18 Jul

Eye Wash Safety

Each day nearly 2000 American Workers suffer as a result of a workplace eye injurythat requires medical treatment.  Unfortunately, many workers skip the precautions that could protect their eyes.  In addition to the physical toll, there’s also a tremedous cost to business, amounting to an estimated $300 million annually in medical bills, downtime and compensation.

Perhaps most devastating is the fact that while vision loss is in the top 10 disabilities among American Workers, 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented.  Statistics show that 20 percent of eye injuries are the result of chemical eye burn.   In almost all cases, the recommended first-aid measure is to immediately flood the area affected area of the body with copious quantities of water for 15 to 30 minutes.  Having the right type of unit in the appropriate location is key.  The above eye wash station is one example of many solutions available. 

 Self-contained eye wash stations can be easily installed at every work station where hazards are present and require no on-going maintenance other than to periodically check the expiration date.  Refills are readily available. 

The OSHA mandateconcerning eye washes in the workplace is simple; any workplace where corrosives are present must have eye wash. As everyone knows, no amount of water will ever neutralize an acid or alkali, but rather, in quantity can dilute it. This is why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommends a 15 minute minimum flush time. However, given that permanent corneal damage can occur in as little as 45 seconds for accidents involving acids or alkalis, treatment time is measured in seconds, not minutes. In such cases, a pH neutralizing formula, available in mountable stations or as portable bottles offers an excellent and effective treatment .

Here are some guidelines in regards to eye wash station placement:

  • The eye wash should be within 10 seconds walking time from any potential hazard.
  • The path to the device should be unobstructed as possible.
  • The eye wash should be the same level as the hazard.
  • The standard calls for the water temperature to be tepid or lukewarm.

When the units are used, the water and or contaminants must go somewhere.  There should be a floor drain or contaminent basin near by.  The contaminents would need to be properly disposed of.  In some cases, a mop would be a good solution.  Provisions should be in place to get the floor area isolated until it can be cleaned so other employees don’t walk through the water and contaminents.

A trained professional can help to determine where chemical  exposures are likely to occur.  With the units in place, train all employees at risk in how to use the units.  Periodic inspection for cleanliness of the units will insure their effectivness when they are needed.