Emergency Fixtures: Address Workplace Risks Before They Turn Into Accidents

portable eyewash stations can be used in the lab or out in the field

It may be a jungle out there, but inside isn’t always a safe haven, either – especially in work settings where chemicals, gases and other hazardous materials pose potential threats to life, limbs, eyes, skin and other body parts. Providing a safe work environment is not only an employer’s moral and regulatory obligation, it can affect a company’s reputation and livelihood.

Unfortunately, accidents may happen. But their effects can be minimized by installing emergency fixtures throughout critical areas where hazardous materials are used and stored.


Emergency Fixtures: A Checklist

Companies should make sure employees are aware of the location of emergency fixtures, are trained in their use and emergency equipment should be tested weekly. If chemicals or other hazardous materials are present in your workplace, be sure to have fixtures such as drench showers or eyewash equipment at or near every location.


The ANSI Z358.1-2009 emergency equipment standard states that fixtures be installed within 10 seconds’ reach of each hazard, or within approximately 55 feet of the hazard. Where strong acids or caustics are used, place the equipment immediately next to where the exposure could occur.


In addition, ANSI mandates that areas containing emergency fixtures be well-lit, and specifies that each fixture has a highly visible sign for quick identification. Selecting fixtures with a safety-yellow coating helps ensure they will be easily located in an emergency.

Water Requirements

Emergency fixtures must have an adequate water supply at an appropriate pressure and temperature:

Water Flow Rate and Velocity

For both drench showers and eyewashes, a minimum water pressure of 30 pounds per square inch (PSI) should be supplied to the unit. It must also satisfy the ANSI minimum flow rate, which is at least 20 gallons per minute (GPM) for drench showers, 0.4 GPM for eyewashes and 3.0 GPM for eye and face washes. Actual flow rates vary by product, so consult with the equipment manufacturer to verify flow rates. Water supply to the unit must be sufficient to support a full 15-minute flow of flushing fluid

Water Temperature

ANSI requires that a 15-minute flow of “tepid” water be supplied to emergency equipment and suggests an incoming water temperature between 60° F and 100° F. Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) blend hot and cold water to a specific set point and are an effective solution for delivering tempered water to emergency fixtures.

Training and Testing

Train everyone on what constitutes an emergency, and whether a drench shower or eyewash unit is most appropriate for a particular situation. Then give each person an opportunity to test the equipment so they feel comfortable activating it.

Test the Equipment Regularly

Strategically placed eye wash stations can help provide a quick relief to help reduce serious injury.

To ensure that your emergency fixtures will work when they’re needed, follow ANSI guidelines for weekly and annual testing.
Strategically placed eye wash stations can help provide a quick relief to help reduce serious injury.

Considerations for Selecting Equipment

Tight Spaces

If space is at a premium, look for emergency fixtures designed for tight areas, such as barrier-free drench shower and eyewash units that are recessed-mounted. Some models feature a recessed shower handle that activates the valve when pushed downward.


If an employee is splashed with a hazardous substance, he or she should quickly disrobe to completely flush all the chemicals or contaminants from their skin. An effective way to address privacy, especially in a mixed-gender environment, is to install curtains around drench showers or combination shower and eyewash units. Grainger offers vinyl laminate privacy curtains in high-visibility yellow that resist chemicals and mildew.

Outdoor Settings

If you’re in the construction business, you often need portable emergency fixtures that can operate outdoors – especially when temperatures plummet or where plumbed water is not available.

Manufacturers offer a variety of portable emergency equipment that can be used as a first response. Workers can get immediate first-aid relief from gravity-fed portable and stainless steel pressurized eyewashes. Each design can provide a 15-minute continuous flush.

Gravity-fed portable eyewashes are easy to fill, assemble and transport when properly secured – and they meet the ANSI Z358.1 standard. Stainless steel portable pressurized fixtures are ideal for industrial environments that require corrosion-resistance and durability. These versatile fixtures also allow for the attachment of a drench hose to rinse small areas of the body.

In conclusion, even the most conscientious companies can experience serious on-the-job injuries. Make sure you’re equipped to respond quickly, with the proper emergency and safety equipment in place, easily visible, and ready to work in seconds.

Related Links:


Information courtesy of Bradley Corporation