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Emergency Washing Equipment. Eyewashes and emergency showers. Developed by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) November, 2009. Topics Covered. Chemical eye and skin hazards Personal protective equipment Emergency washing standard Eyewashes Emergency showers

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emergency washing equipment

Emergency Washing Equipment

Eyewashes and emergency showers

Developed by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) November, 2009

topics covered
Topics Covered
  • Chemical eye and skin hazards
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Emergency washing standard
    • Eyewashes
    • Emergency showers
    • Drench hoses

Why are eyewash or emergency showers needed?

The first 10 to 15 seconds after exposure to a hazardous chemical, especially a corrosive chemical, are critical. Delaying treatment, even for a few seconds, may cause serious injury.

Emergency showers and eyewash stations provide on-the-spot decontamination. They allow workers to flush away hazardous chemicals that can cause injury.

Emergency showers can also be used effectively in extinguishing clothing fires or for flushing contaminants off clothing.

Eye damaged by corrosive liquid


The following types of chemicals require emergency washing equipment:

Corrosives –

  • destroy living tissue
  • includes acids and caustics
  • includes chemicals with pH less than 2.5 or more than 11

Strong Irritants –

  • cause an inflammatory effect at point of contact

Toxic Chemicals –

  • are absorbed through the skin and cause ill health effects
  • includes pesticides

Typical areas where emergency washing equipment is needed

Chemical loading stations

Chemical plants


Chemical mixing areas


Pesticide mixing & loading stations


Typical chemicals needing emergency washing equipment



All acids

Sodium hydroxide

Anhydrous ammonia (gas)

Aqueous ammonia

Chlorine gas

Industrial cleaning chemicals

Boiler chemicals

Some solvents

Many pesticides

For other chemicals, check material safety data sheets for chemical properties and eyewash recommendations.

metal parts cleaning
Metal parts cleaning

Emergency washing equipment may be needed, depending on the chemical.

Check the product MSDS to see if it is corrosive or otherwise damaging to the eyes or skin.

dip tanks plating shops

Dip tanks and plating tanks often contain corrosive liquids. Eyewashes and sometimes emergency showers are usually needed.

Dip Tanks & Plating Shops
ways to control chemical hazards
Ways to Control Chemical Hazards
  • Elimination – cease using the chemical
  • Substitution – use a less toxic or less corrosive chemical
  • Dilution – use a less concentrated form of corrosive chemicals
  • Engineering Controls – reduce or eliminate worker access to the chemical
  • PPE – gloves, eye protection, aprons etc.

Note: First aid and emergency washing facilities are still needed when splashes, spills or releases can occur.

engineering control examples
Engineering Control Examples
  • Closed Containers
  • Closed Systems
  • Container Splash Guards
  • Container Pumps – eliminates hand pouring

pesticide closed mixing system

chemically resistant gloves

The type of glove required depends on the kind of chemical. The following are recommended for most chemicals::

Chemically Resistant Gloves





Latex - only for corrosives

Link to chemical glove selection guideNote: this link refers to farm chemicals, but applies to all chemicals

goggles and face shields
Goggles and Face Shields

Goggles are required when handling corrosive liquids

Face shields are recommended for highly corrosive chemicals

protective clothing

Includes aprons, coveralls, whole-body suits

  • Required if there is a risk of splashes to the body from highly corrosive or toxic chemicals.
Protective Clothing
  • Whole-body protective clothing is typically required at chemical plants or hazardous waste sites.

Link to PPE Guideline

Can the PPE this employee is wearing be used in lieu of emergency washing facilities?

No!!! Both are needed.

PPE can prevent injury, but is not fail-safe.

Emergency washing facilities are used to treat or minimize injury when PPE fails or when employees fail to wear it.

real life examples of failed ppe
Real-life examples of failed PPE

These gloves found at plating shop where acids, caustics, and cyanide solutions were used were found to have pinholes.

Poor housekeeping and improper glove care resulting in chemical getting inside these gloves.

emergency washing regulations
Emergency Washing Regulations
  • Found in the Core Rules - WAC 296-800-150(First Aid)
  • ANSI Z358.1-1998 – Emergency Eyewash & Shower Equipment:
    • Referenced in the Rule
    • If you follow ANSI, you will comply with WAC Rule
    • Most eyewash and emergency showers meet ANSI standard

Click on graphics above to link to core rule or ANSI

general requirements
General Requirements

Where emergency washing facilities are

needed, they must be readily available and

accessible as follows:

  • Free from obstructions or obstacles
  • Can be reached in 10 seconds or less
  • Function properly

Note: The travel distance to the eyewash or shower should be no more than 50 ft.

obstructed eyewash example

Photo is an actual eyewash located at commercial laundry.

Employees handled concentrated bleach and caustic detergents.

Consider this scenario: a worker splashes bleach into the eyes, runs to the eyewash, bumps into barrels, leans over obstructions and hits head on ledge, only to find that this eyewash was not hooked up to water!

Obstructed Eyewash Example
emergency eyewashes
Emergency Eyewashes
  • Required where there is the potential

for an employee’s eyes to be exposed

to corrosives, strong irritants, or toxic


  • Eyewash must irrigate and flush both

eyes simultaneously and allow the

user to hold the eyes open with both hands.

  • On-off valve must be activated in one

second and remain open.

  • Must deliver at least 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes.
improper eyewash examples
Improper Eyewash Examples

Inadequate water flow on this eyewash – the left nozzle is not working

This nozzle is just a spray hose and does not meet ANSI standards

approved portable eyewash
Approved Portable Eyewash

Portable eyewashes can be used where there is no plumbing.

Must meet same standards as plumbed eyewash.

Must contain at least 6 gallons of water.

Make sure they meet ANSI standards.

low flow eyewash not approved
Low Flow Eyewash – not approved

One gallon reservoir is not sufficient as primary eyewash.

This unit also has insufficient flow rate.

Can be used as an auxiliary eyewash only.

personal eyewash equipment
Personal Eyewash Equipment
  • Often called “eyewash bottles”
  • Must use potable water or other medically approved eye flushing solution.
  • Cannot be used in place of required shower or eyewash.
faucet mounted eyewashes
Faucet-mounted Eyewashes

Mostfaucet-mounted eye washes

are intended to be supplemental equipment.

Some units do not meet the

provisions of ANSI Z358.1 for eyewash

since it takes two steps to activate them as illustrated.

Some manufacturers have recently offered faucet-mounted eyewashes that meet ANSI standards.

These units should only be used only with cool or warm water to prevent scalding.

1. Turn on water

2. Pull knob

emergency showers
Emergency Showers
  • Required if there is a potential for substantial portions of the body to come into contact with corrosives, strong irritants, or toxic chemicals.
  • Must provide 20 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes.
  • A bathroom shower does not meet these water flow requirements.
hand held drench hoses
Hand-held Drench Hoses
  • Hand-held, single-headed device attached to flexible hose.
  • May not be used as a substitute for required eyewash or emergency showers.
  • Must provide 3 gallons per minute for 15 minutes.
  • Are useful for small spills on extremities.
appropriate water temperature
Appropriate Water Temperature

Water temperature should be moderated to prevent additional harm from scalding or hypothermia.

Most people cannot tolerate flushing their eyes with ice-cold water for 15 minutes.

Any temperature compatible with extended flushing is O.K.

using emergency washing equipment

Emergency washing equipment is rarely used since emergencies by definition are rare events.

On the rare occasion it is needed, a worker’s eyesight can be saved.

The employee with corrosive liquid splashed in the eye will often need help in finding the eyewash and in keeping his eyes open for 15 minutes.

A short training for all at-risk workers should be done – where equipment is located and how to use it.

Using Emergency Washing Equipment
equipment inspection
Equipment inspection
  • Plumbed eyewashes and drench

hoses must be activated weekly and inspected annually.

  • Emergency showers must be activated and inspected annually.
  • Portable equipment must be

inspected and maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Sealed portable units must be replaced after expiration date.

Checking an emergency shower

potable water
Potable water
  • “Potable” means meeting drinking water standards
  • Some workplace or well water is not fit for drinking
  • Emergency washing facilities not using potable water must have signs stating that the water is non-potable
emergency washing equipment citations
Emergency Washing Equipment Citations

In 2007 & 2008, 300+ companies were cited for either a lack of emergency eyewashes or showers, blocked access to the emergency equipment or lack of maintenance.

Every type of business was cited, from restaurants to auto dealers to fruit packing warehouses..

Over 70% of these were cited as “serious” violations which typically include monetary penalties..

additional information
Additional Information

More information on emergency washing equipment

is available on the DOSH webpage at:


For additional assistance, you can call one of our consultants. Click below for local L & I office locations: