Eye Wash

Definition - What does Eye Wash mean?

Eye wash is a first aid item that is used at eyewash stations or in first aid kits. It is a cleanser for the eyes used in the event of a chemical eye injury involving acidic or alkaline substances or particles trapped in the eye. The purpose of the eyewash is to flush out harmful substance or particles before they can cause further damage or irritation.

While eye wash is meant primarily to flush out the eyes, it can also be medicated to provide pain or irritation relief, or used to remove dried mucus or discharge from the eyes.

Safeopedia explains Eye Wash

The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) provides standards and regulations for the nature of eye wash, as well as its placement in a workplace, maintenance, and proper use. ANSI states that the first response for chemical eye injury or particles trapped in the eye is flushing the eye with water. According to ANSI's standard, this may be potable water, preserved water, saline solution, or any other medically accepted solution. Local laws may apply to some ingredients.

Eyewash stations must be located near the site of chemical eye hazards. It should take an affected worker no more than 10 seconds to reach the eye wash, which means locating it approximately 55 feet from the work station (assuming there are no major obstructions).

Most eyewash kits consist of purified or preserved water or saline solution and some include pain relief medication or alcohol to aid in cleansing and removing harmful substances.

Employer who wish to know whether they must provide eye wash for their employees can start by reviewing the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the chemicals used in their workplace. The SDS will specify whether eye wash or other safety measures must be in place.

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