How to keep your emergency eyewash and  shower equipment compliant

Jun 14, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Now you’ve purchased and installed eyewash facilities and an emergency shower, how are you going to keep the equipment operational and compliant?

Here at STOREMASTA we regularly see chemical stores and safety apparatus that have been allowed to fall into disrepair due to poor housekeeping, lack of integrity testing, and insufficient training. This blog is about protecting the investment you have made in emergency decontamination equipment — and most importantly — ensuring it is always ready to save a life.

Maintenance and tagging

Australian Standard AS4775-2007 - Emergency eyewash and shower equipment has strict requirements for ensuring your emergency eyewash and shower are always operational and ready for use. As a minimum, if your equipment is plumbed (eg, connected to a permanent water source) each unit must be activated at least once a week. This gives you the opportunity to verify the operation of the unit, as well as clear the water supply line of any sediment or blockages. Still water can quickly stagnate and begin to build-up microbial contaminants.

 

IMPORTANT: Emergency showers and eyewash units that have their own self-contained tanks also need regular checks to see if the flushing fluid needs refilling or changing. 

All emergency decontamination equipment require annual inspection and testing by a qualified technician. This includes:

  • Plumbed and self-contained eyewash equipment

  • Plumbed and self-contained combination (eye and face) wash equipment

  • Plumbed and self-contained emergency showers

Once tested, the units are tagged to verify they are operational, and meet the full requirements of the Standard. This compliance tag must be permanently attached to the shower/eyewash.

Housekeeping and signage

Once you have installed an emergency decontamination station you must implement consistent housekeeping practices to ensure it is always visible (and accessible) to the workers who are exposed to hazardous materials in the area.

To be compliant an emergency shower, eyewash, or combination eye/face wash station has five key requirements:

  1. Location - the decontamination equipment must be on the same level as the hazard. So if you change the location of a hazard you’ll need to move the equipment or install an additional unit. Eg, your workplace builds a new mezzanine floor for a vat of chemicals, this new area cannot be served by the emergency shower/eyewash on the ground floor.

  2. Accessibility - any injured worker must be able to reach the emergency equipment within 10 seconds (or sooner if exposed to highly corrosive chemicals). Make sure that any changes to  the workplace don’t impact the accessibility of the shower/eyewash. Eg, the floor surface near an outdoor emergency shower is damaged in a storm. The floor now has raised surfaces and potholes. This could limit the accessibility of an injured worker and may render the area non-compliant.

  3. Obstructions - there must be a clear path AT ALL TIMES between the hazard and the decontamination station. Don’t allow workers to leave personal items, boxes, pallets or vehicles in the pathway, and always review your work processes after installing new equipment — eg, parking a forklift between a welder’s workbench and the eyewash station could limit access during an emergency.

  4. Visibility and signage - the emergency decontamination equipment must be able to be seen (and easily identified) throughout the entire area served by the equipment. You’ll need compliant warning placards as well as ensuring the area remains well-lit. Eg, both a missing sign or a power failure (insufficient lighting) could render the station non-compliant.

  5. Sufficiency - you need to have enough equipment to serve all the workers in an area. Eg, your manufacturing output expands and you hire 10 additional workers, could all of those workers be injured at the same time? Is your existing emergency decontamination station sufficient?

Staff training

Anyone likely to be exposed to hazardous materials (liquid chemicals, pesticides, hazardous dusts, metal grindings etc) needs proper training — so they could treat themselves (or a co-worker) in an emergency. This training would include as a minimum:

  • Nature of the hazardous materials in the area that could cause them an injury.

  • Location of the emergency decontamination station serving the area.

  • How to activate and operate the unit.

  • Flushing times for different injuries (eg, 15 minutes flushing for an irritant vs 30-60 minutes flushing for an acid or base.

  • Full procedure for an emergency (eg, remove clothes/jewellery/contacts, flushing time, notifying emergency services)

  • Practice using the unit on themselves.

  • Simulated emergencies involving another co-worker.

  • Not to misuse the equipment (eg, NOT using an emergency shower as a laundry station or for washing out food containers).

Other important training considerations

Your training should also include general care of the unit, because it is up to the workers in the area to take care of it properly and not leave anything lying around that could interfere with its usability. You’ll need to train at least two staff members to conduct the weekly activation and integrity testing, as well as program in the annual inspection and tagging. We recommend building this training into your formal induction program as well as regular toolbox talks, safety forums, staff/management meetings.

Next Steps

If you need more information about your legal responsibilities that surround the selection, installation and ongoing functionality of emergency showers and eyewash stations, download our free eBook How to select and use compliant emergency showers and eyewash equipment. We’ve design the text for busy HSE Managers who need clear, practical advice that doesn’t take the whole day. Download and read it now by clicking on the image blow:

How to Select and Use Compliant Emergency Showers and Eyewash Equipment

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Adviser. He loves helping businesses reduce the risk that Dangerous Goods pose upon their employees, property and the environment through safe and compliant dangerous goods storage solutions.

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