Developing operating procedures for your safety shower and eyewash

Mar 19, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Purchasing and installing any emergency equipment is only one step in the safety process. You also need to follow up with clear and practical operating procedures  — ie, policies that your workers will accept and follow. This blog will help you decide on the content to include and offers some suggestions about how to implement them. Effective operating procedures contribute to work health and safety while maximising your investment in quality emergency equipment.

What to put in your operating procedures

In the paragraphs below we are listing some of the essential content to include in your operating procedures, but remember to make them easy to read, simple to follow and a logical part of the daily work flow.


IMPORTANT: Aim to program the weekly inspection at a time when people are more motivated to do it eg, would you required the line supervisors (who work 7 days straight) to carry out inspections on the first day of their shift, or the last day of their shift?

  1. Mandatory inspections and testing 

    It is a requirement of Australian Standard AS4775-2007 - Emergency eyewash and shower equipment that plumbed emergency showers and eyewash units are inspected, activated and tested every week. Your operating procedures should contain:

    • Weekly inspection checklist including the names and signature of workers/supervisors.

    • Actual workflow of weekly inspection (eg, check area for obstructions, check visibility and lighting, activate unit, let water flow for XXX minutes, monitor water pressure, inspect pipework and shower heads etc).

    • Actions to take if shower/eyewash units are damaged or not working (eg, reporting/repairs).

    • Job roles/individuals responsible for inspections.

     IMPORTANT: AS4775-2007 also requires all shower and eyewash units to be inspected, tested and tagged for compliance at least once a year. This should also be included in the operating procedures.

  2. Housekeeping and general care 

    Your operating procedures should have strict housekeeping policies which are properly monitored and enforced. They should include as a minimum:

    • Keeping work areas clean and free of obstructions and debris.

    • Ensuring safety showers and eyewash stations are not misused in anyway.

    • Reporting damage or contamination to managers or supervisors.

    • Not bringing hazardous materials into work areas without authorisation.

  3. Emergency use procedures 

    Workers need to know how to correctly use the equipment, it’s not good enough to show them once and expect they will remember. Document the emergency response sequence and refer to it in inductions, awareness and immersion training, employee handbook, toolbox talks. It should include the following:

    • Accessing shower/eyewash station

    • Activation of unit

    • Removing clothes and personal effects

    • Positioning of head and body

    • Flushing and treatment times

    • Notifying coworkers and emergency services

    • Assisting a co-worker

    • Clean-up and waste disposal

REMEMBER: Emergency procedures need to be concise and be written in a way they can be followed quickly and won’t cause confusion.

Implementing an operating procedure

Operating procedures are only effective if people actually follow them. Rather than explain the psychology of it all, let’s look at these two generic examples to demonstrate possible reasons why people do and do not follow safety procedures.

  • EXAMPLE 1:

    STOREMASTA floor mounted eyewash station side viewThe new HSE Manager arrives onsite and notices immediately there is no compliant safety shower in the lab. Workers rely on a domestic shower located in the toilets if there is an accident. The HSE Manager orders the new shower, has it installed and emails everyone a documented operating procedure. One week later there is a chemical accident but the workers bypass the compliant shower and continue to use the showers in the toilets.

  • EXAMPLE 2:

    The new HSE Manager arrives onsite and walks around the different work areas talking with workers and their supervisors. During a visit to the lab, the HSE Managers notices there is no compliant safety shower. After expressing concerns to the lab workers and explaining the importance of getting to a decontamination station within 10 seconds of chemical exposure, the workers and their supervisor are involved in the selection of a shower unit and where it will be installed.

    Once installed, the HSE Manager coordinates a training session with the lab staff. Each worker spends time using the shower and then acts out a number of simulated emergencies involving themselves and their co-workers. During the session a set of operating procedures is issued and explained by the HSE Manager. Duties are assigned and workers sign off on their understanding of their individual responsibilities and commitment to following the procedure. Weekly inspection, activation and testing of the the new safety shower is added to the weekly audit report which must be submitted to the HSE Manager. The HSE Manager follows up any issues of non-compliance.

REMEMBER: You have a legal responsibility to ensure that each worker receives sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision to keep them safe. Documented operating procedures are an excellent way of demonstrating your compliance.


Next steps

Developing a set of operating procedures for your emergency decontamination facility is an administrative control that will help you ensure your equipment is always compliant and fully operational. For more about keeping emergency showers and eyewash stations within the requirements of Australian Safety Standards, please download our free eBook: 'How to select and use compliant emergency showers and eyewash equipment.' Read it today by clicking on the image below:

How to Select and Use Compliant Emergency Showers and Eyewash Equipment

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. He helps organisations reduce risk and improve efficiencies in the storage and management of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals.

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