Seconds count when the eyes and skin are exposed to corrosive or caustic liquids or other hazardous materials.

Emergency showers and eyewash units must be accessible.

Obstacles in the travel path can delay response time.

According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) emergency eyewashes and showers must be:

• Located in an area that requires no more than 10 seconds to reach or within 55 feet of the hazard.

• Located in a well-lit area and identified with a sign.

• Located on the same level as the hazard.

• Equipped with enough tepid water for 15 minutes of continuous use.

If shut off valves are installed in the unit’s supply line for maintenance purposes, provisions must be made to prevent unauthorized shut-off.

It is also important to inspect and test emergency eyewash and shower units on a routine basis.

Without regular maintenance, inspection, and testing, the water required to flush a worker’s body or eyes could become contaminated with particulates or chemicals or fail to function all together.

When inspecting emergency eyewash and shower units:

• Make sure the unit is accessible and not blocked by pallets, boxes, or other materials and equipment.

• Make sure the unit’s sign is visible.

• Activate the unit to ensure that the water source is turned on, water flow is adequate, and the water is clear. Nozzles on eyewash units might need to be cleaned from time to time. The water flow should stay on until turned off.

• The water should be “tepid.” Tepid is considered a temperature between 60- and 100-degrees F (16-38 degrees C). Temperatures hotter than 100 degrees F can enhance chemical interaction with the skin and the eyes.

If the unit does not pass inspection, notify your supervisor immediately so that repairs can be made in a timely manner.

Source: Joe Mlynek, president and safety and loss control consultant for Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH; 216-403-9669; and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple, Olathe, KS.