How To Choose An Eyewash Station For your Facility

 How To Choose An Eyewash Station For Your Facility

How to choose an eyewash station for your facility should be thought about with serious consideration.  Facility design, number of employees, the hazards you may experience, and the ANSI Z-358.1 Guidelines you need to conform with, all need to be considered when selecting your eyewash.  The following information is just to give an oversight on the type of eyewash stations offered in the marketplace today.

Let's Start With the Two Basic Types of Eyewash Stations

Portable Eyewash Stations
Portable eye wash stations can be installed where plumbing is not available and they can be moved around a work area depending on the need in your facility.  There is flexibility with this type of eyewash.  Portable units don’t require the use of the plumbing in the facility.  They are self- contained units.  They are able to flush the eyes only.  They do not have the capability to flush the yes and face simultaneously as a plumbed eyewash station.

Plumbed Eyewash Stations
Plumbed eye wash stations can be permanently set up in a work area using your facility’s own plumbing.  This type allows a constant flow of water to the units.  Most plumbed eyewashes are eye/face washes to flush the yes and face.  They have the water pressure and water volume to perform this task,  Portable units have a finite amount of water so they cannot flow at the volume levels of a plumbed unit.

Thinking About a Portable Eyewash Station?

Portable Eyewashes Offer Various Choices to Fit Your Facilities Needs

  • Portable stations are versatile and can be placed near the hazards in your facility
  • They can be wall-mounted, rolled around on a cart or placed on a shelf
  • Portable stations are compact in size and can be moved around to different hazardous areas within a building where the need arises. 
  • They require only visual inspection but require change of flushing fluid every few months
  • They are less expensive than plumbed units as they need no plumbing
  • They are a great alternative also as the flushing fluid temperature becomes the temperature of the room they reside in as long as the room is between 60 and 100 degrees fahrenheit
  • Portable self-contained units can be mounted in tight spaces
  • Can be moved to a new location easily if a facility is remodeled or the work space is moved to another location
  • There are also pressurized tank units that are mobile enough to be used in a variety of work spaces and remote areas

There are Two Ways that the Flushing Fluid can be Delivered in a Portable Eyewash Station

  • Potable Water Treated with a Preservative (Bacteriostatic Solution)
    • The solution is added to potable water to keep it free from bacteria
    • The flushing fluid should be changed every three to six months (depending on manufacturer) to ensure clean and safe flushing of the eyes
    • The portable unit must be emptied, cleaned with mild soap and water and refilled depending upon the maintenance schedule
    • A new bottle of bacteriostatic solution must be added with each refill
  • Sealed Eyewash Cartridges
    • A manufacturers’ sealed cartridge which contains the flushing fluid is installed in specially designed eyewash station
    • The cartridges have a shelf life up to 24 months from date of manufacture without needing to be changed
    • There is a higher cost up-front with this type of unit but it is virtually maintenance-free for the life of the cartridge and cost of ownership in the 2 year period is less than standard portable stations
    • Simply replace the cartridge when it expires or after it is used

Mounting Considerations for Portable Units

Portable stations come in many shapes, styles and sizes. (Consider height, width and depth).  Measure the dimensions of the wall and depth of the area where the unit will be placed.  It needs to be mounted onto the beams of the wall.  So take into consideration where the beams are located, not just the space you are looking at.  It cannot be mounted onto sheetrock only.  The bracket has to be screwed into a beam or drilled into cement.  The eyewash station is very heavy once water is installed.  Each gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs.  Multiplied by the smallest 9 gallon eyewash the water itself weighs 75.06 lbs. plus the weight of the eyewash station.  16 gallons would be 133.44 lbs. plus the weight of the station. 


Most of the portable units are made from High Density Polyethylene which is usually bright green or yellow.  It is a lightweight and durable material that will give you years of service.

Thinking About a Plumbed Eyewash Station?

Plumbed Eyewash Stations Become a Permanent Fixture in Your Facility

They are installed using the current plumbing in the building.  Plumbing may have to be run to the eyewash as quote often the desired location may not match up with where the workers may be operating.  REMEMBER: the eyewash needs to be installed within 10 seconds walking distance of the threat.  So piping may have to be installed.  Both hot and cold lines are needed along with a thermostatic mixing valve to keep the flushing fluid between the temperatures of 60 degrees fahrenheit and 100 degrees fahrenheit.  this type of eyewash should flushed and cleaned on a two week interval to avoid build up of contaminants in the pipes. 

Stay Open Valves

These plumbed units must have a stay open valve that cannot be shut off unless it is shut off manually according to the ANSI standards.  the eyewash station needs to stay running for 15 minutes minimum and the only way for an eyewash can do that without assistance using your hands, would be to have a stay open valve to keep the flow going.

Eyewash Bowl Material

Plumbed units can be purchased with plastic or stainless steel bowls.  Plastic bowl eyewash stations make the eyewash less expensive a less expensive option.  Stainless bowls increase the cost of the eyewash station but are more durable.  Stainless can dent if struck by a forklift or other machines but would still be able to be used.  Plastic would crack if struck and would have to be replaced as a cracked bowl would leak.  

Eyewash Station Mounting

Eyewash stations can be wall mounted, can be free standing on a pedestal, function as a faucet and eyewash combination, mounted on a sink countertop or mounted directly to the existing faucet.

  • Wall Mounted Eyewash Station
    Most plumbed eyewash stations are mounted on the wall and have a eyewash bowl with a drain.  There are also lab eyewashes that can be recessed into the wall and drench hose type with dual eyewash heads and have a long hose that can be hung on the wall with a hook type bracket and removed from the wall when in use. Take into consideration the height of the eyewash heads as they would also need to be installed according to ANSI Z-358.1. Plumbed bowl units come with a heavy-duty bracket that can be screwed into a wall easily.  
  • Pedestal Mounted Eyewash Station
    When there is no space on a wall or when plumbing is only accessible away from a wall or fed through a floor or when a drain is only accessible away for a wall, a pedestal unit may be necessary.  More importantly, if a worker or group of workers and/or the possible threat or danger ion the middle of a facility, a pedestal unit would have to be installed at that location.  If that is not plausible, then a portable self-contained eyewash station may be the solution.  When making these decisions, always consider whether the flushing fluid will be sustained between 60 and 100 degrees F. 
  • Faucet Mounted, Faucet/Eyewash Combination or Counter Mounted Eyewash Station
    There are different options when it comes to eyewash stations being installed using the plumbing that is already in existence at a sink.  A positive thing  is that most sinks already have both hot and cold water running to them.  The key is how you channel the water to the station, at the correct temperature and that the eyewash can operate within one second with only one motion to activate.  This group of eyewashes are ideal for medical offices and laboratories.

    • Faucet Mounted Eyewash Station
      A faucet mounted eyewash is the least expensive way to have an eyewash at your facility but as long as the other components of compliance exists.  Water temp needs to be within the guidelines as mentioned above, accessibility from where the threat is; that there are no doorways or obstruction to accessing the eyewash and that it operates with one push or pull.

      The faucet mounted eyewash simply screws onto the tip of the existing faucet.  It simply uses the same water feed (lines) being driven to the faucet.  Furthermore, the sink faucet should always be in the "on" position so that when the button on the eyewash is activated, the water flows instantly.  There should also be an eliminator valve at the tip of the faucet eyewash for when you require normal operation of the sink.  It is not recommended to purchase  a faucet mounted eyewash station without the eliminator valve as an injured person with impaired vision should not have to turn on the faucet and then have to activate the eyewash.

      Remember that every second that goes by without flushing the eye of contaminants is vital.  Also, the eliminator valve should be always in the "off" position so that the eyewash is ready to use at a moment's notice.   In addition, if the sink is needed other than for the eyewash, simply push the plunger of the eliminator valve and  water will flow through the faucet bypassing the eyewash.  After using the sink, simply push the eliminator valve in the opposite direction and the water will stop flowing.  The eyewash is now once again ready if an eye emergency occurs.

      One caveat to think about with this type of this economical alternative is the water temperature.  The hot and cold handles or single handle for the hot and cold water need to be in the proper adjustment for when the person activates the eyewash.  Generally there is no thermostatic mixing valve installed for this type of eyewash as a thermostatic mixing valve is installed prior to the water being blended together in the faucet neck.

      So as long as the eliminator valve is installed and used properly, the eyewash is ready to use.  Simple push or pull the activation button and water will flow through the faucet mounted eyewash.  Only one motion that takes a second or less should be the rule of thumb with the faucet mounted eyewash station as with any other type of eyewash.  It does require more of a watchful eye (no pun intended), but does work in certain applications where a portable or other plumbed eyewash is not feasible.

    • Faucet/Eyewash Combination
      A Faucet/Eyewash Combination is a more complete option and conforms with the ANSI guidelines with ease.  It is a more expensive option because it actually is a complete faucet with an eyewash station built in.  It also allows meeting the ANSI guideline for flushing fluid temperature much easier and accurate.  With this installation, the water feed is separate for the faucet from the eyewash.  There is a hot and cold line for each of them.  So you would attach a hot to the hot side of the faucet and the cold to the cold side so it would run the same as any stand-alone faucet.  For the eyewash part there would be separate hot and cold lines running to the eyewash.  Activation is totally separate from the faucet as they both operate independently.

      To make the eyewash water temperature between 60 and 100 degrees, a thermostatic mixing valve would need to accompany the eyewash and would be attached right where the hot and cold are combined.  It has a valve in it to blend both incoming hot and cold water into one stream at the correct temperature and deliver it through the faucet head.  You can purchase the mixing valve separately from the eyewash or purchase it together which the latter would ensure the best compatibility and cost.

      This option makes it simple to be compliant from a temperature standpoint and from a functional standpoint because of the separation of the faucet and eyewash in one unit.

    • Counter Mounted Eyewash
      Counter Mounted Eyewashes are installed separately for the faucet.  A separate water line would need be attached to the hot and cold inlets of the eyewash with a thermostatic mixing valve in between to insure temperature compliance.  They can be installed on the back deck of the countertop, on the back wall, or to the left or right side of the sink with simple activation of the eyewash by pulling down on the unit or are offered in swing type units.  Some are made with a left or right hand option.

Heated Eyewash Stations

Probably the most neglected portion of ANSI Z358.1 is flushing fluid temperature compliance.  Even if all other aspects of ANSI Z358.1 are met, without the eyewash flushing fluid temperature being between 60 degrees and 100 degrees fahrenheit, compliance has not been met.  One of the main reasons this aspect of the standard is thought of last is because the cost is a bit more up front.  But this cost would be small next to the OSHA fines that may be levied or even worse the implications of an employee sustaining an eye injury.

Since the onset of Z358.1, flushing time has been a major part of the standard.  It is a well-known portion of the standard.  Flushing time of 15 minutes has been the recommended time for flushing the eyes for many years.  The larger challenge has been to keep an injured person flushing for a full 15 minutes.  It can be already uncomfortable leaning over the eyewash with both of your thumbs and index fingers holding your eyes open for 15 minutes.  But if the water temperature is less than 60 or more than 100 degrees, the injured person more than likely will not flush for the recommended time.  Under many circumstances that could be injurious to one's eyesight.  That is why there are heated eyewash stations and why OSHA enforces this part of the standard which encompasses both a plumbed eyewash with a thermostatic mixing valve and a portable (self contained) eyewash station with a heating element built inside it or a heated jacket surrounding the unit.