Product Focus: Eyewashes/showers

Trends in ... emergency eyewashes/showers

Time is of the essence

Quick access to an emergency eyewash/shower station is vital in the event of an incident. “The first 10 to 15 seconds after exposure to a hazardous substance, especially a corrosive substance, are critical,” the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety states. CCOHS goes on to note that delaying treatment, even for just a few seconds, may result in serious injury to a worker. Below, industry insiders discuss common mistakes regarding emergency eyewashes/showers, and what’s new in the field.

How mistakes happen

Water temperature issues and lack of testing are common mistakes that occur with emergency eyewashes/showers. “ANSI Z358.1-2014 requires the use of tepid flushing fluid for all types of emergency equipment applications,” said Ryan Pfund, senior product manager at Menomonee Falls, WI-based Bradley Corp. However, Pfund points out that ensuring tepid water is available is serious business. “Some incorrectly expect that cold water will be sufficient for eyewash or drench shower fixtures, but the flushing fluid needs to be delivered at a comfortable, lukewarm temperature that is not harmful to the user,” he said. “If the water is too cold – or too hot – the user is much less likely to withstand the full 15-minute flush.”

Casey Hayes, director of integrated sales and operations for Sparks, NV-based Haws Corp., also spoke of issues with not flushing for the full 15-minute period. “This is attributed to either product deficiency or improper training,” Hayes said. “Weekly and yearly testing will mitigate against product issues, but it’s important to frequently train and re-train team members.”


Comfort is, not surprisingly, a driving force when it comes to product advancements. “Eyewash and safety showers are transitioning to focus on victim comfort and ease of use as the primary features,” Hayes said. “This includes smooth water flows for comfortable water pressure, internal flow control to match ANSI Z358.1 flow and velocity requirements, and a reasonable water temperature to encourage a full 15-minute flush.”

Flow control also has been improved recently, Pfund said. “The new emergency shower designs incorporate fluid dynamics technology and work in tandem with a pressure-regulated flow control. This directs the flow of water to achieve a uniform and all-inclusive spray pattern that quickly washes contaminants from the user’s eyes, face or body,” he said.

So what’s the most important thing workers should know concerning emergency eyewashes and showers? According to Hayes, it’s the ability for workers to know how to operate emergency equipment. “If a victim cannot properly use the equipment for the required time there is a potential for increase of injury and associated liabilities,” he said.

Coming next month … 
Education and training

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association