An eye wash station is a safety device that is found in many industries including manufacturing, chemical processing, research laboratories, and many other industries. The purpose of an eye wash station is to effectively flush the eyes if a chemical contaminant gets into one or both eyes. The chemical contamination can be from any potentially hazardous gas or liquid. Eye wash stations are designed to be the first line of treatment and triage for any ocular chemical injuries in the workplace. Knowing how and when to use an eye wash station is vital for anyone in these fields.
Basic Parts of an Eye Wash Station
An eye wash station may look different based on the design and the industry which it was crafted for. However, nearly all eye wash stations have the same basic principles.
There are two faucets that receive water from a central water line and are used to flush the eyes.
Beneath the faucets is a basin to contain the flowing water and any chemical that rinses out or off of the individual.
Some eye wash stations will have other components such as a safety shower, first aid supplies, or an adjustable knob for the pressure of the water flow. These differences do not impact the overall function or use of the eye wash station.
How to Use an Eye Wash Station
An eye wash station is designed to be used with at least one other person assisting the individual who was exposed to the chemical.
The exposed individual will remove any glasses or goggles from their face and align their eyes with the faucets on each side.
The individual assisting will then help hold open the eyelids and initiate the water flow.
The duration and number of times a wash needs to be performed will vary depending on the chemicals which are present in the setting.
Following the appropriate amount of rinsing, the individual should lightly dry their eyes and face and then proceed to seek additional medical attention for their eye injury as needed.
When to Use an Eye Wash Station
Any time there are chemicals that are hazardous if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed by the skin, there is an increased risk of chemical injury to the eyes.
If you are unsure whether a chemical did enter the eyes, but you are not positive that it did not enter the eyes, proceed with the eye wash station as a precautionary measure.
Examples of common instances which lead to chemicals getting into the eyes include the breakage of containers of chemicals, splashing of chemicals when being transferred, or various forms of pressurized explosions of chemicals.
In almost all of these settings, there has to be something that is not done to a protocol or standard, and additional safety eyewear (safety glasses, splash goggles, face shield, etc.) is missing in order for a true chemical injury to occur.