Safety Shower and Eye Wash Station Inspection Requirements: Ultimate Checklist

safety shower and eyewash station sign

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

Not only are emergency eye and shower 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 these industrial safety wash stations and the different inspection requirements to meet compliance with the regulations surrounding them, read on.


Eye Wash Stations and Safety Showers for Industrial Safety

In industrial environments where workers are routinely exposed to hazardous materials, the presence and accessibility of eye wash stations and emergency safety showers are critical for immediate decontamination and injury prevention. Incorporating these vital safety installations and ensuring they meet the specific needs of the workplace helps ensure safety and mitigate risks in such settings.

Eyewash Stations

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.

Types of Eyewash Stations

  • Plumbed Eye Wash Stations: These stations are connected to a continuous supply of potable water and designed for locations where hazardous exposure is a regular risk. They require plumbing into the facility's water system and offer the reliability of a constant water supply.
  • Self-Contained Eye Wash Stations: Ideal for areas without access to potable water or temporary worksites, these portable units contain their own flushing fluid, which must be regularly checked and replaced to ensure it meets safety standards.
  • Combination Eye Wash and Shower Stations: These units provide comprehensive decontamination capabilities, combining an eyewash station with a full-body safety shower. Combination units are essential in environments where the risk of extensive contamination is high, ensuring that workers can rapidly flush harmful substances from both the eyes and body.

Safety Showers

A safety shower is a form of industrial safety wash station that is designed to deliver a large volume of water over the body to quickly dilute and remove hazardous substances. They are an essential first aid response for chemical spills, fires, or exposure to other dangerous materials. Safety showers aid in providing immediate on-site decontamination to reduce the severity of injuries from hazard exposure.

Types of Safety Showers

  • Wall-mount showers: These are fixed to the wall and can vary in design, including Freeze-Resistant Wall-Mount Showers for cold environments and Hazardous Location Freeze-Resistant Heat-Trace Wall-Mount Showers, which are equipped with heat tracing to prevent freezing in extremely cold conditions.
  • Floor-mount showers: Positioned on the floor, these showers are suitable for facilities where wall mounting is not possible or practical. They offer flexibility in placement, ensuring that safety showers can be located as close to hazard areas as possible.
  • Ceiling-mount showers: These showers save space and are installed directly into the ceiling, providing a downward flow of water. This design minimizes the footprint of the safety equipment while ensuring effective decontamination.
  • Recessed ceiling-mount showers: Designed for facilities where aesthetics and space-saving are priorities, these showers are mounted into the ceiling but remain accessible through a recessed compartment. They are ideal for laboratories, pharmaceutical plants, and other environments where maintaining a clean, unobtrusive appearance is important.

 

Safety Shower and Eye Wash Station: Standards & Requirements

industrial emergency shower and eyewash station

Ensuring the safety of industrial environments necessitates compliance with established standards, particularly those concerning safety showers and eye wash stations.

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.

Safety Shower and Eye Wash Station Requirements

Below is a table summarizing the ANSI Z358.1 standards requirements for safety showers and eye wash stations, highlighting the critical aspects of their design, performance, and accessibility to ensure worker safety in industrial environments.

Requirement Category Safety Showers Eyewash Stations
Location Accessible within 10 seconds, no obstacles, on the same level Accessible within 10 seconds, no obstacles, on the same level
Identification Clearly marked with visible signage, well-lit area Clearly marked with visible signage, well-lit area
Water Temperature Tepid (60°F - 100°F or 16°C - 38°C) to avoid thermal shock Tepid (60°F - 100°F or 16°C - 38°C) to avoid thermal shock
Water Supply Minimum of 20 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes at a rate of 30 psi with a 20-inch diameter spray pattern 0.4 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes to both eyes at a rate of 30 psi, use eyewash gauge to monitor and test consistent flow pattern
Mounting Height and Accessibility Valve no higher than 69 inches; easy activation, unobstructed flow Nozzles positioned 33-45 inches from floor, easy, hands-free activation

 

Emergency Shower and Eye Wash Station Inspection Guideline

Regular inspections are crucial to maintaining the proper functioning of eye wash stations and emergency showers and ensuring their readiness for emergency situations. The safety shower and 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.

All units must also be thoroughly inspected annually to review and 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 industrial safety wash 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.

Here is a guideline and checklist on how to effectively conduct an emergency safety shower and eye wash station inspection in industrial workplaces.

Eyewash Stations Inspection Checklist:

  • 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 at the rate of 30 psi. Additionally, ensure that the water temperature falls within the defined range of 60°F to 100°F. Verify the unit is connected to an appropriate supply of flushing fluid, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Activation and Operation: Test the activation mechanism to ensure it operates smoothly, allowing for immediate and easy activation in case of an emergency. For plumbed and self-contained eye wash stations, ensure activation occurs in one second or less and remains open hands-free. Furthermore, make sure the valve opens fully and stays open without manual assistance. According to the standard, the hands-free, stay-open valve should activate in one second or less. (Section 5.1.4, 5.2). More importantly, check that the station is mounted correctly, complying with specified heights and distances from obstructions.
  • Cleanliness and Contaminant Removal: Inspect the eye wash basin, nozzles, and plumbing to ensure they are clean and free from any signs of contamination. Weekly, check nozzles and fluid for debris and remove 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 contaminants and that the cover is removable by water flow (Section 5.1.3). Any stored flushing fluid used for the eyewash station should also be checked and covered from any contaminants.
  • Accessibility and Signage: Ensure the eye wash station is easily accessible, unobstructed, and clearly identified with appropriate signage. Review the path of travel and remove potential obstructions such as pipes, storage containers, and the like. Also, check that the signage is visible, legible, and includes the universal eyewash symbol. Furthermore, make sure that the eyewash station is well-lit under all conditions.
  • 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 solutions, parts, or accessories. Check for visible signs of damage or wear and vigorously test operation to identify any functional issues. Replace any faulty components with parts that meet the ANSI Z358.1 specifications.

Safety Showers Inspection Checklist:

  • Flow Rate and Water Temperature: During inspections, confirm that the emergency shower delivers a minimum of 20 gallons per minute (75.7 lpm) during a 15-minute test. Check that the water temperature is tepid, ideally between 60°F - 100°F (16°C - 38°C), to prevent thermal shock or chemical reaction acceleration. Plumbed showers should be activated weekly to verify operation and ensure the availability of flushing fluid. For self-contained units, check the fluid level and quality, replenishing or changing as needed according to manufacturer’s guidelines. If shut-off valves are present for maintenance, check that there are measures to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Activation and Operation: The valve activation is critical in safety showers, especially during emergencies. To test this feature, ensure the shower can be activated in one second or less and remains open without needing to hold the valve. During activation, verify the shower pattern is adequately dispersed, covering a minimum diameter of 20 inches (50.8 cm) at 60 inches (152.4 cm) above the standing surface. In addition, make sure the top of the flushing fluid column is between 82-96 inches (208.3 cm and 243.8 cm) from the standing surface, with the center of the spray at least 16 inches (40.6 cm) from any obstruction. In environments where freezing is possible, confirm that freeze protection measures are in place or that equipment is freeze-protected.
  • Cleanliness and Contaminant Removal: For both plumbed and self-contained safety shower units, inspect for cleanliness and the absence of debris or contaminants that might block the flow. With the unit connected and the valve(s) closed, visually inspect all piping connections for leaks.
  • Accessibility and Signage: Quick and easy is critical when using safety showers. Therefore, ensure that the shower is located within 10 seconds’ reach from hazardous areas, on the same level, and the path is free of obstructions. Furthermore, confirm there is a highly visible sign indicating the shower's location and the area around it is well-lit for easy identification.
  • 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 solutions, parts, or accessories. Check for visible signs of damage or wear and vigorously test operation to identify any functional issues. Replace any faulty components with parts that meet the ANSI Z358.1 specifications.
eyewash station and safety shower inspection checklist

 

Common Causes for Non-Compliance

Compliance with the ANSI Z358.1 Standard is crucial 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 toward 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.

 

Emergency Shower and Eyewash: Employee Training and Education

eyewash station signage

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.

Hazards in the Workplace

Training employees to identify hazardous materials is crucial, including understanding the risks and how chemicals can affect the body through different exposure routes. 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. Furthermore, workers should be proficient in reading and interpreting Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for critical information on chemical properties, hazards, and first aid measures.

Proper Use of Eye Wash Stations and Safety Showers

It's essential for employees to know the locations and operation procedures of all eye wash and safety shower stations within their area. Training should emphasize the importance of immediate action following exposure, including flushing affected areas for at least 15 minutes and removing contaminated clothing to prevent further chemical exposure.

Emergency Procedures and First Aid

Employees must be familiar with the initial steps following an exposure, including how to alert supervisors or medical personnel. Understanding basic first aid and the importance of medical evaluation after an incident is key. Documenting the incident thoroughly is also crucial for safety records and treatment.

Effective Training Methods

To ensure readiness, employees should engage in hands-on demonstrations and regular emergency drills. Visual aids and continual learning opportunities about new procedures or hazards are vital components of an effective safety training program. Proper education on emergency showers and eyewash stations prepares employees to respond efficiently to incidents, significantly reducing the risk of injury and fostering a strong culture of safety.

 

FAQs

How long do you have to keep eyewash inspection records?

The recommended duration to retain eyewash inspection records is for at least 3 years to demonstrate compliance during safety audits. However, employers should also consider state regulations or company policies that may require longer retention periods.

What are the safety rules for eye wash stations?

Eye wash stations must be accessible within 10 seconds of hazardous areas, provide a continuous flow of tepid water for at least 15 minutes, be free of any obstruction, and be clearly marked with visible signage.

How often does OSHA require eyewash stations be inspected?

OSHA itself does not specify an inspection frequency but refers to ANSI Z358.1 for guidance, which recommends weekly activation to verify proper operation and an annual comprehensive inspection.

Do safety showers need a drain?

ANSI Z358.1 does not specifically require a drain for safety showers, but having a drain or other means to manage water is recommended to prevent slip hazards and manage the large volumes of water discharged.

What chemicals require a safety shower?

Safety showers are required for work with corrosive chemicals, substances that can cause burns or skin absorption leading to systemic toxicity, and any material identified by safety data sheets (SDS) as hazardous and requiring emergency decontamination measures.

What is the standard for a safety shower?

The primary standard for safety showers in the United States is ANSI Z358.1. It specifies requirements for performance, use, installation, and maintenance of emergency showers to ensure they provide effective decontamination in case of exposure to hazardous materials.

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.