How to Refill a Portable Eye Wash Station: Expert Guide & Tips

Portable eyewash refill

What is a Portable Eye Wash Station?

A portable eyewash station is an essential safety device designed to provide immediate decontamination, allowing workers to flush away hazardous substances that could cause injury to the eyes. These stations are particularly crucial in environments where chemicals or airborne particles are present. Unlike fixed stations, portable eye wash units can be relocated easily, offering flexibility and ensuring that emergency eyewash equipment is accessible during critical moments.

The primary features of these stations include a reservoir that holds the eyewash solution, which must meet stringent safety standards to ensure it is safe for use on human eyes. They typically operate without the need for plumbing connections, using gravity to feed the solution through dual spray heads that ensure gentle, thorough irrigation of both eyes simultaneously.

Workplace Safety Regulations and Standards

Portable eye wash stations are regulated under specific workplace safety standards to ensure they provide adequate occupational safety and protection for employees. The most significant of these is ANSI Z358.1-2014, which outlines the requirements for emergency eyewash station and emergency shower performance, including fluid volume, spray pattern, and accessibility. This standard ensures that all eyewash units are capable of delivering a controlled flow of flushing fluid for a minimum of 15 minutes, which is crucial for effectively neutralizing contaminants.

Specific Industries that Require Portable Eye Wash Stations

Industries that commonly require self contained or portable eyewash stations include chemical manufacturing, laboratories, and construction sites where hazardous materials like solvents, acids, or mineral dust are handled. These sectors are mandated to have eye wash station requirements in place due to the high risk of eye injuries, ensuring that workers have immediate access to first aid measures in the event of an exposure.


The Advantages of Portable Eyewash Stations

Portable eyewash stations is particularly advantageous in environments where permanent fixtures are impractical. These units can be swiftly relocated to high-risk areas during specific operations or in response to changing site conditions. This flexibility is invaluable during emergencies when immediate access to eyewash facilities could be the difference between minor irritation and severe ocular damage. Moreover, because they do not require plumbing, these stations can be deployed in remote or temporary locations, ensuring compliance with safety standards across a diverse range of environments.

Comparison with Fixed Eye Wash Stations

Compared to fixed eye wash stations, portable units provide several distinct advantages. While emergency eyewash and shower equipment require plumbing and are stationary, portable models can be moved directly to the site of potential exposure, enhancing their effectiveness. Another difference between the two is that fixed stations often serve well in stable environments with clear, consistent risks; however, for projects that evolve or occur in different locations, portable eyewash units are more practical.

These temporary treatment facilities are particularly useful on construction sites, outdoor areas, or in facilities where hazards are not confined to a single location. Moreover, the maintenance and installation of portable stations are generally less demanding, which can lead to cost savings and easier compliance with eyewash station maintenance standards and eye wash station requirements.


Step-by-Step Guide to Refilling

Choosing the Right Eyewash Solution for Refilling

Before you refill a portable eye wash station, it is important to choose the right eyewash solution to use. Using the appropriate eyewash solution is critical for ensuring effective first aid to prevent eye injury. Inappropriate or contaminated solutions can exacerbate injuries or lead to infections, undermining the safety measures in place. Moreover, compliance with eye wash station requirements includes selecting the correct fluid type that neutralizes the contaminants without causing additional harm to the eyes.

Sterile Solutions

Sterile solutions are single-use options that prevent contamination and infection risks when used in eye wash stations. These fluids are pre-mixed and sealed to ensure that they remain free from bacteria and fungi, offering a safe and effective method for eye decontamination immediately after exposure to harmful substances. One example is the saline solution which mimics the natural fluid of the eye, making it ideal for use in portable eyewash stations.

Preserved Solutions

Preserved solutions contain eyewash additives that help maintain the pH balance of the water to enhance its cleansing properties and ensure it remains safe for eye flushing and is effective at neutralizing harmful substances. These chemical agents allow the solution to be stored for extended periods before needing replacement. This type of eyewash solution is practical for workplaces where eye wash stations are not frequently used but must still be ready for emergencies.

Eyewash additives vary to cater to different safety and maintenance requirements in workplaces. Here are a few common types:

  • Buffered Saline Additives: These additives adjust the pH level of the water to closely match that of the human eye, reducing irritation during flushing. Buffered saline solutions are particularly effective for workplaces where chemical exposure may involve acidic or alkaline substances.
  • Antimicrobial Additives: Antimicrobial additives are used to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and fungi within the eyewash fluid. This type is essential for long-term maintenance of eye wash stations that are not frequently used, ensuring the solution remains sterile until activated.
  • Preservatives: Preservative additives are included in non-sterile water to extend its shelf life while maintaining safety for eye washing. These additives help inhibit the growth of microorganisms over time, making them suitable for stations that may not require daily or weekly use.
  • Chelating Agents: Chelating agents are added to bind with and neutralize specific contaminants, particularly heavy metals that might be present in industrial settings. This type of additive ensures that when the eye is flushed, the contaminant is effectively removed and neutralized, minimizing the risk of injury or irritation.

Each of these additives serves a specific purpose and is chosen based on the environmental hazards present at a particular workplace. Proper selection and maintenance of eyewash additives are crucial for ensuring effective emergency eye care and compliance with workplace safety standards.

Safety First: Pre-Refill Checklist

Before starting the refill of a portable eyewash station, it's crucial to implement safety precautions.

  1. Prepare the Area: Ensure the refilling area is clean and free of any potential contaminants.
  2. Check for Leaks, Damage, and Expiration Dates: Conduct a thorough inspection of the unit. Check the container and hoses for any signs of leaks or damage that could affect the function of the station or lead to further contamination. Repair or replace any faulty components as needed. It's also essential to check the expiration dates on all eyewash solutions and additives to be used.
  3. Cleaning Before Refilling: Cleaning the portable eyewash station is a critical step before refilling. Disassemble the parts that come into contact with the eyewash solution, such as nozzles and hoses. Clean these components with a soft brush or sponge and a suitable disinfectant that does not leave residues that could be harmful to the eyes. Rinse all parts thoroughly with sterile water to remove any traces of cleaning agents.

It's also important to have the right tools and protective equipment when refilling a portable eyewash station. Here’s a list of essential items:

  • Gloves: Nitrile or latex gloves to protect hands from chemicals and contaminants.
  • Safety Goggles: To shield eyes from splashes during the refilling process.
  • Clean Funnel: To pour solutions into the eyewash station without spilling.
  • Sterile Water Containers: To hold and transport the eyewash solution safely.
  • Measuring Cups or Containers: For accurately measuring and mixing eyewash solutions.
  • Waste Container: For safely disposing of old or expired eyewash solution.
  • pH Testing Strips: To verify the pH level of the solution matches that required for eye safety.
  • Documentation Checklist: To record maintenance activities and ensure compliance with safety standards.

Refill Process Guide: Instructions & Tips on How to Refill Safely

  1. Prepare the New Solution: If using a concentrated additive, mix it with sterile or treated water as per the manufacturer's instructions. Ensure the mixture meets the required standards for eyewash solutions. Never reuse old or expired solutions.
  2. Fill the Station: Use only sterile or appropriately treated water to prevent introducing bacteria or other pathogens into the eyewash solution. Using a clean funnel, carefully pour the prepared solution into the eyewash station’s reservoir until the pronounced max fill line. Avoid touching the inside of the container or spout of the funnel with your hands.
  3. Seal and Cover: After refilling, make sure the eyewash station is properly sealed and covered to prevent airborne contaminants from entering the tank.

Following these detailed steps and tips will help maintain the effectiveness and safety of your portable eyewash station, ensuring it is ready for immediate emergency use whenever needed.

How to Properly Test the Eye Wash Station After Refilling

  1. Test the Flow: Activate the emergency eyewash to check if it operates at the correct and continuous flow rate and temperature is vital for its effectiveness, typically between 0.4 and 0.8 gallons per minute as recommended by ANSI Z358.1-2014 standards. Additionally, check the temperature of the water; it should be tepid, ideally between 60°F and 100°F, to avoid causing thermal shock or increasing the victim’s discomfort.
  2. Check pH Levels: Use pH testing strips to confirm that the solution’s pH is appropriate for eye washing. Adjust the solution if it falls outside the safe range.
  3. Label and Document: Clearly label the eyewash station with the refill date and the expiration date of the solution. Record the maintenance activity in your safety compliance log.
  4. Perform a Final Inspection: Ensure that the area is clean and that all tools are put away. Remove and dispose of gloves and wash hands thoroughly after completing the refill.


Portable Eyewash Station Maintenance

Here are some expert tips on how to maintain the efficiency of your portable eye wash station:

  • Inspect for Damage: Regularly check the station for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks or leaks.
  • Clean Regularly: Thoroughly clean the tank, hoses, and nozzles to prevent buildup and ensure proper functionality.
  • Check Solution Quality: Regularly test the eyewash solution for contamination and ensure it is within its expiration date.
  • Test Operation: Frequently activate the station to ensure it is working smoothly and the flow rate is consistent.
  • Monitor Temperature and pH: Periodically check the temperature and pH levels of the solution to ensure they are within safe limits.
  • Keeping Logs and Records: Maintain detailed logs and records of inspections, maintenance activities, and solution changes.
  • Identifying and Solving Common Issues: Common issues like blockages and leaks can be identified during regular inspections. Clear blockages with appropriate tools, and tighten connections or replace damaged parts to resolve leaks.

Seek professional help if the station continues to malfunction after basic troubleshooting, or if there are persistent issues with the system's flow rate or pressure. Professional servicing is also recommended for complex repairs or when replacing major components.



What do you fill a portable eye wash station with?

A portable eyewash station should be filled with either a sterile saline solution, preserved water, or any appropriate FDA-approved eyewash solution that meets ANSI Z358.1-2014 standards.

How does a portable eye wash station work?

A portable eyewash station works by using gravity to deliver a controlled flow of eyewash solution through nozzles to flush the eyes, which can be activated by a push handle or foot pedal in emergency situations.

How often do portable eye wash stations need to be changed?

Portable eye wash stations should be checked at least monthly and the solution changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations or if it becomes contaminated. Generally, preserved solutions require changing every three to six months.

What are the checklist for portable eyewash inspection?

The checklist for portable eyewash inspection should include checking for cleanliness, ensuring the solution is not contaminated, verifying the expiration date of the solution, testing the flow rate and operation, and ensuring no leaks or damage to the unit.

Do eyewash bottles need to be inspected?

Yes, eyewash bottles need to be inspected regularly to ensure the solution is within the expiration date, the seals are intact, and there are no signs of contamination or damage to the bottles.

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.


Shop Tradesafe Products

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.