The standard establishes universal minimum performance and use requirements for emergency eyewash & drench shower equipment used for the treatment of the eyes, face, and/or body of a person who has been exposed to hazardous materials and/or chemicals.

Key requirements include:

Tepid water: Defined as having a range between 16°C – 38°C (60°F – 100°F).

Water Temperature & Tepid Water: Tepid water is crucial, but often overlooked when providing compliant eyewash and drench shower stations.

The ANSI standard specifically mentions the delivery of tepid water and defines it as “A flushing fluid temperature conducive to promoting a minimum 15 minute irrigation period, the suitable temperature range is 16°C – 38°C (60°F – 100°F)”

Medical professionals recommend that tepid water be used to treat chemically injuries to eyes and body tissue because temperatures that exceed 38°C (100°F) can enhance chemical interaction with the eyes and skin.

Additionally, flushing liquid temperatures below 16°C (60°F) can cause hypothermic shock.

The standard further states that while cooler flushing fluids may provide immediate relief after chemical contact, prolonged exposure to cold fluids affect the ability to maintain adequate body temperature and can result in the premature cessation of first aid treatment.

Most facilities located in the UK have outside temperatures that can drop to below 0°C (32°F) during the winter, therefore emergency stations that can be exposed to freezing temperatures need protection, the standards state that “Where the possibility of freezing conditions exists, equipment shall be protected from freezing or freeze-protected equipment shall be installed”. Conversely locations where the ambient water temperature can exceed 37°C (98.6°F) will require anti-scald valves to purge potentially scalding water from the feed lines. This will include outdoor locations that are exposed to direct sunlight, or indoor locations exposed to extremes of temperature created by a manufacturing process.

Simultaneous Operation: Units which combine a drench shower with an eye/eye face wash must be capable of being used simultaneously.

Equipment Location: All emergency stations must be located in areas that are accessible within 10 seconds, roughly 17m (55ft). Best practice is to check the travel time to determine if you have the emergency station located within 10 seconds, keeping in mind that an injured person may require extra time/support to reach the designated station. 

Where highly corrosive chemicals are used, thought should be given to installing the emergency station as close as possible to the potential hazard, but outside the range of overspray/splashes from the incident scene.

Obstructions: Emergency stations must be located on the same level as the hazard and the pathway between them must be clear of any obstruction. If your site has a hazard that is located on a different level to your current emergency station, you will have to install an additional station on the same level as the hazard. Again there must be no obstructions between them. Please note that a door is classed as an obstruction, but if the hazard is non-corrosive, one door is acceptable between the hazard and the emergency station so long as it opens in the direction of travel of the person requiring its use and it is not capable of being locked.

Identification: Eyewash and drench shower stations must be installed in a well-lit area and identified with a highly visible safety signs.

Shut-Off Valves: If shut-off valves are installed on the supply line for maintenance purposes, provisions must be made to prevent an unauthorised shut-off to ensure valves are always open.

Training: All employees who may be exposed to hazardous or corrosive materials must know the locations of, and be instructed in the proper use of the eyewash and/or drench shower equipment on site and in addition site plans showing the exact locations of all emergency stations should be freely available to anyone entering the site.

Maintenance & Testing: Planned maintenance is necessary to ensure that all emergency equipment is functioning safely and correctly. Weekly testing will ensure the supply lines are clear of sediment and bacteria build-up that can occur in stagnant water. The standards state that plumbed equipment, “shall be activated weekly for a period long enough to verify operation and ensure that flushing fluid is available” and portable and self contained equipment “be visually checked to determine if flushing fluid needs to be changed or supplemented”.

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