Emergency Eye Wash Stations | The Importance of Eye Wash Stations

Author: Brett Gordon   Date Posted:20 August 2018 

More often than you would think, workers and employees on the job site will get foreign particles, or even worse, chemicals in their eyes, and they will need an emergency cleanup before it gets worse. The number one thing to remember when someone gets something in their eyes on the job site is that time is essential! Hopefully, there is an emergency eye wash station earby so that the first steps of first aid treatment can be administered right away. If not, then the odds of permanent damage to the eyes increases significantly. Every job site should have plenty of eye wash stations available. The difference between having them and not having them can mean the difference between vision and blindness for whoever is needing one at the time. Don’t neglect eye wash stations! You may think they’re not that important, but you will quickly realize how wrong you are when an eye emergency strikes.

If someone gets foreign particles or chemicals in their eyes, then an emergency eye wash station or deluge shower is the first step of first aid treatment. If it is an actual chemical burn to the eye, then your emergency will be much more urgent. You will want to immediately use an eye wash station or deluge shower if:

  • The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) identifies the chemical being used is toxic, caustic, or corrosive. 
  • The MSDS indicates that serious eye injuries will result if the condition is not treated immediately.
  • Container labels have warnings such as “Causes Chemical Burns” or “Causes Permanent Eye Damage”.

Along with this, eye wash station and deluge showers must contain the following:

  • Pure, clean water. 
  • The ability to operate them without hands.
  • Constant water flow for a period of 15 minutes.
  • Unobstructed access.
  • Highly visible signs and markings.

Remember, the single most important thing to do once someone has chemically burned eyes is to thoroughly and intensively clean them out within seconds of the injury occurring. You cannot waste time! This means that the person who suffered the eye injury should not have to navigate around or climb over objects on their way to the eye wash station. This wastes precious time. Ensure that there are no barriers of any shape or form blocking or impeding one’s path to the station. This can mean the difference between saving one’s vision and permanent blindness.

As for the eye wash stations and deluge showers themselves, they should be inspected on a regular basis. Deluge showers should have all functions working properly and have an adequate rate of water flow. They also need to be clean and sanitary. When water is not accessible to a particular area, or there is not enough water plumbed in to an area to provide enough water flow for a deluge shower, then portable emergency eye wash stations need to be made available. These units must have an anti-bacterial additive to maintain the appropriate water sanitation. Remember that it is better to flush out infected eyes with any type of water than nothing at all, although purified water will reduce the possibility of a secondary eye infection.

Another important thing to remember, although this should be obvious, is the fact that all employees who will be exposed to possible chemical splashes or foreign particles flying into their eyes must be properly trained beforehand on how to use an eye wash station or deluge shower. Training should cover:

  • What to do immediately after the incident. This includes flooding the eye with water or an eye wash solution while using fingers to keep the eyes as wide open as possible. It is absolutely vital to clean out the eyes intensively and thoroughly. 
  • Rolling the eyes around as much possible. This will help to remove any foreign particles still underneath the eyelids. DO NOT use anything except water to remove anything from eyes.
  • After thoroughly and intensively cleansing the eyes out for at least 15 minutes, the victim needs to be taken to the nearest hospital immediately. The eyes should continue to be cleaned out while being transported. Portable eye wash stations can be used for this.

Emergency eye wash stations can be one of the most important things you implement on a job site. They are easy to forget about, and a lot of times workers don’t necessarily consider them that important. However, once an emergency strikes and someone has damaging materials or substances in their eyes, eye wash stations become the most important part of the entire job site and the affected individual’s vision. Don’t neglect eye safety on the job site by simply refusing to implement emergency eye wash stations! Make sure you have properly working stations at strategic locations throughout the job site and you, and your workers, will be much better off for it.

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