An eyewash station is something you may need, but hope you will never use. But if there’s an emergency, it’s there to flush out the eyes fast to prevent injury or blindness.
If you have hazardous substances, you may be OSHA-required to provide eyewash stations. Larger facilities may need more than one.
Provide employees with training, and have necessary safety signs properly placed. Signage needs to be large and clear enough for a worked with obstructed vision to see.
Emergency eyewash stations are a final stop-gap. Workers should not ignore their PPE, wearing goggles, gloves or other protective gear as required.
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Dan Clark: Hello friends, Dan Clark here of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Do you have to have an emergency eyewash station? They are designed to flush hazardous chemicals out of the eyes with fresh water, so they are often necessary in a work area where chemicals are used. Depends on the chemicals. OSHA’s requirements for eyewash stations vary by industry, but generally have these things in common:
1. The station must be placed anywhere were hazardous materials are used. That may mean having more than one eyewash station at the site.
2. Instructions have to be posted in dangerous areas. Employees should receive appropriate training.
3. Employees must know how to find the eyewash, even when the poor soul is stumbling around barely able to see. This means the area around the station must be clear and not cluttered.
You must have an eyewash in some situations you might not think they’re needed. For example, if hazardous chemicals are stored in sealed packaging, but the chemicals are open for any reason, then an eyewash is necessary.
Also, chemicals that are hazardous only in their undiluted form. If, most of the time in your facility, you’re using chemicals—when they’re mixed with water and, maybe, they’re less hazardous—but you still have them in the undiluted form when they are extremely hazardous, an eyewash is still necessary.
However if you have harsh chemicals going through a sealed pipe, though, no eyewash protection is needed.
The use of safety signs: you’re required to have signs throughout the facility pointing people toward the eyewash stations. These signs will help the employees quickly learn the locations and certain colors and large letters can even help a worker who just got a face full and has obstructed vision.
And remember, the eyewash station is a last resort. Remind employees that they must wear the proper protection when handling the chemicals, like goggles, glasses and gloves or whatever is required. They are the first line of defense.
That’s all for this episode. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at creativesafetysupply.com
OSHA provides this eTool on Eye and Face Protection.