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Properly train employees to use eyewash and shower systems

One of the most important senses that we have is our ability to see. Each year, about 2,000 workers have job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. Protecting the eyes from injury while working on an industrial or construction job site from caustic and corrosive fluids is an important aspect to working safely.

While safety glasses can help prevent caustic and corrosive fluids from coming into contact with workers’ eyes, OSHA has required places where workers are potentially exposed to these types of fluids to have emergency eye wash and shower stations provided within the work area for immediate emergency use since 1970.

The American National Standards Institute defined eyewash and shower equipment guidelines (ANSI Z358.1-2014) to help protect workers from eye injuries from caustic and corrosive substances, which include eyewash stations and showers that have a minimum water flow for a specific time period.

The standard defines two acceptable types of eyewash stations–plumbed permanent eyewash stations and self-contained gravity fed portable shower and eyewash stations. The water temperature for the stations must be tepid, or between 60 to 100 degrees, as these are the optimum temperatures for workers that are exposed to corrosive and caustic substances to remain at the station a minimum of 15 minutes to flush the material out of their eyes.

Eyewash stations must also be located within a 10-second walk of the work area, which is about 55 feet. The path between the work area and the station must also be free of obstructions. If strong caustics or corrosives are being handled in the workplace, the eyewash station should be located adjacent to the hazardous area. Also, the ANSI standard recommends that portable eyewash stations use a preserved, buffered pH-balanced saline solution instead of plain tap water because tap water can cause painful damage. Tap water units also require weekly maintenance to remove contaminants, such as mildew and sediment buildup.

Employees should be properly trained to use the eyewash and shower systems, as well as to assist other employees to the wash station, and to yell for help when exposed to chemicals.

Neff Rental has eye wash and shower stations at all of its branches coast to coast. It is important for our employees to not only work safe, but also have immediate access to first aid, including eye wash stations and showers, should they become injured. For more information about Neff Rental, visit , or call 888-709-NEFF.

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