Anytime that someone is exposed to chemicals, the first thing you should consider is protecting the eyes.  The eyes are the most susceptible part of the body as they absorb chemicals much faster than the skin, leading to increased risks of chemical burn and poisoning. That’s why eye and face wash stations are so important – the first 5-10 seconds after exposure is critical, and every second counts after exposure to a hazardous chemical.  

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 2,000 US workers require medical treatment for an eye injury each day.   

To avoid becoming a statistic, you should provide your crew with emergency eyewash and shower equipment. If a hazardous chemical comes in contact with the eyes, it could require the flushing of up to 20 gallons per minute for 20 minutes – that’s a lot of flushing and a lot of water, which a simple faucet would not be able to cover.  

OSHA states that “…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 within the work area for immediate emergency use.” 

About the ANSI Z358 Standard

The ANSI Z358 has been developed by the American National Standards Institution as a standard to protect workers from hazardous substances found at the workplace by setting minimum requirements for eyewash stations and shower equipment.  

A few hazardous substances likely found at your facility are: 

  • Sulfuric acid in lead-acid batteries
  • Sodium hydroxide in bleach and soaps
  • Fungicides
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides

If you have any of these substances at your facility, it’s important for you to get familiarized with the ANSI Z358 Standard and ensure that you’re in compliance with it.

The ANSI Z358 standard addresses the design and installation of eyewash stations and showers, performance and usage of those stations, maintenance of equipment, crew training, and certification and testing procedures.

It states that you must have eyewash and flushing stations available to employees exposed to hazardous chemicals

Types of Stations

The standard deals with three primary types of emergency eyewash and shower stations:

  1.  Eyewash stations for splashes in which only the eyes are affected: these require flushing of 0.4 gallons of water per minute at 30 PSI for 15 minutes. If you just did the math, that’s 6 total gallons.
  2. Eye and face wash equipment for situations where both the eyes and the face come in contact with hazardous chemicals. These require flushing of 3 gallons per minute at 30 PSI for 15 minutes. That’s 45 total gallons.
  3. Emergency showers for splashes that affect more than just the face. These require 20 gallons per minute at 30 PSI for 15 minutes. That’s a whopping 300 gallons total.

 Flushing Unit Requirements

  • Flushing units must be able to flush the affected area for at least 15 minutes
  • The water pressure must be low enough that it does not cause additional damage
  • Units must be located within 10 seconds/55 feet of the hazard
  • Unit must have adequate signage and be well lit
  • Units should be inspected and tested every week
  • The water temperature should be between 60-100F

Selecting Eyewash Stations

So, what types of eyewash stations are acceptable under this standard? As previously mentioned, there are three types of eyewash stations – for the eyes only, for the eyes and face, and for larger affected areas.

The particular type of station you need depends on the chemicals you have at your facility. In short, permanent eyewash stations and self-contained portable showers and eyewash stations are both acceptable. The ANSI Z358 has different standards for each, but most of them are the same:

  • Each type of station should flush the required gallons per minute at 30 PSI for at least 15 minutes
  • It should have a hands-free valve that stays open
  • The water flow should activate within a second
  • The water source should be positioned between 33 to 45 inches from the floor or surface the victim stands on, and at least 6 inches away from a wall
  • The eyewash fluids should be able to flush both eyes at the same time

If you need to install eyewash stations, keep in mind that there are two different types: portable and permanent. Each of these has its own unique advantages… but keep in mind that one of the main advantages of a portable station is that it is portable. Unfortunately, the portable stations are limited in quantity and can’t really meet the required gallonage to comply with the guidelines. 

This is not to discourage you from installing small portable units around your facility.  It’s just to let you know that they will not guarantee compliance.  If you’re locating a unit near the pesticide storage and mix load facility the only units that would meet the regulations would be a permanently attached to the building’s plumbing. Permanent units are usually not the most cost-effective option, but they do not require liquid replacement after each use and have the benefit of unlimited gallonage. 

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