An emergency eyewash may go unused for long periods of time, but when an emergency occurs, it must function properly. The few seconds immediately following a chemical splash are often critical to minimize eye damage. It’s extremely important that eyewash stations and showers are kept in proper working order—if not, the consequences could be serious.
An emergency eyewash should be located on the same level as chemical hazards, have un-obstructed access, and require not more than 10 seconds to reach. A plumbed eyewash (one that is connected to a water source) should be tested weekly.
Additional requirements for eyewashes include the following:
- Eyewashes must supply a controlled flow of tepid water to both eyes simultaneously at a velocity low enough so as not to injure the user.
- Eyewashes must deliver at least 0.4 gallons/minute for 15 minutes at a minimum of 30 psi of flow pressure.
- Eyewashes must be large enough to provide room for the eyelids to be held open with the hands while the eyes are in the stream of water.
- If the eyewash nozzle has a protective cover, it shouldn’t require a separate action by the operator to activate the wash and remove the cover.
- The water flow must remain on without requiring the use of the operator’s hands and remain on until it is intentionally shut off.
- The valve that provides water and the sink itself must be resistant to corrosion.
- The eyewash must be marked with signage.