Where OSHA gets vague about emergency eyewash stations, ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 guidelines take over.

Eyewash Station Service: What You Should Know About OSHA and ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 Guidelines

The Workplace Today Regulation

A properly serviced eyewash station can be helpful in minimizing the effects of a corrosive or other hazardous material making contact with the eyes.

A properly serviced eyewash station can be helpful in minimizing the effects of a corrosive or other hazardous material making contact with the eyes. While OSHA doesn’t prescribe how to maintain or service eyewash stations, the agency does require employers to follow manufacturer’s instructions and makes reference to ANSI/ISEA Z358.1. Manufacturers generally reference ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, “American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment,” which details emergency shower and eyewash requirements relative to location, function and maintenance.

Providing emergency eyewash stations isn’t enough to comply with OSHA requirements under 29 CFR 1910.151(c). Your company should also document the inspection, testing and monitoring of the unit’s readiness and overall performance in accordance with consensus standard ANSI/ISEA Z358.1. Proper servicing of eyewash stations can also be important to preventing the introduction of infections such as those caused by the Acanthamoeba, Pseudomonas and Legionella organisms, OSHA warns.

What Are the Major Requirements?

The following is a brief summary of ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 and the eyewash station service requirements. This should not replace the advice of a certified safety professional.

  • You should activate emergency eyewash stations weekly to validate proper operation and have an annual inspection conducted. These two requirements can be easily overlooked by employers but are closely monitored by OSHA.
  • Emergency eyewash stations should use “tepid water.” ANSI defines tempered (tepid) water as, “A flushing fluid temperature conducive to promoting a minimum 15-minute irrigation period. A suitable range is 16 to 38 degrees Celsius or 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.” The flushing fluid can be potable water, preserved water, preserved buffered saline solution or any other medically acceptable solution.
  • The station should be accessible within 10 seconds of the hazard. ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 equates this distance to be an employee travel distance of no more than 16.8 meters (55 feet).
  • The station should be located 33 to 53 inches from the floor and the travel path should be clear of any obstructions.
  • Emergency equipment should be lit well and identified with a visible sign.
  • Any employee subject to exposure requiring an eyewash station should be instructed on its location and proper use.
  • The station should provide a means of controlling flow to both eyes simultaneously at a velocity low enough to prevent injury.
  • Eyewash-only stations should deliver a minimum of 1.5 liters (0.4 gallon) of water per minute for a minimum of 15 minutes, be supplied with a minimum water capacity pressure of 207 kPa (30 psi) and resist corrosion in the presence of the flushing fluid.
  • Station outlets should be protected from airborne contaminants. The covers should be on when not in use.
  • The flushing fluid should cover the areas between the interior and exterior lines of a gauge at some point less than 20.3 centimeters (eight inches) above the eyewash nozzle.
  • Flushing fluid flow pattern should be between 83.8 and 134.6 centimeters (33 to 53 inches) from the surface floor of the user and a minimum of 15.3 centimeters (six inches) from the wall.
  • The station should be designed so that the flushing flow remains on without the use of the operator’s hands. The valve mechanism should be simple to operate and go from “off” to “on” in one second or less.
  • If the station is plumbed, it should be connected to a potable water supply line. If a shutoff valve to the supply line is installed for maintenance purposes, a provision should be made to prevent the unauthorized closure of this valve.
  • The station should be protected from freezing.

ANSI suggests that personal protective equipment (PPE) doesn’t take the place of an eyewash station. These stations are there to treat exposures in addition to PPE.

When it comes to installation, service and maintenance of eyewash stations, OSHA doesn’t define the term, “suitable facilities.” This is where ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 fills the gap. Adopting ANSI standard’s requirements could help manage risk for your company and your trained employees.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr.
J.A. Rodriguez Jr.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CSP, is the CEO of Make My Day Strategies LLC and a global Fortune 100 senior manager. Rodriguez was honored to be selected by EHS Today Magazine as one of "The 50 People Who Most Influenced environmental, health and safety in 2012-2013" and "2014 - 2015."