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Webinar: Emergency Safety Showers - The Challenges of Providing Tepid Water in Any Climate

ByMike Bolden | Published: June 14, 2018
Presented by Hughes Safety Showers
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Key Takeaways

Emergency safety showers are designed to keep workers safe from chemical hazards while on the job. To avoid further injury to users, emergency safety showers must provide a steady stream of tepid water – not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Unfortunately, this is challenging in some climates.

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Webinar Transcription

Jamie: Hello, and a warm welcome to everybody. We would like to wish everybody a good morning, a good afternoon, or a good evening, depending on where you are in the world today. My name is Jamie, and I’m one of the co-founders of Safeopedia. Safeopedia's mission is to support the EHS professionals, operational folks, and any safety-minded individuals with free safety information, tools, and education. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to those dedicated professionals for the great work they do on a daily basis.

Today, we’re very proud to present Emergency Safety Showers: The Challenges Delivering Tepid Water in Any Climate. This Safeopedia webinar is being presented by Hughes Safety Showers, a Justrite Group company.

It is now my pleasure to introduce to you today’s presenter, Michael Bolden. Michael has been passionate about safety for more than 20 years while serving in product management, sales, and marketing in the automotive aftermarket and industrial safety industries. He has been an active member of the ISEA standards committee for Z87.1 – that’s the eye and face standard – as well as the Z358.1, the emergency shower and eye wash standard. Michael has an acute focus on driving compliance and providing innovative solutions to hazardous conditions in the workplace. I now invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the presentation. With that, Michael, please take it away.

Michael: Thanks so much, Jamie, and hello to everybody. Thanks so much for joining us today. I want to thank our host, Safeopedia, and The Safety Network for the opportunity to talk to you today about the challenges of delivering tepid water in a variety of challenging environments. This is a subject that comes up a great deal in my travels, and there is no way possible, within the time constraints, to touch on every type of situation or solution you might face on this particular subject. Instead, I can only provide a cursory overview today. Should you have any questions or want to discuss in detail, I’m sure my contact information is available on Safeopedia.

Today, I want to present really six subjects that surround this topic. First, I’ll lightly discuss the OSHA and ANSI standards and what they say about tepid water. Next, I’ll do a shallow dive on the human characteristics that relate to our topic. Then, an illustration of the climates which tend to require some type of water tempering. Next, I’ll talk about the differentiation between freeze protections, scald protection, and water tempering based on various approaches, which really leads me into the various methods to achieve tepidity. Then finally, a justification of the cost. When all things are really considered here, you may not nearly pay as much for tepid water as you might think, or the alternative.

What does the OSHA standard really say about the need for emergency shower and eyewash equipment in general? Well, in the medical services and first aid section, it states “where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching and flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the area for immediate emergency use.

OSHA really doesn’t say anything regarding the attributes of the equipment or what constitutes suitable or even how immediate is defined. Instead, when they do their investigations and inspect facilities, they refer to the ANSI Z358.1 standard. That provides the source for the details. The most recent addition of the ANSI standard is 2014. Although the term “tepid water” is introduced in earlier versions, it wasn’t really until 2009 that the specific tepid water parameters were established in the standard. Finally, there was something to guide us on this subject, and the tepid water rates were established between 60 and 100 degrees.

There, this webinar is over, and you can resume your normal life, right? Well, not really, and not necessarily. The new parameters will likely keep emergency equipment from freezing up, which is a good thing, but can the body actually withstand 60 degrees flushing for 15 minutes? How about 100 degrees? In reality, the low part of the range may be too cold for you, and the upper part of the range may be dangerously close to scalding you. Later, I’ll talk about the types of fixtures that are most common when looking for a tepid water solution.

At this point, I can tell you that most emergency shower and eyewash fixtures can be considered a candidate for some form of mechanism to keep up in the tepid range. However, most conventional fixtures really have no way of providing or ensuring that the water that comes out of them is tepid, unless you have some type of added device.

Your body has a really strange way of reacting to non-tepid water. Getting into a pool with colder than normal water can cause your skin and body core temperatures to decline. It can also contract to conserve as much warmth as it can. Certainly, George Costanza used that as an excuse in the sitcom, Seinfeld. It was really a very funny moment in the episode, but in an emergency situation, when quality of life and potential death might possibly be an issue, an affected user seeking first aid needs to be able to take their eyes and body in the stream as comfortably as possible to mitigate further injury.

What does cold water do to you? Well, cold causes the superficial blood vessels to narrow, increasing the blood flow to the internal organs and back to the heart. A greater returning blood volume means that the heart has to also work harder to move the blood around, and the deeper blood vessels have to relax to keep the blood pressure within a normal range. By showering in water that is colder than your core body temperature, your body heat is lost to the environment. Immersing in water even a degree or two lower than the core body temperature can lead to hypothermia, if you happen to be an older person like me.

When you get out of the shower and you’re left with cold air, hypothermia can creep in quickly if you have no place to go to stay warm. Conversely, what happens when you’re in hot water? Well, hot water causes the blood vessels on the surface of the skin to dilate. This means that blood flows to the body’s surface and away from internal organs. It is the body’s way of dissipating heat to keep the core body temperature within normal levels. Excessive blood flow to the skin and subsequent compensatory mechanisms can cause cardiovascular strain, and that can’t be good, right?

Just to compound the issue, some chemicals react adversely to the temperature of water. It’s really important that you do your homework upfront before you choose your equipment. The bottom line is, consult a medical advisor, a chemist, or both to ensure that the potential chemicals your associates are working around can be mitigated responsibly.

Depending on a number of things ranging from ambient temperature to the level of activity you’re involved in, your body’s core temperature can change. The typical eye temperature ranges anywhere from 91 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and your body temperature range tends to be somewhere around 89 to 100 degrees, normally. I apologize to those of you out in the country, outside of the US, because I’m only giving you the Fahrenheit temperatures. That probably isn’t fair to you, but exposure below or above the core temperature range of your eyes and body would probably not be considered tepid if you rely on that data alone.

What temperature do you take a shower at in the morning? Most studies show that the best temperature is the temperature closest to your body’s normal core temperature, and that can vary, of course. How about Olympic swimmers? This is an interesting thing. They do a lot of exertion while they’re in the water, competing. The optimal temperature of water for an athlete’s body while competing in a race is about 26 degrees Celsius. Hey, I got it in there! Or, 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Because their bodies are working so hard, this extreme exertion creates above average core temperatures, so the lower water temperature cools the body temperature and the swimmer is able to perform at the highest level at that particular temperature.

They probably wouldn’t be, if it was warmer or cooler. Many other studies which have been done by top emergency shower and eyewash companies have concluded the same for the shower and eyewash equipment. It’s really quite simple. Below or above your body’s core temperature can cause many adverse actions that might not be advisable, especially when confronted with a serious chemical injury.

How about the extreme climates? Where are you on this particular map that I’m showing during the winter months? The graph shows the average winter temperatures for the United States. While some areas of the country are quite mild, a large portion of the US experiences cool or cold temperatures in the winter. Those areas should certainly consider some type of water tempering to protect the worker from adverse ambient conditions, especially if the equipment is located outdoors.

When a worker in a colder climate has an accident, tepid water really is a must. But remember, when they get out of the shower, how are they protected? If immediate medical attention is not available, the injured person may face a worse injury from exposure to the cold ambient temperatures. In your plant, if you do not have your shower and eyewash equipment alarmed when a shower and eyewash is used, you may have additional issues to consider as well.

The summer months flip the chart on where water tempering should be considered. Recently, I was doing an emergency shower and eyewash survey in northern Alabama. This year, they have had snow and ice events that covered the area. When I was there, the heat was starting to come on strong. For certain parts of the plant where emergency fixtures were exposed to the outdoor environment, there was a need for both cooling and heating of the water to maintain a comfortable tepid temperature.

There was also caustic materials where I was in that area, so it was very important to ensure that those who sought a shower could stay under it, drenching for as long as possible until medical attention could arrive. This just proves that no matter where you might be in the country, your climate may demand that you have tepid water for showers and eyewashes, especially if they are exposed to the outdoors.

Let’s say that you’re convinced that your place of business needs tepid water. You need to really be prepared to pay more upfront. Depending on the particular circumstances, tepid water can be expensive. Taking shortcuts can even be more expensive if the worst case scenario occurs and someone is injured severely without proper equipment. Please don’t get two phrases confused. Freeze protection and tepid water means something completely different, but they usually coexist in extreme conditions.

Freeze protection types include the freeze protection valves, which are included in a lot of places that have the tendency to freeze up. They mechanically monitor incoming water temperature. These valves contain a temperature-sensitive material that contracts when exposed to the water temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. This contraction allows the valve to open so water can flow. As the water temperature in the valve approaches 40 degrees, the thermal material expands and closes the valve.

Another way to protect against freezing pipes is electrically heat tracing. They also insulate these pipes where the water flows. Both methods and other ambient-type heating methods will extend the life of your equipment, but again will not provide tepid water. Scald protection works a little bit differently. It’s the antithesis of freeze protection, and the scald valve will actually initiate flow when the thermostatic actuator senses 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and will remain open as long as the discharged water is above 95 degrees. These two methods I just mentioned will not do too much to provide tepid water.

Tepid water is typically blended, delivered through a fixture which treats the water so that it stays stable, usually between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Tepid water can also be cooled or heated to a tepid temperature in a vessel that is ready for delivery by gravity feed or by pressurized air. But a warning of these types of systems, the last type that I mentioned that isn’t a vessel that’s already at a tepid temperature is generally below 140 degrees, so you really need to have some type of water conditioning to eliminate the growth of harmful bacteria. It will not cure your old pipes that have lots of sediment in them, but it will kill microorganisms that can cause serious threats to your health.

Let’s talk about some of the solutions. As I mentioned before, if you have both hot and cold water sources, the natural selection might be a thermostatic mixing valve. Most are factory-set, from between 85 degrees and 87 degrees Fahrenheit. Most can be adjusted, but it’s important that if your chemical exposure potential requires a higher or lower temperature of the water, to safely drench without chemical reaction to the water temperature itself, you want to do your homework to ensure that you’re setting the temperature safely.

Also, make sure that you’re using a thermostatic mixing valve which fails to the cold side. You may be in trouble if it isn’t specifically designed for shower and eyewash equipment. On most of these types of valves, if the valve completely fails on the cold side, the valve will shut down completely. You need to have a contingency plan in the event that this takes place. Finally, always ensure that your hot water source is above 140 degrees, or you could expose a user to many forms of bacteria, including legionella.

Another type of product that’s used at the point of use is low pressure steam. This type of unit allows for a mixing valve to act with its unique pressure sensing controller. This controller assures cold water will flow to the shower and eyewash stations even if no hot water is available, provided the cold water supply is not shut off somewhere in the system. This is accomplished using self-operating controls with no electricity and no air required.

This is great for very cold climates, so you probably won’t see these in New Orleans or south of Tuscon. They’re very efficient and provide a relatively low cost of investment. They also fit in most areas you might want them, but you absolutely must have access to steam. Another warning on this type of equipment though is to make sure that you do regular maintenance and follow the manufacturer’s advice on how to maintain them. But the rule of thumb is to do plenty of flushing, which is required already by the ANSI Z358.1 standard on a weekly basis.

Electrically powered systems are another point of use-type product. They generally require some engineering up front to determine what needs to be included to protect from hazardous environments where explosion-proofing is absolutely needed. Therefore, they are designed for the electrical clash you require in your plant, and that could be [INAUDIBLE 0:20:43] up to extreme areas, like Class 1 DID 1. They usually have a fail safe blending system which supplies cold water if the blending system fails. The SKID package generally includes a hot water vessel and requires water pressure from your plant’s infrastructure, which is adequate enough to flow blended water properly, but some of these SKID packages also include pumps to ensure the water delivery.

The important things to remember and to ensure is that your infrastructure can provide adequate electrical power and water pressure and volume as specified by the manufacturer. While these systems are quite reliable, without a stable source for both, you’ll have a very expensive shower. There’s also another point of use method instead of the heated vessel, and that is the use of instantaneous heaters. They can be quite expensive and they require an enormous amount of electrical power.

Some of you may be familiar with tepid water loops, especially if you’re in a chemical or petrochemical type of application. These can be inexpensive overall, when you consider the tepid water is going to multiple showers on a recirculation loop. They are normally powered electrically, but they can be also powered by steam. I’ve even seen some instances where multiple showers were powered by air pressure. This solution requires the most engineering upfront. It can also provide a great deal of ongoing maintenance to ensure that it works 24/7. It requires a tremendous infrastructure for both potable water and electrical power.

When they’re designed and work properly, your investment can be maximized by having one mixing point to drive the use of multiple showers on the loop. When they don’t work, you can generally expect to pay significantly for upkeep and also for troubleshooting and replacement parts. The most important thing to do, though, is to make sure that you do your homework. Elevations, the length of the loop, water pressure can play havoc on these systems if they are not properly engineered.

Gravity-fed eyewash systems are really probably the most simplistic option. The design is really simplistic. It’s almost like a gravity-fed eyewash that you would buy for $160 at your local distributor. It’s the same theory, but the volume in the vessel obviously is much more significant. They can be heated or cooled so they can be used in all types of environments. The entrance can be open in warm environments and include arctic enclosures with ambient heaters for cold environments.

For extremely cold environments, they can also include freeze protection through electrical heat tracing and insulation. Tank showers can also be designed for or with or without the need for plumbed potable water. Gravity feeds the water to the shower and eyewash easily, and without anything electrical or pressurized to produce the water movement to the shower and eyewash unit. For warm water, a simple immersion heater can be adjusted to a wide range of temperatures, and on the other side of the aisle for cooler water, you can add a simple chiller to be able to use this in a wide range of temperatures to cool the water.

It can be used in climates that are both cold and hot, with a simple thermostatic controlling mechanism to keep the water tepid year-round. However, you must use a biocide of some type to ensure that no bacterial growth occurs. Some solutions will last for six months, some have an automatic feed, and others provide bacterial-free environments for three years.

If it’s not plumbed, ANSI only requires that a visual inspection be done to ensure the tank is filled for weekly inspections. If it is plumbed, some include an activation lever on the outside of the enclosure so that you don’t get wet during required weekly flow testing. Most contain a sump and pump to move water to responsible collection areas. Although the footprint is quite small, you need to consider the height. Lower profile units like this are available, but do require electrical pumps to ensure the proper flow.

What if you’re in a situation where you only need temporary shower and eyewash, but you need to meet the ANSI compliance for doing so? Well, mobile tepid water solutions are the answer, and they provide ANSI-compliant flow rates and tepid water for cooler environments. Mobile solutions may still be able to provide 20gpm to the shower for 15 minutes and at least 4.4gpm. Usually though, they’re about 3gpm to the eyewash simultaneously.

These units generally use an immersion heater to keep the water thermostatically set to a reasonable temperature range. They also include options like thermal blankets and generators for the electrical components in the event that you’re in an area where you have no access to electrical or potable water. Some are open vessels that are used for temporary use when your plant shower and eyewash units are down for repairs or maintenance or being performed in a general area.

For colder climates, units are available with closed showers at the rear or front of the unit. Be aware of the egress issue, though, on these types of enclosed showers. The ANSI standard only allows one step up, but recommends that the shower and eyewash unit be at the same level as the work area. These mobile units will usually have a place for wastewater to be responsibly disposed of or a containment device to catch the wastewater.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the webinar, it’s important when confronted with an emergency need for a shower and eyewash that it performs in a way that will keep the affected user comfortable while being drenched with an enormous volume of water. Shower and eyewash units are not like your shower in your home. Water from a shower head is being dispensed at a minimum of 20 gallons per minute. Your home shower may only reach 3gpm at the most. If the water is not tepid, your water will react differently to your body’s core temperature in potentially harmful ways.

At 8:43 two weeks ago on this day, I was testing a shower in the heart of the Midwest to make sure that it was ANSI compliant. While the ambient air temperature was mild, the temperature of the water that accidentally soaked my entire body when the shower chute gave way was about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I felt as though I was punched in the gut by George Foreman and couldn’t breathe for a couple of seconds. It was all I could do to quickly get out of the way of the intense volume of water that was coming down suddenly on me.

It was at that point I realized that this webinar was much more important than me, and possibly many others in worse conditions than I was, because I wasn’t injured. Extreme climates may demand that you have tepid water at your facility, especially those units that are outside. I was in an inside manufacturing facility at the time. However, I was still adversely affected by the temperature of the incoming water. If a chemical splash victim is not able to stay under the stream during an emergency and OSHA gets involved after, a company could pay many times the cost of tepid water.

If you really don’t know what your company needs, there are plenty of companies, such as mine, who are passionate about safety and will provide, in most cases, free advice to help you make up your mind about what needs to be done to protect your valuable workers in the best way possible. Whatever you do, please don’t invite the worst case scenario to take place. There are many solutions available, and we are at the best point I’ve seen in almost 20 years to provide the best protection and first aid to our working associates.

Again, I want to thank, so much, Safeopedia and The Safety Network for what they do and for providing this forum. Thanks so much for your time today as well. Back to you, Jamie.

Jamie: Thank you, Michael. We really appreciate you taking the time as well, to lead us down the right path. As we saw on our social media, Goldilocks would be proud, getting that temperature just right. So, we’re getting up to the Q&A portion now. I had quite a few questions come in. Again, we’ve got some time left, so if you haven’t put your question in but you have one, make sure to get it into the GoToWebinar control panel there. With that, we’ll start with the first one.

John asks a question here. What would a medical professional recommend in the event of a chemical splash or other type accident?

Michael: Well, most of the time, what I’ve heard them say is that you need to have plenty of flushing and you need to make sure that all of the chemical or whatever foreign matter in your eye needs to be completely flushed out. They don’t generally tell you that you need a 20gpm shower head, but they do tell you that you need to have plenty of flushing. If you don’t have that available to you, you could be in a lot of trouble and you could exacerbate the initial injury itself.

Jamie: Great. Thank you, Mike. Alright, Ryan asks what should the temperature of the water be, definitively?

Michael: Just as I had mentioned in the webinar, that really is a personal thing. I know, for example, that when I’m showering, I kind of like something that’s close to my body core temperature. But my wife, for example, she loves really hot temperatures. The main thing is that you have something that’s probably between that 80 to 90 degree temperature. Depending on the environment that you’re in, that gives you probably the best range to operate that shower and eyewash effectively.

Jamie: Thank you. Sarah asks is any piece of equipment more advisable than another?

Michael: There really isn’t, and this is where you really need to have and really consult with someone that’s in the industry, that has some credible advice to provide. There are a number of really great companies that I actually compete with in this industry, and it really depends on your particular situation. A lot of things that come into play here are the amount of height and space that you have in your particular area.

It also depends on the climate, of course. There are a few solutions out there that will help you in really warm climates, but not nearly as many as there are for colder climates. It really depends on the space, the footprint of where you need that equipment to be, and it certainly needs to comply with the ANSI standard, which is within ten seconds of the actual hazard. You need a very clear path to get to that piece of equipment.

The one thing that I want to add, though, many times when I do shower and eyewash inspections or surveys, the one thing that I always ask is what is your training program? That tends to be something that is really needed, that I don’t find – as a matter of fact, I was in one recently, at one plant that said, “Yes, everybody that’s new, we show them around and show them how to get to the emergency equipment.” Well, a lot happens over the years, and you may be putting new equipment in, new types of equipment that operate differently. It’s really a good thing to make sure that not only you have that equipment in the right place, but make sure everybody knows where it is and how it operates.

Jamie: Thank you, Mike. Jay has a question here. Do you have any recommendations concerning those saline wash bottles, those eyewashes that come in the bottles? Do you have any recommendations for those?

Michael: The ANSI standard actually covers this, but only as an accessory item. Something that actually qualifies as an ANSI shower and eyewash piece of equipment, depending on what you need, whether it’s a shower or an eyewash or a combination, it has to flow for 15 minutes and it has certain standards that it has to meet as far as volume goes. Eyewash bottles are a great thing to have if you’re in a place where you can grab those quickly, but it’s only the precursor to finding real ANSI-compliant products that’s hopefully somewhere close by. Don’t rely on the bottles for everything you need to protect you.

Jamie: Interesting. On the way over to the eyewash station, you would grab the bottle that’s nearby and start flushing? Is that right?

Michael: Yes. The important thing here is to make sure that you mitigate the injury quickly. If somebody’s affected by some type of exposure to a chemical, it could be something like lime or anything that is going to cause a major injury to you, you need to try to quickly react to that and make sure that you start the flushing as quickly as possible. Bottle eyewashes do that, but only until you can get to that particular piece of equipment.

Now, there’s situations where, when you’re sprayed by a chemical, you can’t hardly see, anyway. Those bottles are actually a pretty good thing in a pinch, because you can start the irrigation quickly until you can see to get to the place where you have your emergency shower and eyewash.

Jamie: That’s really interesting. Okay, here’s one from the survey. Forgive me, I don’t have the name attached to it, but we really appreciate everybody that filled out the survey with their questions ahead of time. This question is can we use tap water for eyewash? Great question.

Michael: I would say probably the city water, you’re probably okay. The one thing that the standard does require is that you have potable water. It can’t be something that you’re pumping out of a river into a tap. It’s probably not a good case to do that, because you can invite bacteria or infection as well. It’s just probably better to have something that you know for sure that you’re getting the water and it comes from a source that has treated it properly, and it’s potable.

Jamie: Thank you, Mike. Let’s see here, another one from the survey. How do you address water for an older industrial environment for a 40 year old facility? Before tepid water became an issue, is it mandatory that the city make renovations, or are they grandfathered in? Awesome question.

Michael: Well, I don’t think – when I hear something like this, I’m really concerned, because are you just trying to make sure that you can pass the standard, if OSHA comes out? I realize this, because I’ve been in this industry long enough – I realize that the companies need to produce, and that’s really what’s first and foremost on their mind.

Some of the older facilities I’ve been in, yes, they’ve got some real problems, especially the piping that’s been there forever. You can see a lot of sediment come out of the piping, and I was just in another facility not too long ago where the people in the facility did not want to use the shower and eyewash equipment there, because there was sediment that was coming up when they would do the weekly activations. Sediment would come up, and it just looked gross to them, and they didn’t want to use it.

Somebody decided to put eyewash bottles right next to the emergency shower and eyewash equipment. To me, that’s pretty sad, because it really is important that you provide something for your employees when they’re seriously hurt, that they have no problem with using. There’s no real grandfathering here, to really answer the question. What there really is is kind of what OSHA says in their standard.

I said this at the beginning. They just are saying, in a general sense, you have provide equipment that can give proper medical attention to those that are injured. The ANSI standard gives you a guideline on the type of equipment, how they operate, where they’re located, and now, the tempering as well. But the real issue here is it’s not really grandfathering yourself. In fact, there is nothing that I know of that really is considered a grandfathering clause.

But the main thing is what are you doing to protect your workers? Really, I think that’s the essence of what OSHA is saying in the standard.

Jamie: Yes, that’s perfect. A bunch of sediment in your eye being grandfathered in doesn’t really solve the problem of fixing flushing out your eyes. Thank you, Mike. Great feedback. Bob has a really good question here. Is it required that the water must maintain a tepid water range for the full 15 minutes?

Michael: Yes, that’s a great question. The answer is yes, it absolutely does. You’re going to find, in so many situations – I know have, especially when I’m in southern states – that the initial surge of water that you feel can be, if it’s not protected from scalding, you can have 120 degree temperatures of the water flow initially, and then it settles down as the water gets into a tepid range with the pipes being clear.

That’s one of the reasons why you really need to have some type of something, because the standard requires that, within one second of activation, you should have water that’s irrigating your body or your eyes or both. In a cold situation, you may have water that’s coming from a different direction that isn’t being blended. You may have the inside, as a matter of fact, and actually have tepid water coming out between 60 and 100 degrees, but that cold water feed could be on the outside, that has temperatures that are below 60 degrees. Then, all of a sudden you’re out of that tepid range. The answer is yes, on the 15 minutes.

Jamie: Thank you, Mike, for that. We have one here, another one from the survey. It says we have three emergency showers and an eyewash, and we live in a very hot weather climate. How can this help? I’m assuming they’re referring to how can tepid water help, if you could speak a little bit about hot climates there, Mike?

Michael: Well, I’m not sure I quite understand that question. But if you’ve got three different showers and eyewash units, you probably need to have somebody give you some good advice, based on the proximity of those shower and eyewash units. Are they directly contacting the sun? Are they inside? There’s a lot to be considered here.

I would say that most of the time, when I’ve been in a southern climate and there is sun that is beating down not only the on the shower and eyewash equipment but also exposed piping that provides water to those units, you have to have some way to make sure that it isn’t scalding when it comes out. If you’re in a very warm building where temperatures can get above 100 degrees as well, you still have the same type of issue. I think the bottom line, though, is there are plenty of folks that you can call on in your individual situation that can provide really good advice to make sure that you have the proper equipment installed that will provide tepid water.

Jamie: I love that answer. I think you nailed it. Consider your specific situation. Is it in direct contact with the sun? Growing up in Canada, you really never thought about that, how the water could be too hot coming from up above. It was always too cold. That’s a really good answer.

Let’s see here, a couple more. I’m just going to paraphrase here. You mentioned different chemicals can react differently to different water temperatures. Do you know of any resources that list out different water temperatures for different chemicals?

Michael: The one thing that you really want to do here – and I really want to be very careful about this subject, because this is, again, one of those situations where you’ve got so many different types of applications in the marketplace. You really have to do your homework here. I’m not a chemist. I’m not going to even pretend to be one. But I know certain situations that I’ve been around, and one recently, where there was hydrochloric acid in a place where people had to perform maintenance.

When you’re in the safety industry, you always think of the most catastrophic thing that can happen, and that’s where you base your solution for that situation. Well, in hydrochloric acid in this particular instance, the dilution that it was in actually can have an exothermic reaction to water itself. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is. You have to really do your homework. There’s a lot of resources that are out there.

If you’re just trying to rely on doing a search on Google, believe me, I do a lot of research on a lot of different types of applications. A lot of times, I end up consulting somebody that is a chemist or that is somebody that’s very knowledgeable about chemical reactions. It’s really important to get this right, because you certainly don’t want to cause harm for your entire facility if you have this type of situation take place.

Now, I even had a situation recently where there was a wastewater chemical plant that has a high concentration of lime in a certain part of their facility as well. That lime, when it’s mixed with water, is not a good place to be. It can have somewhat of an exothermic reaction, but there are other places that you can have all kinds of other issues, depending on the temperature of the water.

If you consulted me about that, you probably wouldn’t get an immediate response. I’d have to do a lot of homework to make sure that I was giving you the proper advice, and it was based on somebody that really knows what they’re talking about.

Jamie: Yes, I definitely really appreciate that, Mike. Alright, here is a great question. What is a preferred cleaning method for a large shower system?

Michael: Boy, that’s hard to say, depending on what type of equipment it might be. The one thing that you can do to mitigate having any problems with any type of equipment is to make sure that you flush that system, especially if it’s a plumbed system, every single week without fail. I see so many situations when I travel around, talking to folks and plants. I see so many situations where they will only do maybe a monthly flushing, and maybe they have people that are assigned workers that work in an area, that are assigned to do that flushing weekly, but maybe don’t.

I’ve had plenty of places where I’ve done surveys, that I look at the inspection sticker and it shows consistently, every single week, somebody is saying that they inspect that product. The problem is, a lot of times I’ll activate it and I’ll find out that it doesn’t activate at all, or it’s got half-inch plumbing to it that can’t activate properly.

There’s a lot of things that you have to really make sure in your plant, that you do from a maintenance standpoint, and also from a compliance standpoint, to ensure that your shower and eyewash equipment, and maybe other types of equipment, are flushed out on a very regular basis. I think prevention is probably the best part of this. As far as maintenance goes or cleaning goes, it really depends on the type of product.

But one of the things that can prevent having to do much cleaning is to make sure that you’re flushing the product out on a regular basis. Also, make sure that, on an annualized basis, you do a complete inspection. So many products are replaced that are in plants on a regular basis. You need to ensure that they comply with the ANSI standard and make sure that they activate properly. That’s what you would definitely do on an annualized basis.

Jamie: Alright, thank you, Mike. Here is a great question, of two things that definitely don’t mix. How close can an eyewash station or emergency shower be to an electrical panel? Great question.

Michael: That is a great question, and it’s one that I face almost every survey that I do in a plant. Honestly, if one is close enough to that fixture, I will not activate it. I would really strongly, strongly encourage everybody, it’s not really written into the standard, where your equipment is placed other than it being in a particular place that’s close to the hazard that you’re trying to protect workers from.

But I don’t know how many times I’ve been next to a 400-volt electrical box and there’s a shower and eyewash unit that sprays all over it. I was actually in a power plant one time, and that power plant had this shack that had a shower and eyewash unit that was kind of suspect, where they placed it. But right next to it, they had four or five things plugged into an electrical outlet that was open.

It is absolutely imperative that you stay away from those electrical outlets with this equipment. You can cause even more of a problem for yourself if it splashes onto the electrical equipment. Can I tell you how far away that should be? Probably not, but I think common sense can tell you that, if you activate that and you’ve got someone standing under the shower, you’ve got water splashing off of them, and you’ve got water collecting on the floor, I think it needs to be in a reasonably far enough distance to where there would be absolutely no splashing that would touch that particular power outlet.

Jamie: Yes. Thank you, Chelsea, for that question. Great question. Alright, let’s see here, the next question we have. How does a person measure the gallons per minute of a fluid flush? It goes on to talk about how, as the fluid drains out of the tank, the pressure seems to go down. How do they accurately measure the gallons per minute?

Michael: There are certainly products out there that do specific testing on water pressure as well as the volume. I can tell you that when I do an annualized type survey, it’s a really simple method. I mentioned in the webinar that I got drenched properly at eight in the morning, and that was quite an experience. But I was using at the time a shower chute. The shower chutes basically go over the shower head, and they direct it down a gravity feed into a bucket.

Typically, at about the two gallon mark, I put a line in there and count down with a stopwatch after activation, to ensure that there’s at least 20 gallons per minute, based on the amount of time it takes to fill up that bucket, which is usually pretty fast. 20 and 30gpm shower heads that are out there on the market today, they usually don’t give you a lot of time to even activate your stopwatch. The calculation on that can be done pretty quickly, just using that method.

Jamie: Alright, thank you, Mike. We have a couple minutes left. Let’s get a couple more questions in here. Let’s see, Gavin asks testing method, what is required to test and how do you document these tests? Great question, Gavin.

Michael: I’m assuming you’re talking about the ANSI testing. Typically, the testing that you do on a weekly basis is recorded on a card that’s on the unit itself, and that gives you something to show inspectors with OSHA when they come in. But there are other systems, too, that are electronic, even very sophisticated systems where you actually have barcodes on the equipment. You do the activations, do your testing, and it records it into a barcode reader. There’s certain things that that barcode reader has on it, that comply with the standard, and that goes into your system that you’re keeping track on that for, and you can easily show inspectors that particular data.

Jamie: Thank you, Mike. Okay, with one minute left, I’ll get to our last question. Mike, any parting words that you’d like to say before we get to our last question?

Michael: I just really appreciate what you guys do. Thanks so much, again, for this forum. I really appreciate everybody that tuned in today as well. I’m obviously very passionate about this subject, and I know there are others in this industry that are as well. We just want to make sure that people are protected and kept safe and provided for in the event of a real emergency.

Jamie: Alright, thank you. Our lucky winner is Rose Marie, for the last question. She’s talking about when you have visitors coming to a site. What preparations can you make, and how do you let these people know about the eyewash and safety shower locations and procedures when on-site?

Michael: I think this is probably one of the best questions maybe that we’ve got, because I can tell you, when I enter any type of facility, usually I have to go through some type of training to earn my credentials to walk that facility. I rarely ever see anything, maybe once in the past ten years, that I’ve actually seen anything regarding safety showers and eyewashes.

They’ll talk about the PPE that you want everyone to wear for specific parts of the plant, but rarely ever have it in their orientation when you take that. To me, that’s probably the best place, is from the very beginning when you enter a facility, is to make sure that your visitors are trained and have some kind of video or oral presentation that you give them, to make sure that they understand where they’re located and how to activate them.

Jamie: Yes, great call. Great question, Rose Marie. Alright, with that, I really want to thank everybody for attending today’s webinar. Again, without you, these webinars couldn’t happen, so we really, really appreciate your support and hope you found value in today’s webinar. Michael, thank you for taking the time out of your day, but I know that the preparation that went into this was a lot, so thank you for doing this incredible presentation.

Hughes Safety Showers, thank you for sponsoring this webinar, Justrite. Again, you guys are unbelievable. You know who you are, behind the scenes. Without your help, it certainly does take a village to put these together, so we really appreciate everybody’s time. Again, the audience, without you, it wouldn’t be possible.

With that, we’d like to thank everyone again. Take care, and stay safe.

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Written by Mike Bolden | Sales Manager

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Michael Bolden has been passionate about safety for more than 20 years while serving in Product Management, Sales, and Marketing in the Automotive Aftermarket and Industrial Safety Industries. He has been an active member of the ISEA Standards Committees for Z87.1 Eye and Face Standard as well as the Z358.1 Emergency Shower and Eyewash Standard. Michael has had an acute focus on driving compliance and providing innovative solutions to hazardous conditions in the workplace.

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