Medical Environment Update, July 2011—Aye-aye on eyewash station compliance

By: July 7th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The July issue of Medical Environment Update takes a look at the basics for emergency eyewash station OSHA compliance in medical and dental practices.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

The very brief final section of OSHA’s Medical Services and First Aid standard (1910.151[c]) brings into focus the need for emergency eyewash stations in most medical and dental practices:

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.

In medical and dental practices, this usually means exposures involving but not limited to disinfectants or sterilants such as glutaraldehyde, specimen preservatives such as formaldehyde, hazardous drugs such as the antineoplastic drugs used in chemotherapy, or even splashes from blood or OPIM (see the sidebar on p. 3).

Generally, any chemical or drug that calls for a 15-minute flushing of the eyes and mucous membranes according to the first aid and exposure sections of its MSDS would require emergency eyewash facilities.

The problem is that without specifics on what constitutes suitable facilities, medical and dental practices could overcompensate with inappropriate equipment for the hazards present, or ignore the hazards altogether, failing to protect healthcare workers from serious injury.

OSHA is mum on specifics
Both the general Medical Services and First Aid standard and specific hazard regulations such as the Formaldehyde standard, 1910.1048, require eyewash equipment (or showers when appropriate) when exposure to injurious corrosive materials occurs, but the regulations do not specify the minimum operative requirements, explained paul Burnside, technical support specialist, in a May webinar for Lab Safety Supply in Janesville, WI. For specifics on equipment features, installation, and maintenance, facilities should look to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), specifically “Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment,” ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2009, he adds.

The feature article also includes sections on:

  • ANSI/OSHA alphabet soup
  • The makings of an ANSI-compliant unit
  • Maintenance and training
  • What an OSHA eyewash station violation will cost
  • Are emergency eyewash stations required for blood exposures to the eyes?
  • Eyewash station weekly checklist

Also appearing in July issue of Medical Environment Update:

Get into compliance with HCPro’s Basic OSHA Compliance Manual Kits for medical or dental practices. Receive bimonthly electronic manual updates through your newsletter subscription that keep your regulatory manual up to date and in compliance!


By Bruce Cunha on July 12th, 2011 at 10:05 am

Great points.

The ANSI standard has added a good amount of confusion, specifically with the requirement for “Tepid” water. It is very expensive to install and maintain a system that mixes hot and cold water. Mixing valve systems require a good amount of maintenance and fail on a regular basis causing the eye wash to not operate.

The majority of eye wash devices you can buy do not fully meet the ANSI standard. Even though the advertize that they do. If you read the fine print in the instructions that come with the device they say you have to have volume, temperature and flow rates that meet ANSI standards for the eye wash to meet the standard.


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