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Eyewash Standards & Regulations Overview

In today’s diverse workplace environments, it’s nearly impossible to completely reduce your employee’s risk of accidental particulate or chemical exposure. However, you can protect your workers through education, training and with personal protection equipment (PPE) needed to prevent workplace accidents. Emergency Eyewash Stations and Drench Showers are a necessary component of a comprehensive safety program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates U.S. safety standards and laws, while the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) develops product performance standards for safety equipment. It’s important to note that OSHA has developed a vague safety standard for eyewash equipment needs, but commonly adopts the ANSI Z358.1-2009 Eyewash standard for the enforcement of safety laws.

OSHA Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created as a result of the Occupational Safety and Health act of 1970. The law was created to help further protect employee safety while providing “safe & healthful working conditions”. OSHA’s primary Eyewash standard, 29 CFR 1910.151 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.”

OSHA provides additional regulations for battery charging stations in 29 CFR 1926.441(a)(6) “Facilities for quick drenching of the eyes and body shall be provided within 25 feet (7.62 m) of battery handling areas”.

Depending on your facility and your type of business, OSHA inspections can be scheduled on a regular basis or may be conducted randomly without prior notice. Inspections are also common as a result of an accident within the workplace. If a violation is found during an OSHA inspection, the consequence may range from a warning, monetary fine or even a plant shut-down.

ANSI Z358.1-2009 Standard

The ANSI Z358.1-2009 standard establishes a universal minimum performance and use requirements for all Eyewash and Drench Shower equipment used for the treatment of the eyes, face, and body of a person who has been exposed to hazardous materials and chemicals. Equipment that falls under this standard includes: Drench Showers, Eyewash, Eye/Face Wash, Portable Eyewash, and Combination Eyewash & Drench Shower units. Furthermore, the standard also covers performance and use requirements for Drench Hoses, Bottled Eyewash, and Personal Wash Units, which are considered to be supplemental equipment to emergency Eyewash and Drench Shower units. In addition to performance and use requirements, the ANSI Z358.1 standard also provides uniform requirements for employee training, equipment testing procedures, and the proper maintenance for emergency wash units. Read more about ANSI requirements in our ANSI Eyewash Standard Compliance Guide.

Joint Commission (JCAHO) for Health Care Facilities

Health Care Organizations remain committed not only to patient safety, but to protect their workers from harmful exposure to chemicals, bodily fluids, and bloodborne pathogens. Joint Commission is an independent, non-profit organization that certifies and accredits over 17,000 hospitals, laboratories, surgical centers, ambulatory care centers, long term care facilities, and more.

The Joint Commission 2009 EC Standard for Hospitals requires: "The hospital takes action to minimize or eliminate identified safety and security risks in the physical environment". Furthermore, hospitals are required to "Minimize risk associated with selecting, handling, storing, transporting, using, and disposing hazardous chemicals". Surveyors commonly refer to OSHA requirements and the ANSI Standard for further guidance on best demonstrated practices, equipment performance, and testing standards.

Canadian Provincial Eyewash Regulations

While Canada does not have specific Eyewash & Drench Shower regulations in place, they commonly refer to the ANSI Z358.1 standard for guidance.