EMERGENCY EYEWASH STATION REQUIREMENTS
ANSI Z358.1 2009 STANDARD
Since the ANSI Z358.1 standard for this
emergency flushing equipment was initiated in 1981, there have been four
revisions with the latest at the end of 2009. There are some key
elements in the 2009 standard that make it imperative for all, who
have an eyewash station, drench shower or combination shower in their
facility, to be aware of in order to be compliant. In the FAQ's below,
you will find answers that are commonly asked about this emergency
equipment in addition to the changes made with the most recent
standard. We hope this is helpful to you and your organization.
Who determines when a facility needs an emergency eyewash station?
The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) is
the regulatory agency that specifies where and when this emergency
equipment is needed and OSHA depends on the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) to develop standards to specify the use and performance
requirements. ANSI developed the ANSI Z 358.1 standard for this
What is the criteria that OSHA uses to make this determination?
OSHA states that whenever the eyes or body of a person
could be exposed to corrosive material, then a facility shall provide
equipment for the flushing and quick drenching in the work area for
immediate emergency use.
What type of material is considered to be a corrosive material?
A chemical would be considered corrosive if it destroys
or changes (irreversibly) the structure of human tissue at the site of
contact after exposure for a specified period of time thereafter.
How do you know if a material in a workplace is corrosive?
Corrosive material is present in many workplaces either
by themselves or contained in other materials. It is a good idea to
refer to the MSDS sheets for all materials that there are exposures to
in the workplace.
How long have the ANSI standards for this equipment been available for the industrial workplace?
The ANSI Z 358.1 standard was first published in 1981 and then revised in 1990, 1998, 2004 and again in 2009.
Does the ANSI Z 358.1 standard only apply to eyewash stations?
No, the standard also applies to emergency showers and eye/face wash equipment.
FLUSHING & FLOW RATE REQUIREMENTS
What are the flushing requirements for eyewash stations?
A gravity fed portable and plumbed eyewash both require
flushing of 0.4 (GPM) gallons per minute for a full 15 minutes with
valves that activate in 1 second or less and stay open to leave the
hands free. The eyewash heads of the units must be positioned 33” to 45” from
the floor and 6” from the wall. A plumbed unit should provide the
flushing fluid at 30 pounds per square inch (PSI) with an uninterrupted
Are there different flushing requirements for an eye/face wash station?
The difference is that an eye/face wash station requires
flushing of 3 (GPM) gallons per minute for a full 15 minutes as opposed
to .4 (GPM) for an eyewash alone. There should be larger eyewash heads that can
cover both eyes and face or a face spray that can be used when regular
size eye wash heads are installed on the unit. There are also units that have
separate sprays for the eyes and separate sprays for the face. The
location and maintenance of eye/face wash equipment is the same as for
What are the flushing requirements for emergency showers?
Emergency showers that are permanently connected to a
source of potable water in a facility must have a flow rate of 20
(GPM) gallons per minute and 30 (PSI) pounds per square inch of a water
supply that is uninterrupted. The head of the unit should be positioned
82” to 96” from the floor. The valves must activate in 1 second or less
and must stay open to leave the hands free. The valves on these units
should not shut off until they are shut off by the user.
How high should the flushing fluid rise from the head of the eyewash station to safely flush the eyes?
Are there any special requirements for Combination Showers that contain an eyewash and shower component?
The eyewash component and the shower component must each be
individually certified. When the unit is turned on, neither component
can lose water pressure because of the other component being activated
at the same time.
The flushing fluid should rise up 8 inches. A testing
gauge is placed on the eyewash nozzle and measures upward for 8 inches which is
where the flushing fluid should meet the gauge. This is a new testing
requirement according to ANSI/ISEA Z 358.1 2009. A gauge should be used
for the annual inspection.
How fast should the flushing fluid flow out of the heads?
The upward flow should be controlled at a minimum flow rate with low velocity in
order to ensure that a victim's eyes are not further damaged by the
flow of the flushing fluid.
What is the temperature requirement for the flushing fluid in an eyewash station according to ANSI/ISEA Z 358.1 2009?
The water temperature for the flushing fluid must be
tepid. This has been further defined in ANSI/ISEA Z 358.1 2009 to be between 60º and 100ºF. (16º-38º C). Keeping the flushing fluid between these two temperatures
will encourage an injured worker to stay within the guidelines of ANSI Z
358.1 2009 for a full 15 minutes of flushing which will help to prevent further injury to the eye(s) and prevention of the
further absorption of chemicals.
How can the temperature be controlled to remain
between 60º and 100ºF in plumbed emergency eyewash or showers in order
to comply with the revised standard?
If the flushing fluid is determined to not be between 60º and 100º,
thermostatic mixing valves can be installed to ensure a consistent
temperature for the eyewash or shower. There are also turnkey units
available where the hot water can be specifically dedicated to one
particular unit. For large facilities with many eye wash and showers,
there are more complex systems that can be installed to maintain the
temperature between the 60º and 100ºF for all of the units in the
What are the specifications for eyewash stations and eye/face wash stations?
The heads of the units must be positioned 33” to 45” from the floor and 6” from the wall.
What are the specifications for Drench Showers?
Drench Showers spray heads must be positioned
between 82"-96" from the from the floor. The pull rod on the shower
must be no more than 69: from the floor. The spray pattern must be 20"
in diameter at 60" above the floor. The center of this spray must be at
least 16" away from any obstruction.
Where should this emergency equipment be placed in a work area?
They should be located in an area where an injured worker
will not take longer than 10 seconds to reach the unit. They must be in
a well-lit area that is on the same level as the hazard and they should
be identified by a sign.
What are the maintenance requirements for eyewash stations?
It is important to activate and test a plumbed station
weekly to be sure that the unit is working properly and to flush any
build-up from the pipes. Gravity Fed units should be maintained
according to the instructions of the individual manufacturers. In order
to be sure that ANSI Z 358.1 requirements are being met, all stations
should be inspected annually.
Should the maintenance of this emergency equipment be documented?
Maintenance should always be documented. After an
accident or in a general inspection, OSHA might require this
documentation. Maintenance tags are a good way to accomplish this.
How should the heads of the eyewash station be kept clean and free of debris?
There should be protective dust covers on the heads to
keep them free of debris. These protective dust covers should flip off
when the flushing fluid is activated.
DRAINAGE OF FLUSHING FLUID
Where should the flushing fluid drain when an eyewash station is tested on a weekly basis?
A floor drain should be installed that complies with
local, state and federal codes for the fluid disposal. If a drain is
not installed, this could create a secondary hazard by creating a pool
of water that could cause someone to slip or fall.
Where should the flushing fluid drain after someone
has used the eyewash or shower in an emergency situation where the
exposure has been to hazardous materials?
This should be a consideration in the assessment and
installation of the equipment because sometimes after an incident has
occurred, the waste water should not be introduced into a sanitary waste
system because it now contains hazardous materials. The drain piping
from the unit itself or the floor drain would have to either be
connected to the buildings acid waste disposal system or a neutralizing
Is it necessary to train employees in the use of this flushing equipment?
It is imperative that all employees that could be exposed
to a chemical splash from a hazardous material or severe dust be
properly trained in the use of this emergency equipment before an
accident happens. A worker should know beforehand how to operate the
unit so that there is no time lost in preventing an injury.
Can squeeze bottles be used in place of an eyewash station?
Squeeze bottles are considered a secondary eyewash and
a supplement to ANSI compliant eyewash stations and are not ANSI
compliant and should not be used in place of an ANSI compliant unit.
Can a drench hose be used in place of an eyewash station?
Regular drench hoses are only considered supplemental
equipment and they should not be used in place of them. There are some
units that are fed by a drench hose that can be used as a primary
eyewash. One of the criteria to be a primary unit is that that there
should be two heads for flushing both eyes simultaneously. The flushing
fluid should be delivered at a velocity which is low enough so that it
does not injure the eyes and delivers a minimum of 3 (GPM) gallons per
minute with a drench hose. There should be a stay open valve that
should be able to be turned on in a single movement and it must remain
on for 15 minutes without the use of the operator’s hands. The nozzle
should be pointing up while being mounted in a rack or holder or if it
is deck mounted.
For More Information Visit Our Resources page or browse our selection of eyewash stations.
References for these FAQ’s
- "The Importance of Eye Flushing Systems" by Sperian Protection
- The Rules of Emergency Eyewash/Showers Are Changing!
Understanding the New ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2009 Standard, Hosted by ISHN
and Haws Corporation
- ANSI Guide by Guardian Equipment
- ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2009 Standard
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