Portable Eyewash Stations Inspection and Maintenance Guide

portable eyewash stations in remote area

In workplaces that lack plumbed-in eyewash stations—such as temporary job sites, remote locations, or facilities with limited plumbing infrastructure—portable eyewash stations offer a practical and compliant solution. These self-contained units can be strategically placed wherever they are needed most, providing flexibility and ensuring that eye safety is never compromised due to a lack of permanent facilities.

The effectiveness of portable eye wash stations, however, is contingent upon regular inspection and maintenance. Ensuring that these units are in proper working condition at all times is crucial for compliance with safety regulations and for the protection of workers. In this article, we will provide a detailed guide on how to inspect an OSHA eyewash station and cover essential maintenance practices, including refilling, cleaning, and ensuring proper water flow.


How Does a Portable Eyewash Station Work?

Portable eyewash stations rely on a gravity-fed system where the flushing fluid is stored in a tank and flows through specially designed nozzles when activated. This setup ensures a steady and controlled stream of fluid that covers the entire eye area to properly flush and remove contaminants. The nozzles are engineered to create a uniform and gentle spray pattern, providing effective irrigation without causing additional harm. The activation mechanism, which can be a push lever, pull strap, or twist valve, allows for immediate use, ensuring that the fluid reaches the eyes quickly to mitigate the risk of injury.


Portable Eyewash Station Requirements

The ANSI Z358.1 Standard for Emergency Eye Wash and Shower Equipment outlines specific requirements for portable eyewash stations, ensuring they meet the necessary performance and safety criteria. Key Requirements of the ANSI Z358.1 Standard:

    • Accessibility: Portable eyewash stations must be located within a 10-second travel distance from hazardous areas, ensuring they are readily accessible in an emergency. The path to the station should be free of obstructions.
    • Activation and Operation: The station must be easy to activate and capable of providing a continuous flow of flushing fluid to both eyes simultaneously. The activation mechanism should be simple and immediately operational.
    • Flow Rate and Duration: The emergency eye wash station must deliver a controlled flow of flushing fluid at a rate of at least 0.4 gallons per minute (1.5 liters per minute) for a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure thorough decontamination.
    • Fluid Quality: The flushing fluid used in portable eyewash units should be clean and potable or a sterile saline solution.
    • Temperature: The flushing fluid should be tepid, ideally between 60°F and 100°F (16°C to 38°C), to provide comfortable and effective irrigation.
    • Maintenance and Inspection: Regular inspections and maintenance are mandated to ensure the emergency eye wash station is always in working order. This includes checking the fluid levels, ensuring the nozzles are free from debris, and verifying the overall condition of the unit.


How to Inspect Portable Eyewash Stations

eye wash station wall sign

Inspecting a portable eye wash station involves regularly checking the condition and readiness of the eyewash unit to ensure it meets operational standards and regulatory requirements. Inspections should be carried out on two levels:

Weekly Inspection Checklist of Portable Eyewash Stations

These frequent checks are designed to quickly identify and address any immediate issues that might impede the station's functionality.

Accessibility and Signage: Ensure there are no obstructions blocking access to the station. Proper eyewash signage should be in place, clearly marking the location of the portable eye wash station OSHA. The signs should be visible from various angles and distances to ensure they can be quickly identified during an emergency.

Exterior Condition: Inspect the exterior of the OSHA eyewash station for any signs of damage. Look for cracks, leaks, or corrosion that could compromise the integrity of the unit. Damage to the tank or frame can affect the station’s ability to provide a continuous flow of flushing fluid and may pose a safety hazard.

Fluid Quality: Inspect the fluid for any signs of contamination, such as cloudiness, discoloration, or particles. The tepid water solution should be clear and free of any impurities. Check for any unusual or foul odors that might indicate microbial growth or other disease causing organisms.

Water Level: The water or eyewash solution level in the tank should be checked to ensure it is at the appropriate fill level specified by the manufacturer. An inadequate water level can result in insufficient flow during an emergency. If the level is low, refill the tank according to the manufacturer's guidelines. This ensures that there is always an adequate supply of flushing fluid available in an emergency.

Nozzles: Inspect the nozzles for any signs of blockage or damage. Ensure that the nozzle covers, if present, are intact and free from debris. Blocked or damaged nozzles can prevent the OSHA eyewash station from delivering a proper flow of fluid, rendering it ineffective in an emergency. Clean or replace the nozzles if necessary to maintain optimal functionality.

Annual Inspection of Portable Eyewash Stations

The annual comprehensive inspection includes all elements of the weekly checklist, along with additional detailed checks. The full system check includes inspecting all parts of the OSHA eyewash station, such as valves, seals, and connections. You should check for signs of wear, corrosion, or damage that could compromise the unit's performance. Ensure that all seals are intact and that there are no leaks. Test the valves to ensure they open and close smoothly and do not restrict the flow of fluid.


Portable Eyewash Station Maintenance Procedures

Portable emergency eyewash station maintenance tasks are typically performed based on the condition of the station and manufacturer’s recommendations, rather than on a strict schedule.

Refilling Maintenance

To properly refill the tank, follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely. This typically involves removing the tank cap or opening the designated refill port, and pouring in the specified amount of water or saline solution. The frequency of refilling will depend on factors such as the ambient temperature and the potential for algae growth. In warmer environments, the solution may need to be checked and refilled more frequently to prevent microbial contamination.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Disease causing organisms thrive in improperly maintained eyewash safety equipment. Regular cleaning and disinfection are essential to prevent contamination and ensure the eyewash station is always ready for safe use. Follow these steps to clean and disinfect eyewash units properly:

  1. Empty the Tank: Start by emptying any remaining solution from the tank.
  2. Apply Cleaning Solution: Use the manufacturer-recommended cleaning solutions to clean the tank, nozzles, and exterior surfaces.
  3. Scrub the Tank: Typically, this involves scrubbing the tank interior with a brush and the cleaning solution, ensuring all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.
  4. Rinse the Tank: Rinse the tank with clean water to remove any remaining soap residue.
  5. Clean the Nozzles: Remove the nozzles, if possible, and soak them in the cleaning solution, followed by a rinse with clean water.
  6. Reassemble and Refill: Reassemble the station after cleaning and refill it with fresh, clean water or sterile saline solution.

Checking Water Flow

Begin by activating the station using its lever, strap, or valve, and allow it to run for a minimum of 15 minutes. Observe the flow to ensure water or saline solution flows from both nozzles with sufficient pressure and in a continuous, even spray pattern. Use a flow meter to verify that the flow rate meets the ANSI Z358.1 Standard, which requires at least 0.4 gallons per minute (1.5 liters per minute). This test confirms that the portable OSHA eyewash station can deliver the required fluid volume and pressure to effectively rinse the eyes in an emergency.

Component Replacement

Regularly replacing the eyewash solution according to the manufacturer’s recommendations is essential to maintain its effectiveness. This involves draining the old solution, cleaning the tank, and refilling it with fresh solution. Additionally, the entire portable OSHA eyewash station should be inspected for signs of age, damage, or malfunction. If any parts are worn, leaking, or otherwise compromised, they should be replaced immediately. Corrosion can create holes in the pipes of the eye wash unit, causing leaks and supplying insufficient pressure. Following a scheduled replacement plan helps ensure the portable eye wash stations remain reliable and ready for use.


Where to buy Portable Eyewash Stations?

TRADESAFE provides Portable Eyewash Stations synonymous with premium quality, ensuring reliability and safety in emergency situations. Crafted from durable, high-grade materials, our emergency eyewash stations are built to withstand harsh industrial environments. Compliance with stringent OSHA and ANSI standards guarantees that TRADESAFE Eyewash Stations provide superior protection and peace of mind.


Portable Eyewash Stations FAQs

How often do portable eyewash stations need to be changed?

Portable eyewash stations should be changed based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, typically every 3 to 6 months, or whenever there is any sign of contamination or expiration of the solution.

How often does OSHA recommend flushing eyewash stations?

OSHA recommends flushing plumbed eyewash stations weekly to ensure clean and usable water. For portable units, regular maintenance and inspection schedules should be followed, including checking the water quality and levels frequently.

What are the ANSI requirements for portable eyewash?

The ANSI Z358.1 Standard requires portable eyewash stations to be easily accessible, provide a continuous flow of flushing fluid at a rate of 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes, use clean and uncontaminated fluid, and be inspected and maintained regularly to ensure proper function.

How do you provide tepid water to a portable eyewash station?

Tepid water, defined as between 60°F and 100°F (16°C to 38°C), can be provided to a portable eyewash station by using pre-mixed tepid water solutions, thermal mixing valves, or insulated tanks with heating or cooling elements to maintain the appropriate temperature.

What should eyewash stations not be used for?

Eyewash stations should not be used for purposes other than emergency eye rinsing, such as general handwashing or cleaning tools, as this can contaminate the unit and reduce its effectiveness in an emergency.

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.