eyewash/shower stations.
Questions such as: Where does the eyewash have to be located? How far can an employee travel to get to one? How does the employer have to identify an eyewash/shower station? Is there a quantity of corrosive chemical that triggers the eyewash requirement?
There are also a number of questions regarding maintenance. How often do they have to be activated? Who can do maintenance on them? What about locations which are too cold for normal eyewash stations? Does OSHA take the ANSI eyewash standard into account when evaluating a workplace?
What do you do if you have questions on your emergency eyewash/shower stations?
And you'll find the answer to some of the more common questions. For instance, signs marking the location of the eyewash station are helpful in emergencies, but not specifically required by OSHA. However, ANSI Z358.1, American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, recommends signs be used to "identify" eyewash locations.
There is no threshold quantity of corrosive material that triggers the requirement. The determining factor is the possible exposure of an employee to injury from contact with a corrosive material.
ANSI standards become mandatory when and if they are adopted by OSHA; ANSI Z358.1 was not adopted by OSHA. However, ANSI Z358.1 provides detailed information regarding the installation and operation of emergency eyewash and shower equipment and OSHA has often referred employers to ANSI Z358.1 as a recognized source of guidance.
According to ANSI, eyewashes and showers should be located as close as possible to the hazard, and on the same level. The more hazardous the material, the closer in time and distance the unit should be. ANSI says that an eyewash and shower shall be no farther than a 10 second travel time from the hazard.
KOL also provides the following resources to assist you in planning and training your workforce on emergency eyewash/showers:
Online Training Course– Safety Showers and Eye Washes
Written Plan– First Aid Programs
Webcast Archive– First Aid, AEDs, and Emergency Eyewash Stations: What OSHA expects
For more information on this topic, visit the J.J. Keller & Associates Web site at www.jjkeller.com.