Chapter 14: Eyewash Fountains and Safety Showers

Availability of Eyewashes and Safety Showers

All laboratories and chemical storage areas must have ready access to an operating eyewash, with a safety shower generally required as well. Recommended maximum travel time for an affected individual (assume eyes have been splashed with chemical) is 10 seconds (considered to be approximately 55 feet). Contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer for a determination on the necessity and placement of eyewashes and showers.

Access to Eyewashes and Safety Showers

In the event of a personal contamination, prompt flushing of the affected area is necessary to minimize harm to the affected person. Keep the eyewash/safety shower area free of obstructions, and easily accessible.

Maintenance of Eyewashes and Showers

Individual users (departments or laboratories) should flush eyewashes on a weekly basis to verify performance and to reduce the threat of microbial infection (an operating time of three to five minutes is recommended).

Eye washes and safety showers are checked by EH&S personnel on approximately a monthly basis, with the exception of units located in areas with special access requirements (e.g., BSL-3 laboratories). Laboratory users are responsible for conducting performance checks of units in these locations.

Personal Eyewashes

In some instances it may be prudent to supplement plumbed eyewashes with personal eyewashes (individual plastic water bottles); however, personal eyewashes are not meant to replace plumbed units. Personal eyewashes are to be used only to provide immediate flushing. Once this is accomplished, the affected individual must then perform a thorough flushing of the eyes using a plumbed unit (15 minutes is recommended).

Non-plumbed eye wash units, to include personal eyewash units and portable eye wash units, must be maintained and discarded according to the manufacturer’s instructions and expiration date.