Did anyone ever bother to tell you that the funny-looking plastic tank mounted on the wall in your facility is not an emergency water supply tank but your Emergency Eye Wash station! That’s why I continue to do this series to help you become more knowledgeable and successful at your job because information your boss should have passed on to you never got there and maybe because no one told them.
Any location in your facility where you store and/or work with chemicals must have an eyewash station. So in any backroom or basement storage area, warehouse, manufacturer, shipping dock, laboratory, or fast food kitchen where you handle chemicals, cleaning solvents, or bleach to clean, store, mix, or ship, there is the chance of a spill and a chance of getting it in your eye. You only have seconds to flush it out before serious damage can occur to the eye. That’s why you have an eyewash station set up within ten seconds (55 feet)in an unobstructed path from where you are working with those items so you can begin to flush the irritant out and this takes at least 15 minutes of continuous water to flush your eye out correctly. Even if the pain stops before then keep applying water to your eye and have another employee alert management of the situation immediately.
But no one told you this or about that thing in the dark corner on the wall, covered in dust and oily smudges with an old soda can sitting on it, and looks like it hasn’t been touched in months? Maybe Years? Are those algae growing in there? Now, imagine someone is in desperate need to use it, as the burning sensation in their eyes grows but the water is rancid or worse, it’s empty! Now as the person in charge, you’ll have an employee going to the E.R., an accident report to complete and OSHA forms to fill out, and a possible fine to the company. Do you think the company really won’t throw YOU under the bus?
You can prevent this scenario from occurring by adding to the checklist you’ve developed for yourself, the eye wash station. Begin and continue checking on a weekly basis that it activates as it’s supposed to and you can do it on your rounds. Monday, Wednesday it’s up to you. Whatever works. Then add to your list to inspect the unit itself annually for any issues that can cause it from functioning correctly and document it. Also make sure it’s in a well-lit area along with a highly visible sign, “Eye wash station”. There are several types available but they all must wash both eyes simultaneously no more than 8″ above the spray heads, which themselves should be protected from any airborne contaminants. If it’s a wall mount or other without plumbing, you need to treat the water and change it on a routine basis to ensure everyone’s safety. See the manufacturers’ guidelines on what they recommend.
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention you can prevent the need to use an eye wash station by wearing the proper PPE when working with any type of chemicals such as a face shield, goggles, and rubber gloves. Yes, even if cleaning. Stay safe, be patient, be mindful, and listen. You’ll be a success.
OTHER TYPES OF EYE WASH STATIONS