Ten seconds. That’s about the same amount of time that it takes to tie your shoelaces or to fold a t-shirt. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), that’s also the longest it should take anyone to reach a safety shower if they are splashed with a hazardous chemical.
OSHA’s regulators set these emergency safety shower standards to make sure workers can receive immediate relief from chemical burns and other workplace safety hazards. But these are not just recommended guidelines. OSHA has no issues with enforcing its regulations through fines. In fact, the organization increased their maximum penalties in January 2020. Willful violations of OSHA rules or standards can now cost companies nearly $135,000 in fines.
Ten seconds passes very quickly, but for an injured person it can feel like both an instant and an eternity. Every second beyond ten increases the intensity of the burn. Every delay causes more severe damage to body tissue, eyes, or skin.
What are the OSHA Emergency Safety Shower Requirements?
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151(c) focuses on emergency showers and eye wash stations specifically by addressing the need for facilities to enable workers to flush themselves of corrosive materials.
It states, "Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use."
Other emergency safety shower standards address specific industries and the hazards associated with them. For example: facilities with open tanks must have an emergency safety shower (or an alternative) within easy reach -- this typically covers dipping and coating applications. Also, the pulp and paper industry must provide facilities to counteract lime or acid burns.
While they cover a lot, the OSHA emergency shower and eye wash station requirements don’t hit every mark. They do not specify details about safety shower functionality or location.
Instead, OSHA refers companies to ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 . The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted the listed standard to protect workers from eye injuries that can be sustained when handling and storing caustic and corrosive substances.
OSHA Emergency Shower Installation Requirements
ANSI Z358.1 details the installation requirements for safety showers and eye wash equipment.
The location of emergency safety showers must be on the same level as the potential hazard requiring their use. They must be free from obstructions and well-lit with clear signage to make it easy for people to find. Under no circumstances should it take longer than 10 seconds to move from the incident to the safety shower.
Safety shower flow rates must meet the need for enough flow of water to flush the affected area completely.
- Showers require a minimum supply of 20 gallons per minute at a pressure of 30 lbs. per square inch for at least 15 minutes.
- Eye washes require a minimum flow rate of 0.4 gallons per minute.
- Combination eye and face wash units must supply at least 3 gallons per minute.
If the water supply is too hot or too cold, it may cause further harm to the injured person. That’s why ANSI specifies the water temperature must be in the tepid range of 60° to 100° F (16° to 38° C).
All Hughes safety showers and eye wash equipment comply to the ANSI standard.
What are the OSHA Emergency Shower Requirements for Servicing and Maintenance?
ANSI Z358 also defines the servicing and maintenance requirements for emergency showers and eyewash stations.
Prevent a buildup of sediment by activating weekly to flush water through the system. For eye wash equipment, also check that there is an even flow between the two nozzles. To help meet these emergency shower requirements, Justrite recommends downloading and using the weekly activation test record developed by Hughes Safety Showers.
Annual inspections certify that the emergency safety shower remains compliant with the ANSI requirements. Validate water temperature, flow rate, location, operation, etc. on an annual basis. This makes sure the equipment is performing how it should and providing the right level of emergency relief.
Practicing OSHA Emergency Safety Shower Standards in Tough Environments
From oil refineries to manufacturing plants, there are many situations in which industrial operations must occupy large areas due to the complex combination of processes and the high volumes produced. Expansions to existing facilities to take advantage of economies of scale increase the site footprint even more. Remote sections of a plant can be miles away from utility.
See how these organizations tackled tough safety shower environments with custom solutions from Hughes Safety Showers to save time and, potentially, lives.
The Tengiz Oilfield
The Tengiz oilfield in Kazakhstan is in one of the harshest environments in the world. Temperatures range from minus 49˚ F to 113˚ F (minus 45˚ C to 45˚ C), making it very difficult to supply potable water in the tepid range. Hughes Safety Showers provided Tengiz with Polar Emergency Tank Showers. The additional benefit of an enclosed cubicle means that the casualty remains in a safe and comfortable environment until help arrives.
Hughes created custom immersion heated emergency tank showers that are suitable when low ambient temperatures make it impractical to use a standalone safety shower. With a large tank capacity, some of them can provide a tepid water flow of up to 20 gallons (76 liters) per minute for the shower and 3 gallons per minute for the eyewash for 15 minutes. Heaters and dual thermostats ensure water temperature remains in the tepid range by using immersion heaters and chiller units for both hot and cold climates.
E-Commerce Logistics Center
A global e-commerce organization expanded its distribution network in Germany with the introduction of a new logistics center. They chose Hughes Safety Showers to provide emergency safety showers for six of their logistic centers.
The company was looking for a custom emergency safety shower solution which would allow the company to keep employees safe in areas where there was no water supply available. The units also needed to be mobile, suitable for indoor use, and both DIN and DVGW compliant.
Working in conjunction with the organization, Hughes provided mobile safety showers and eyewashes. The unheated mobile self-contained emergency safety shower incorporates a polypropylene lined cylinder, a stainless-steel frame, and large pneumatic tires, making it easy to maneuver by one person.
The mobile unit enables rapid response within 10 seconds of a hazard, making the unit highly suitable for large warehouses and logistic centers such as this, where plumbed-in units cannot be installed consistently throughout the building.
Free ANSI Tech Guide Helps Meet OSHA Emergency Shower Requirements
The ANSI Z358 standard can be complicated, but our free ANSI tech guide can help. Download today to make sure your emergency shower and eyewash stations meet safety shower requirements.