The selection of emergency eye wash and shower equipment is often a complicated process. In addition to addressing design and engineering issues, specifiers must be aware of regulatory requirements and compliance standards. A common reference point when specifying emergency equipment is ANSI Z358.1, “Emergency Eye Wash and Shower Equipment.” This standard is a widely accepted guideline for the proper selection, installation and maintenance of emergency equipment.
To assist specifiers in understanding the provisions of this standard, Guardian Equipment has prepared this ANSI Compliance Checklist. In this Checklist, we have summarized and graphically presented the provisions of the standard. This Checklist can serve as a starting point for designing emergency eye wash and shower systems.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was enacted to assure that workers are provided with “safe and healthful working conditions.” Under this law, the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration (OSHA) was created and authorized to adopt safety standards and regulations to fulfill the mandate of improving worker safety.
OSHA has adopted several regulations that refer to the use of emergency eye wash and shower equipment. The primary regulation is contained in 29 CFR 1910.151, which requires that...
“...where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.”
The OSHA regulation regarding emergency equipment is quite vague, in that it does not define what constitutes “suitable facilities” for drenching the eyes or body. In order to provide additional guidance to employers, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has promulgated a voluntary standard covering emergency eye wash and shower equipment. This standard—ANSI Z358.1—is intended to serve as a guideline for the proper design, performance, installation, use and maintenance of emergency equipment.
ANSI Z358.1-2004 contains provisions regarding the design, performance, installation, use and maintenance of various types of emergency equipment (showers, eye washes, drench hoses, etc.). In addition to these provisions, there are some general considerations that apply to all emergency equipment. These considerations may not necessarily be part of the standard, but we believe that they should be addressed when considering emergency equipment. These include the following:
First Aid Devices
Emergency eye wash and shower units are designed to deliver water to rinse contaminants from a user’s eyes, face or body. As such, they are a form of first aid equipment to be used in the event of an accident. However, they are not a substitute for primary protective devices (including eye and face protection and protective clothing) or for safe procedures for handling hazardous materials.
Simply installing emergency equipment is not a sufficient means of assuring worker safety. Employees must be trained in the location of emergency equipment and in its proper use. Emergency equipment must be regularly maintained (including weekly activation of the equipment) to assure that it is in working order and inspected at least annually for compliance with the standard. Most importantly, employers should develop a response plan to be used in the event that an accident does occur. The focus of the response plan should be to provide assistance to the injured worker as quickly as possible. We offer a variety of alarm systems which may be installed in conjunction with our emergency equipment. They serve to alert personnel and summon assistance if an eye wash or shower is activated. WE RECOMMEND INSTALLING AN ALARM UNIT WITH ANY EMERGENCY EYE WASH OR SHOWER UNIT.
Location of Emergency Equipment
In general, the ANSI standard provides that emergency equipment be installed within 10 seconds walking time from the location of a hazard. The equipment must be installed on the same level as the hazard (i.e. accessing the equipment should not require going up or down stairs or ramps). The path of travel from the hazard to the equipment should be free of obstructions and as straight as possible.
However, there are certain circumstances where these guidelines may not be adequate. For example, where workers are handling particularly strong acids, caustics or other materials where the consequences of a spill would be very serious, emergency equipment should be installed immediately adjacent to the hazard.
The 2004 version of the standard states that the water temperature delivered by emergency equipment should be “tepid” (i.e. moderately warm or lukewarm). However, where it is possible that a chemical reaction might be accelerated by warm water, a medical professional should be consulted to determine what the optimum water temperature would be.
Disposal of Water
The standard does not include any provisions regarding the disposal of waste water. However, designers must give consideration to where waste water will go. In particular, care must be taken that waste water not create a hazard (i.e. by creating a pool in which someone might slip) or freeze.
Generally, Guardian eye wash, eye/face wash and safety station units are designed with waste connections for connection to drain piping. We recommend that emergency eye wash and shower units be connected to drain piping. For emergency showers AND FOR OTHER UNITS WITHOUT WASTE CONNECTIONS, floor drains should be provided. After an emergency eye wash or shower has been used, the waste water may contain hazardous materials that cannot or should not be introduced into a sanitary sewer. It may be necessary to connect the drain piping from the emergency equipment or floor drain to the building’s acid waste disposal system or to a neutralizing tank.