Flushing Out the Facts on the Emergency Eye Wash Station

Employees must be trained on the location and proper use of an emergency eye wash station and/or shower.


eye wash station and shower combo


Recent OSHA statistics show that only 12% of workplaces inspected are in full compliance with the law regarding emergency eye wash stations and showers. 


Every jobsite needs to consider having an eye wash station on hand, whether it’s a portable, personal, plumbed, or faucet. In this article, we will discuss eye face wash best practices and how you can insure eye safety for your employees.  


What can I do to prepare for an eye-related emergency?

Prevention is the key to eye safety. The first line of defense is proper eye/face protection products coupled with equipment guards, emergency controls and manufacturing procedures.

  • Employees must be trained on the location and proper use of all emergency eye wash stations and showers.
  • Emergency eye wash stations and showers must be regularly maintained, including weekly activation of all plumbed units.
  • Emergency eye wash stations and showers must be inspected at least yearly for compliance with the ANSI standard.


Related: If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right eye protection while on the job, check out our guide on choosing the best safety glasses here.


What is the current OSHA standard for emergency eyewash stations and showers?

ANSI Z358.1-2014 is the most current ANSI standard and is required by OSHA for all new additions to an emergency wash program. OSHA references the ANSI standard during site inspections and violation reporting.


Key points of the ANSI standard include:

  • Emergency eye wash stations and showers should be designed, manufactured and installed in such a manner that, once activated, they can be used without requiring the use of the operator’s hands.
  • The valve must easily activate in a second or less and remain open on its own until it is intentionally turned off and must be resistant to corrosion.
  • All eye wash stations must be capable of delivering a minimum of 15 minutes of flushing fluid and flow at the minimum gallon per minute requirement.
  • Plumbed eye wash stations should be activated weekly to ensure proper flow. The duration should be long enough to clear stagnant water from any dead leg length of piping.
  • Self-contained eye wash stations must be visually checked weekly to determine if flushing fluid needs to be changed or supplemented. Such inspection should be conducted in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Change the water as required and use a bacteria-fighting additive.
  • Eye wash stations must be placed within 55' of work stations or take no more than 10 seconds to reach. The path to the fixture must not be hindered with obstructions.
  • Emergency eye wash stations and showers stations must be installed in well-lit areas and identified with a highly visible safety sign.
  • The temperature range for water delivered to all eye wash stations and shower units must be between 60 - 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature around 85 degrees Fahrenheit offers the most comfort to the user.
  • An eye/face and shower wash combination unit should deliver an adequate simultaneous flushing stream for both the shower and eyewash when activated and should flow at a minimum of 20 gallons per minute.


Related: There is also an ANSI standard for protecting your eyes from debris. Read our full article on ANSI eye protection and about some of our recommended ANSI-approved safety glasses now.


What are the categories of emergency eye wash stations available at Wesco?

Personal Eye Washes

  • These are bottles of eyewash that range in size from 1-32 ounces.
  • They are designed to supplement (not replace) a permanent eye wash station.
  • Use them as a first response measure during transit to ANSI-compliant eyewash station.
  • They are not ANSI or OSHA compliant.


Portable Gravity-Fed Eye Wash Stations

  • These standalone units contain a flushing fluid that must be refilled or replaced after use.
  • Some stations come with a bag or cartridge of manufacturer-prepared solution that will last two years. This is the preferred method from both a cost-savings and hygiene standpoint.
  • Other stations are filled with tap water and then an additive/preservative that is added every 2-6 months. If a preservative is not used, the tap water must be changed weekly to prevent bacteria build-up.


Plumbed Eye Wash Stations

  • Plumbed eyewash stations are permanently connected to a continual water source that delivers plumbed tap water to the eyes.
  • The advantage of a plumbed eye wash station is that you never need to change the flushing fluid.
  • These units require weekly activation as part of routine maintenance to prevent bacteria build-up.


Faucet Mount Eye Wash Stations

  • These units feature an adaptor that simply screws on to most standard faucets.
  • It transforms your standard sink faucet into an emergency eye wash station.


Emergency Showers

  • Emergency showers are required when there is the possibility of a corrosive to be deluged on your body, as opposed to a minor splash.


Feel free to contact our Safety Support Team to help you select the correct emergency eye wash station and/or shower for your particular workplace. We can offer you options that best fit your budget or specific needs, allowing your employees to work safely and efficiently.



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