How confident are you that your safety eyewash stations are compliant with OSHA eyewash requirements and ANSI standards? Consider these five commonly believed eyewash station myths.
Myth: “An eyewash flushing bottle counts as an OSHA-compliant eyewash.”
Incorrect. According to the ANSI/ISEA American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment (ANSI Z358.1-2014), 16-ounce and 32-ounce bottles are considered personal eyewashes. Personal eyewash units provide immediate flushing and can be used as the employee is making his or her way to a compliant emergency flushing station. A compliant eyewash station must be able to flush both eyes simultaneously for 15 continuous minutes, with a minimum flow rate of 0.4 gallons per minute (gpm).
Myth: “There are no specific guidelines for water temperature for an emergency eyewash or shower.”
Incorrect. Guidelines in ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 specify delivering tepid flushing fluid. Tepid is defined as a flushing fluid temperature conducive to promoting a minimum 15-minute irrigation period and a suitable range is 60º to 100º F. Water temperatures below 60º F can cause hypothermia and may prematurely stop the emergency first aid treatment. Temperatures above 100º F can accelerate a chemical reaction with skin and eyes. Thermostatic mixing valves blend hot and cold water for a comfortable water temperature, which helps ensure workers flush for the required 15 minutes.
Myth: “All gravity-fed eyewashes that meet the minimum 0.4 gpm flow rate are ANSI compliant.”
Incorrect. Gravity-fed eyewashes that meet the minimum 0.4 gpm flow rate must also meet the requirement of 15 continuous minutes of uninterrupted flow.
Myth: “Personal eyewash bottles have an indefinite shelf life as long as the seal remains unbroken.”
Incorrect. Personal eyewash bottles are factory sealed. The shelf life for most personal eyewash bottles can be between two and three years from the date of manufacture. The expiration date will normally be printed on the bottle for easy identification.
Myth: “Emergency eyewash and emergency eye/face wash are synonymous terms.”
Incorrect. Emergency eyewash and emergency eye/face wash have two different definitions under the ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 standard based on the rate of flow. The minimum flow requirement for eyewash is 0.4 gpm compared to the minimum flow rate of 3.0 gpm for an eye/face wash. Emergency eyewash is suggested in a work environment where particulate hazards exist. In a work environment where chemical hazards are a concern, an emergency eye/face wash is suggested, because chemicals can be hazardous to both skin and eyes.