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    Choosing the correct emergency eyewash equipment

    November 1, 2010

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    How do I know what is the right emergency equipment for our facility?

    Answered by Casey Hayes, director of engineered solutions, Haws Corp., Sparks, NV.

    Different people espouse different answers to this complex question. To start, specifiers should clearly recognize that you get what you pay for in this category of products. While higher-quality materials, advanced features and superior engineering can command a higher price, they usually provide better response characteristics and greater durability. So, what do you need to look for? Take a look at the specification puzzle in steps:

    Facility planning and design: ANSI Z358.1 says facilities must be available to adequately treat the maximum number of potential casualties possible in a given situation, recognizing the hazards, environment and number of people that could potentially be exposed.

    • A safety station should be accessible within 10 seconds of the hazard.
    • Safety stations should be on the same level as the hazard, and the path of travel should be free of obstructions.
    • Emergency equipment must deliver tepid flushing fluid.

    Product requirements: Requirements are established for the emergency showers and combination showers and eyewashes. Often, these requirements are met by newer equipment, while older installations predate the establishment of the specific requirement. In those circumstances, equipment should be updated. Product requirements for emergency showers include:

    • The showerhead must be 82-96 inches above the surface floor of the user.
    • The shower must deliver a minimum of 20 gallons per minute of flushing fluid and provide a column 20 inches wide at 60 inches above the surface floor of the user.
    • The actuation valve should be designed so the flushing fluid flow remains on without the use of the operator's hands. The valve should be simple to operate and go from "off" to "on" in one second or less.
    • Where drench hose facilities are added to basic shower assemblies, those hoses must deliver a controlled flow of flushing fluid at a velocity low enough to be non-injurious.

    With respect to eyewashes and eye/face washes, the following requirements are established:

    • They must provide a means of controlled flow to both eyes simultaneously.
    • Eye/face wash equipment must deliver a minimum of 3 gallons per minute of flushing fluid for 15 minutes.
    • Eyewash-only equipment must deliver a minimum of 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes.
    • Outlets should be protected from airborne contaminants.
    • Eye/face wash outlets must be between 33 and 45 inches from the floor and 6 inches from the wall.
    • The actuation valve should be designed so the flushing fluid flow remains on without the use of the operator's hands. The valve shall be simple to operate and go from "off" to "on" in one second or less.

    Combination units carry the following additional requirement:

    • Combination unit components should be able to operate simultaneously and should be positioned so components may be used simultaneously by the same user.

    Specifiers are encouraged to become familiar with all of the subtleties of ANSI Z358.1. That way, companies can seek out the equipment that best suits specific needs, while also addressing the letter of the law.

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