Eye Wash Station Inspection Requirements: All You Need To Know

eye wash station

Emergency eyewash stations play a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of employees working in environments where eye hazards are present. These stations provide immediate access to a flushing solution that can help minimize eye damage and potential injuries in case of accidental exposure to chemicals, foreign substances, or other harmful materials.

Not only are emergency eyewash stations essential for safeguarding the vision of workers, but they also carry legal obligations for employers to meet regulatory standards set by organizations such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). To understand the importance of emergency eyewash stations and the causes of non-compliance to regulations surrounding them, read on.

What is an Eye Wash Station?

An eye wash station is a specialized safety device designed to provide immediate flushing of the eyes in case of exposure to hazardous substances or foreign objects. It consists of a basin or a sink-like structure with built-in nozzles or spray heads that deliver a controlled flow of water to the eyes. The primary purpose of an eye wash station is to rinse the eyes thoroughly, helping to remove chemicals, irritants, or debris that may cause injury or damage to the eyes. Prompt and effective flushing can help alleviate discomfort, reduce the risk of long-term eye damage, and potentially prevent vision loss.

ANSI Z358.1 Standard

The ANSI Z358.1 standard is a widely recognized and referenced guideline established by the American National Standards Institute. It provides comprehensive requirements for emergency eyewash and shower equipment to ensure their effectiveness in mitigating eye and body injuries caused by hazardous substances. The standard focuses on various aspects, including equipment performance, installation, and maintenance, with the ultimate goal of safeguarding workers' safety.

Eye Wash Station Maintenance and Inspection

Regular inspections are crucial to maintaining the proper functioning of eye wash stations and ensuring their readiness for emergency situations. The eye wash station inspection schedule should be established based on factors such as frequency of use, environmental conditions, and manufacturer recommendations. Typically, inspections should be conducted at least once a week, though higher-risk environments may require more frequent checks. To comply with ANSI Z358.1, plumbed eye wash units need to be activated at least weekly (Section 5.5.2).

All units must also be thoroughly inspected annually to ensure compliance with the standard. (Section 5.5.5) It is important to assign trained personnel who will be responsible for performing these inspections and keeping detailed records of each inspection. Best practices for inspection of emergency eyewash stations include using inspection tags while inspection procedures are ongoing, assessing the clear signage and visibility of the eyewash stations, ensuring unobstructed access to them, and confirming that the stations are well-maintained and free from any damage or contamination.

emergency eyewash station

Eye Wash Station Inspection Checklist

  1. Flow Rate and Water Temperature: During inspections, verify that the eye wash station delivers a consistent flow of water at the required rate of 0.4 gallons per minute (1.5 liters per minute) for a minimum duration of 15 minutes. Additionally, ensure that the water temperature falls within the defined range of 60°F to 100°F.
  2. Activation and Operation: Test the activation mechanism to ensure it operates smoothly, allowing for immediate and easy activation in case of an emergency. Evaluate the functionality of any additional features, such as hands-free operation or drench showers if applicable. According to the standard, the hands-free, stay-open valve should activate in one second or less. (Section 5.1.4, 5.2)
  3. Cleanliness and Contaminant Removal: Inspect the eye wash basin, nozzles, and plumbing to ensure they are clean and free from any signs of contamination. Remove any debris, sediment, or buildup that may obstruct the flow of water or compromise the effectiveness of the eye wash station. ANSI Z358.1 states that spray heads should be covered for protection from airborne contaminant. The cover is removed by water flow. (Section 5.1.3)
  4. Accessibility and Signage: Ensure the eye wash station is easily accessible, unobstructed, and clearly identified with appropriate signage. Check that the signage is visible, legible, and includes the universal eyewash symbol.
  5. Equipment Repair and Replacement: Identify and address any damaged or malfunctioning components promptly. Also check for any leakage. Follow manufacturer guidelines for replacing worn-out or expired flushing solution, parts, or accessories.

Common Causes for Non-Compliance

Compliance with the ANSI Z358.1 Standard is of utmost importance to ensure that these safety devices are properly installed, maintained, and readily accessible when emergencies occur.

1. Lack of Awareness and Training

One of the primary reasons for noncompliance with the ANSI Z358.1 Standard is a lack of awareness and understanding regarding the requirements and importance of emergency eyewash and shower stations. Employers must recognize the critical nature of these safety measures and provide comprehensive training to employees, ensuring they know how to operate the equipment effectively during an emergency.

2. Inadequate Equipment Placement

Improper placement of emergency eyewash and shower stations is another common cause of noncompliance. The ANSI Z358.1 Standard clearly defines the need for these stations to be within a 10-second walking distance from hazardous areas. It is crucial to assess the workplace thoroughly and strategically position the stations in easily accessible locations to minimize response time.

3. Insufficient Number of Stations

Insufficient provision of emergency eyewash and shower stations is a grave violation of the ANSI Z358.1 Standard. Employers must conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine the appropriate number of stations required based on the potential hazards present in the workplace. Inadequate availability of these safety devices can significantly impede emergency response and exacerbate the severity of injuries.

4. Inadequate Duration of Flow

Inadequate duration of flow can undermine the intended purpose of emergency eyewash and shower stations. The ANSI Z358.1 Standard specifies that the flow of water should continue for a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure proper decontamination. Any interruption in the water flow can prolong the exposure to hazardous substances, leading to severe consequences for the affected individuals.

5. Lack of Maintenance and Testing

Regular maintenance and testing of emergency eyewash and shower stations are essential to ensure their functionality. Neglecting this aspect of compliance can result in malfunctioning equipment when emergencies occur. Routine inspections, activation tests, and preventive maintenance should be conducted to identify and address any issues promptly.

6. Absence of Clear Signage

Clear and conspicuous signage is a requirement outlined by the ANSI Z358.1 Standard. Absence or inadequacy of signage can impede the swift identification and utilization of emergency eyewash and shower stations during critical situations. Employers should place highly visible signs indicating the location of these safety devices. The signs should be universally understood and include appropriate symbols and instructions to guide individuals towards the nearest emergency eyewash and shower stations.

7. Lack of Documentation and Recordkeeping

Maintaining accurate documentation and records of inspections, maintenance, and employee training is crucial for compliance and demonstrating due diligence. These records provide evidence of ongoing compliance efforts and help identify any areas that require improvement. Consistent and organized recordkeeping is a vital component of a comprehensive safety program.

8. Failure to Stay Updated with Regulatory Changes

Regulatory requirements and standards may evolve over time. Failure to stay updated with the latest revisions to the ANSI Z358.1 Standard can lead to noncompliance. Employers must remain informed about any changes or updates to the standard and promptly implement necessary adjustments to ensure continued compliance.

eyewash station signage

Employee Training and Education

Training and educating employees about eye hazards in the workplace, proper use of eye wash stations, as well as emergency procedures and first aid is crucial for their overall protection.

Eye Hazards in the Workplace

Comprehensive training should be provided to employees regarding the various eye hazards present in their specific work environment. They should be educated about the types of chemicals, particles, or substances that can cause eye injuries and the associated risks. Emphasize the importance of wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles, face shields, or full-face respirators when working in hazardous areas.

Proper Use of Eye Wash Stations

Employees need to be trained on the proper use of eye wash stations. This includes understanding the correct positioning of the eyes and the flushing technique. They should be taught how to promptly and effectively activate the eye wash station during an emergency. Emphasize the importance of flushing the eyes for the recommended duration, typically at least 15 minutes, to ensure thorough rinsing and removal of contaminants.

Emergency Procedures and First Aid

Employees should be educated on the emergency procedures to follow in the event of an eye injury or exposure to hazardous materials. Provide training on basic first aid techniques for eye injuries, such as flushing the eyes with water before seeking medical attention. Guidance should be given on reporting incidents, seeking medical assistance, and documenting incident details for proper record-keeping.


1. Can a single eye wash station serve multiple work areas?

No, each work area should have its dedicated eye wash station within a 10-second travel distance. This ensures immediate access in case of an eye injury or exposure to hazardous substances.

2. Are self-contained eye wash stations sufficient for all workplaces?

Self-contained eye wash stations are suitable for workplaces where a plumbed water supply is limited or impractical. However, certain high-risk environments or those with higher usage may require plumbed eye wash stations to provide a continuous flow of water.

3. How should eye wash stations be cleaned and maintained?

Eye wash stations should be cleaned regularly according to the manufacturer's guidelines. This includes removing debris, sediment, or buildup that may affect the flow of water. Flushing solution and accessories should be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer.

4. What should I do if an eye wash station is not functioning properly?

If an eye wash station is not functioning properly, it should be immediately taken out of service and reported to the designated authority responsible for maintenance. Professional technicians should be called in to inspect and repair the equipment.

5. Can eye wash stations be used for other emergencies besides eye injuries?

Eye wash stations are specifically designed for eye injuries and should not be used for other emergencies. They are not suitable for general first aid purposes or as a substitute for a shower in case of full-body contamination.

6. Are there any specific training requirements for using eye wash stations?

Yes, employees should receive proper training on the location, operation, and maintenance of eye wash stations. Training should cover how to flush the eyes correctly, understand activation mechanisms, and recognize when to seek medical attention.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: 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.