Deciding where to put your safety shower and eyewash station

Mar 19, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

In the workplace, emergency showers and eyewash facilities are used to provide immediate decontamination if workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals, flying particles, or are injured in a fire.

This blog will help you decide on the most suitable location for your emergency decontamination station, because the first 10-15 seconds after a chemical exposure incident or burn is of critical importance. The location of the your decontamination equipment could be the difference between complete recovery, permanent blindness or a fatal injury.

IMPORTANT: In Australia the installation of emergency decontamination equipment must comply with Australian Safety Standard AS4775-2007 - Emergency eyewash and shower equipment.

Australian Standards

Referring to Australian Standards is the best place to start when installing an emergency shower or eyewash unit. The overarching Standard AS4775-2007 - Emergency eyewash and shower equipment has a number of specific requirements for the installation which we outline below.

          • Accessibility 

            First, an emergency shower or eyewash station must be immediately accessible and on the same level as the hazard. Sometimes the best way to explain something is to demonstrate what it is not — so in order to be compliant — a worker must NOT have to do any of the following to reach the emergency decontamination equipment:

            • Climb up or down a ladder

            • Open a cupboard, door, or gate

            • Get past a partition or barrier

            • Unlock something

            • Move items out of the way

            • Use stairs

               

          • 10 Second Rule 

            An injured worker must be able to reach the decontamination station within 10 seconds. So when making your decision you’ll need to consider where an injury could happen, and the condition of the worker. An injured worker may need to be carried by co-workers which will slow down the accessibility time.

          • Visibility 

            The overall visibility of a safety shower or eyewash station can impact the 10 second rule. The Standard requires all units to be highly visible and be signed with a warning placard. The entire area served by the equipment must be properly illuminated, so a power cut or damage to a light fitting could render the whole area unsafe and non-compliant.

          • Type of hazardous materials 

            Your next consideration will be the type of hazardous materials that could injure your workers, and in particular, the chemicals and Dangerous Goods you use. Check the hazard class from Safety Data Sheets and refer again to Australian Standards if you carry any of the following:

            • (Flammable liquids) AS1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids

            • (Corrosives) AS3780-2008 - The storage and handling of corrosive substances

            • (Toxic substances) AS4452-1997 - The storage and handling of toxic substances

            • (Oxidisers) AS4326-2008 - The storage and handling of oxidizing agents

            • (Flammable Solids) AS5026-2012 - The storage and handling of Class 4 dangerous goods

            • (Organic Peroxides) AS2714-2008 - The storage and handling of organic peroxides

For each of these chemical types, there is an Australian Standard with a location requirement (sometimes it’s a specific distance, sometimes it’s determined by a risk assessment). For example: the Standard AS3780-2008 requires showers and eyewash units within 7-10 metres of corrosive substances, but no closer than 2 metres. So when deciding on the exact location, you’ll need to consider how water from the decontamination equipment could react with the chemicals, or the corrosives could contaminate or degrade the facilities.

REMEMBER: An eyewash or safety shower must be in a location where no further contamination could take place. So the activation of the unit and release of flushing fluids must not be able to react dangerously with other chemicals or equipment stored in the area.

    • Nature of job site 

      Finally consider the nature of the job site, the profile of your workers and contractors, and the type of work you are undertaking. For example: the needs of a defence site with multiple workers that is off loading and dispensing aviation fuel will be different than a small workshop with 1-2 spray painters. Some things to consider are when choosing the location of your decontamination equipment :

      • Drainage system: what will happen to contaminated waste water? Could it get into drains or waterways and harm the environment? Could another worker or emergency responder  become injured from the waste water?

      • Number of workers: how many workers could have injuries all at the same time? Do you have enough units in place?

      • Electrical equipment: could flushing fluid contact any electrical chords or equipment that becomes hazardous when wet?

      • Climate: How could extreme weather patterns affect the temperature and usability of an eyewash or shower unit? Could the pipes freeze? Could the water become so hot it’s now unsafe for flushing?

      • Disabled workers: do you have disabled workers or other personnel in wheelchairs who may need an eyewash or shower activation lever at a lower level?

      • Privacy: in most chemical emergencies workers have to remove some of their clothing. Nearly all of us cringe at the thought of taking our clothes off in public, but especially consider how workers with cultural and gender sensitivities might be impacted by a shower unit in a high traffic area — in full view of the work floor?

IMPORTANT: Always consider the overall practicality of an emergency station. Is it easily accessible to emergency responders, ambulances, or rescue vehicles? Will work operations, vehicles, equipment interfere with ongoing treatment?

Next Steps

This blog has introduced some considerations for selecting the best location for your emergency decontamination station, here at STOREMASTA we recommend always carrying out a risk assessment before purchasing any safety equipment. For a more detailed guide, we suggest downloading our free eBook How to select and use compliant emergency showers and eyewash equipment. Read it today for the next step in chemical safety compliance.

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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