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.
***Questions preceded with red asterisks and italics reference the most recently revised ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 2009 Standard
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 purpose.
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.
TYPES OF EYEWASH STATIONS
What types are available for use that are acceptable under the ANSI Z 358.1 standard?
There are two different types that are acceptable under the ANSI Z 358.1 standard. They are PLUMBED STATIONS and GRAVITY FED STATIONS. Plumbed stations are permanently connected to a source of potable water in a facility and gravity fed stations are stand alone units that contain their own flushing fluid that must be replaced after each use.
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 and valves that activate in 1 second or less and stay open to leave the hands free. The 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 water supply
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 large 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 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 eyewash stations.
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.
Why should an eyewash station have a minimum flow rate?
It should have a minimum flow rate in order to ensure that a victim’s eyes are not further damaged by the flow rate of the flushing fluid.
*** How high should the flushing fluid rise from the head of the eyewash station to safely flush the eyes?
The flushing fluid should rise up 8 inches. A testing gauge is placed on the eyewash nozzle and measures upward for 8 inches 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 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 by defining tepid water to be between 60º and 100ºF. (16º-38º C)
What are the benefits of keeping the flushing fluid between these two temperatures?
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 prevent the further absorption of chemicals in the body and help to prevent further injury to the eyes (eyewash station) and/or body (emergency shower).
*** 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?
In order to maintain a consistent temperature, 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 is specifically dedicated to one particular unit. For large facilities with many eyewashes 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 facility.
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 provided with the purchase of the equipment.
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 tank.
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.
ANSI STANDARD INFORMATION ON UPDATING EQUIPMENT TO MEET THE LATEST STANDARD
*** How are combination shower and eyewashes affected by the revised ANSI/ISEA Z 358.1 2009 standard?
The revised standard addresses the use of the two components of the unit both individually and simultaneously, meaning that 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.
*** Does equipment that was purchased prior to the revision of ANSI/ISEA Z 358.1 2009 have to be updated or replaced to meet the requirements of the new standard?
If the equipment does not meet the requirements of the new standard, it should be updated or replaced to meet the new requirements. It will depend on the manufacturer whether or not the unit can be updated to comply with the revised standard.
*** If a unit is not updated or replaced to be in compliance with the new standard, can an employer be cited by OSHA for not being in compliance?
OSHA will reference the most recent standard, so if a unit is not updated or replaced and is not in compliance with the new standard, an employer can be cited by OSHA.
EYEWASH SQUEEZE BOTTLES
Can squeeze bottles be used in place of an eyewash station?
Squeeze bottles are considered as a secondary eyewash and a supplement to ANSI compliant eyewash stations but they 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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