Product Focus: Eyewashes/showers

Trends in ... eyewashes/showers

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Emergency eyewash/shower systems must work properly every time they are used. To help ensure this, manufacturers are continually finding ways to improve the safety and reliability of equipment. One such improvement is combination eyewash-faucets, in which both products can be used independently or together, according to Imants Stiebris, director of global safety sales for New Castle, DE-based Speakman Co.

Stiebris said the advantage of these products is having a dedicated water supply for the eyewash, which ensures safe water temperature. “The user has a fully functional eyewash, along with an independently operating faucet, all in one product,” Stiebris said. “Because the eyewash is located on a sink, it is easy to find in an emergency.”

Today, a variety of emergency eyewashes/showers are available. For example, when electrical power is available, “many installers are considering electrically operated instantaneous water heaters to control the temperature of the water, which feeds emergency showers and eyewashes,” said Jim Johnson, general manager for Houston-based Encon Safety Products. For workplaces without a plumbed water supply, Mark Conron, president of Sheffield Lake, OH-based FSI North America, recommends safety tank shower systems with their own inherent gravity-fed water tanks. “If weather extremes exist,” he added, “ensure trace heating and/or thermostatically controlled devices are in place with the shower system.”

Workers should be aware of temperature hazards. According to Nicholas Tallos, vice president of engineering for Warminster, PA-based Therm-Omega-Tech Inc., steam is a common danger associated with emergency eyewashes and showers. “Redundant back-up safety devices must be incorporated into such systems to assure ‘fail safe’ operation,” Tallos said. Another hazard is the risk of scalds. “Many instantaneous heaters fail that are built for commercial or residential use,” Johnson said. “They do not include the scalding water detection and reaction features necessary to ensure that no further harm will come to the unfortunate user of the emergency equipment as a result of a malfunctioning tempering device.”

To help prevent these risks, experts unanimously highlighted the importance of regularly testing these systems. “Potential users must have the highest levels of confidence in the safety shower systems so there is no second thought about using them, and the systems must be readily available where needed and in safe working condition,” Tallos said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association