Choosing the Best Eyewash Station Location for Manufacturing: Dos and Don'ts

March 30, 2022 5 min read

 Choosing the Best Eyewash Station Location for Manufacturing: Dos and Don'ts

Eyewash stations are an important part of any manufacturing facility. They are required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards and are necessary to protect workers from potentially harmful chemicals and other substances that could cause serious injury or blindness.

This is why OSHA makes random visits to hazardous workplaces to check on safety compliance. Here's a quick guide to help you ensure that your eyewash stations are properly located and compliant with OSHA standards.

What Are Eyewash Stations?

An eye wash station is a device used to flush harmful substances from the eyes. Eyewash stations are typically made of a bowl or basin filled with water that can catch and drain water. In addition, they have a spout or nozzle designed to direct the flow of water into the eyes. Some emergency washouts also have a shower head that you can use to rinse the entire body if necessary.

Eyewash stations can be life-saving devices, especially in the manufacturing industry, if a worker is exposed to harmful chemicals or other substances. By quickly flushing the eyes with water, it can help to remove the substance and prevent serious injury.

How to Choose Eyewash Stations for Manufacturing

Eye Wash Station Safety Equipment

OSHA has specific standards for eyewash stations in the workplace. OSHA standard 1910.151 states that if there is a risk of exposure to corrosive materials, an eye wash station must be readily available.

In addition to the agency’s requirements, they refer to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines as the standard for providing emergency shower and eyewash stations in a hazardous workplace, including the manufacturing industry.

Dos for Choosing an Eyewash Station

  • Ensure that the station is easily accessible. If your employees are exposed to highly corrosive chemicals (as listed in the American Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment ANSI Z358.1), they should be installed 55 feet or 10 seconds away from the hazard.
  • The emergency eyewash should be clearly marked so that workers can find it quickly in an emergency.
  • The nozzles should be designed so that the removal of the covers doesn't require the users to touch anything that may have been contaminated.
  • Install an audio or visual alarm to notify workers when the station is used. This is also helpful in alerting other workers if the user is temporarily blinded.
  • Use a tempered water system to ensure that the water is not too hot (38°C/100° F) or too cold (16°C/60°F), which can further damage the eyes. You can do this by using a mixing valve or installing an automatic temperature control system.
  • Heat trace the piping for outdoor stations in cold climates and install an enclosure. On the other hand, installing anti-scalding devices helps regulate the water temperature of eyewash stations in a hot region.
  • The emergency eye wash stations should be equipped with a sign that gives instructions on how to use it properly. OSHA didn't provide a specific guideline about signages besides "suitable." However, the ANSI has adopted standard signage that is green and white in color with the word "EYEWASH" or "EMERGENCY EYEWASH" printed in big letters and a drawing of an eye and splashing water from a faucet. Reflective signage is always the best option because it keeps obstructions like boxes from blocking the station and makes it easier to find in low lighting conditions. Make sure to place it on a wall above the equipment to be visible from all directions.
  • Fit a fine mesh filter to the water supply pipe to avoid water-borne contaminants.
  • Choose appropriate stations for the type of substance that could be exposed. For example, if you're working with corrosive materials, you will need a different station type than if you are working with flammable liquids.
  • The stations must be easy to use. In an emergency, workers may not have the time or ability to read instructions. The stations should be designed to be used quickly and easily, with clear instructions on how to operate them.
  • Make sure the stations are properly maintained. It should be cleaned and inspected regularly to ensure that it is in good working condition.

Don'ts for Choosing an Eyewash Station

  • Don't remove or disable any safety features.
  • Don't place the station too close to the hazard, as this could put workers at further risk.
  • Don't allow the station to be blocked or obstructed. This could prevent workers from being able to use it in an emergency.
  • Don't forget to train employees to use the eyewash stations properly. They should know how to operate it and what to do in an emergency.
  • Don't install an eyewash station near electrical equipment. This could create a hazard if the equipment is damaged or wet.
  • Don't use the emergency eyewash for any other purpose than rinsing the eyes in an emergency. This could contaminate the station and make it ineffective in a real emergency.

How to Build an Eyewash Station

How to Build an Eyewash Station for Compliance

1. Site Evaluation

A thorough site inspection and evaluation are necessary to determine the best location for the station. Factors to consider include:

  • The proximity of the station to the hazard
  • The type of hazard
  • The number of workers that could be exposed
  • The layout of the facility
  • Other safety equipment in the area

2. Design and Construction

Once you have identified the best location for your eye wash stations, you can begin to design and construct it. Some factors to consider include:

  • The type of substance that could be exposed
  • The volume of water required
  • The flow rate of water
  • The temperature of the water

3. Water Supply

The next step is to choose a water supply for the station. The water should be clean and free of contaminants. A good option is to connect the station to the facility's potable water supply.

If this is not possible, another option is to use a container of clean water that can be replenished as needed. The container should be made of a material that will not rust or corrode, and it should be properly labeled.

4. Drainage

It is essential to have a drainage system to ensure that the water from the station does not create a pool and becomes a slip hazard. The drain should be located away from the station to prevent contaminated water from flowing back into the system.

The drain should be large enough to handle the volume of water that will be discharged, and it should be appropriately labeled.

5. Signage

Once the station is operational, it is important to mark it with signage. The signage should include the following information:

  • The name and address of the facility
  • A list of the hazards present in the area
  • The location of the nearest emergency exit
  • The location of the nearest telephone
  • The name and number of the facility's emergency contact

6. Testing and Maintenance

You should regularly test and maintain the station to ensure that it is in good working condition. Testing must be conducted monthly, and the station should be cleaned and inspected regularly.

Immediately clean and disinfect the station during a spill or other incident. This will help to prevent the spread of contaminants.

The Bottom Line

Eyewash stations are vital safety equipment in a manufacturing facility with a potential for exposure to hazardous chemicals. By following the proper location requirements and design guidelines, you can ensure that your station is effective and compliant with safety regulations.

Remember that the types of hazards present in the area are important when choosing your eyewash station's location. The station should be located near the hazard that is properly ventilated with a danger tag, but it should also be away from any potential sources of contamination.


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Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.


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