Many new chemical products are introduced into the workplace each year and even with careful planning and safety measures, harmful chemical-exposure can occur. Because of the potential for exposure, you’re required to maintain a list of all hazardous substances at each worksite. A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each substance must be readily available with a description that includes its location, risks, manufacturer’s precautions, and treatment or antidote measures.

Emergency wash station requirement

Emergency wash fixtures are required in the workplace if there is a reasonable risk that workers may be exposed to caustic chemicals or other hazardous substances. Inform all workers at risk of the location and purpose of the emergency wash stations and provide them with regular training on its use. Keep in mind that emergency wash fixtures are not substitutes for personal protective gear like safety eyewear, face shields, and protective clothing.

Some chemicals have a harmful reaction when mixed with another substance and may endanger the handler or those in the area. You can counteract a reaction by having emergency wash stations or showers that provide large amounts of continually flowing water to flush the chemical. It is not recommended that neutralizing agents be used on the eyes or skin. Combining certain chemicals can be dangerous and may increase the damaging effects of chemical burns. And, if the wrong neutralizing agent is accidentally used, scar tissue may develop.

Treating chemical contamination

The most effective step in treating chemical contamination of the eye or skin is immediate flushing or washing with potable water. Medical experts say that immediate access to an emergency wash station is critical. The chance of full recovery from chemical contamination of the eye is excellent, if the victim reaches an eyewash station within 10 to 15 seconds. Panic, pain, and obscured vision will slow response time, so it is important that emergency wash fixtures be highly visible.

Proper flushing/washing takes time

The length of time and amount of flushing or washing is key to the successful treatment of the eye or skin. The minimum amount of time for flushing the eye is 15 minutesalthough most medical experts say a full 20 to 30 minutes is best. It is important that the water pressure of the eyewash station be closely regulated because tender eye tissue can be easily damaged.

Establish first-aid procedures for chemical injuries then review and update these and all safety procedures on a regular basis.

Resources

Cal/OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

Cal/OSHA Emergency Wash Regulation

The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.