If you have an accident at work that involves your eyes, an emergency eyewash station can protect you from serious eye damage or the loss of your sight. When you work with corrosive, irritating, toxic, or tissue-damaging materials in the workplace, it is important to have an emergency eyewash station immediately available.
Emergency eyewash stations can be plumbed into the wall or provided as stand-alone stations with eyewash solution tanks or bottles. All eyewash stations should be reachable within 10 seconds from the areas where a splash or eye contamination is likely to occur. Pathways to eyewash stations should be free of barriers such as locked or latched doors (swinging doors are allowed), equipment, material storage, or poor housekeeping.
All eyewashes should have annual inspections to ensure they are operating properly. Plumbed eyewash stations need clean bowls, dust covers for the nozzles, and good water pressure. Check eyewash bottles and tanks for expired solutions according to the manufacturer’s instructions. All eyewash stations should be protected from freezing and provide room temperature to lukewarm flushing fluids. Activating handles should start the flow of fluids immediately. Fluids should flow for at least 15 minutes, or, in the case of eyewash bottles, long enough to reach a plumbed eyewash station. On a weekly basis, check plumbed eyewash stations to ensure that they are clean and working correctly. Use inspection check sheets for annual, periodic, and weekly inspections and keep copies of these records.
While emergency eyewashes are important in the workplace, using safe work practices can prevent the need to use them. Learn about the chemicals and materials you work with by reading the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for information on hazards, precautions, and recommended personal protective equipment (PPE). If you are working with chemicals that can splash or materials that may fly into your eyes, wear safety glasses with side-shields or splash goggles. Know where the emergency eyewash stations are located in your workplace and how to use them.
If your eyes are accidentally injured, immediately flush them with water or eyewash solution for at least 15 minutes. If your eyewash station or bottles do not have enough fluid to run that long, use them temporarily while you make your way to a plumbed station. When you start flushing your eye, hold your eyelids open and roll your eyeballs around to allow the fluid to flow on all of the surfaces of the eye and under the eyelid. Seek medical attention as soon as possible after flushing your eye.