When's the last time you had to use your emergency shower? If you have a combination of good luck and a great safety program, chances are it's been a while.

But no matter how long it's been, you need the confidence that your emergency shower and eyewash stations will be ready to deploy if and when an emergency does occur.

One of the best ways to do that is by conducting a facility survey.

What Is an Emergency Shower and Eyewash Facility Survey?

A facility survey is simply a process for testing and evaluating the emergency showers and eyewash stations in your facility to ensure the equipment meets the ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 standard.

This will involve assessing a few specific things, such as where the emergency stations are placed, the temperature of the water they deliver, and the height of the eyewash spray (for related reading, see Be Prepared for Chemical Exposure Emergencies with Eyewash Equipment).

What Does ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 Require?

Here are the key factors to consider when assessing your emergency showers and eyewash stations for compliance with ANSI/ISEA Z358.1

Placement

Where the emergency showers and eyewash stations are placed is in a way the wrong question. The real question is: how far are they from the workers who might need them?

Emergency showers and eyewash stations need to be in an accessible location that workers can reach in no more than 10 seconds.

Accessibility

What does it mean for your showers and eyewashes to be accessible, exactly? First, they have to be on the same level as the hazard. When someone suffers a chemical splash to the eyes, they shouldn't have to run down a flight of stairs to get it flushed out.

Second, the path to the emergency shower or eyewash station has to be free of obstructions. If getting to the emergency shower is like running through an obstacle course, then workers exposed to corrosive substances might not be able to wash them off before they can do serious or permanent damage.

Whether doors count as an obstruction according to the standard depends on the nature of the materials used in the workplace and the construction of the door. If the materials workers might be exposed to is corrosive, then any door is considered an obstruction. According to ANSI Z358.1 Appendix B5, however, if the hazard is not corrosive, there can be one door between the hazard and the emergency station, so long as the door opens in the same direction of the travel as the employee attempting to reach the equipment. The door must also be equipped with a closing mechanism that cannot be locked.

Strong Acids and Strong Caustics

The 10 second rule does not apply for strong acids and strong caustics. Any work stations that makes use or could potentially be exposed to these substances must keep eyewash immediately adjacent to the hazard.

Water Temperature

The water deployed by your emergency showers must be tepid. This isn't just for the comfort of the worker using it. Excessive temperatures (over 38°C or 100°F) can be harmful to the eyes, which introduces a new hazard to the user, while temperatures below 16°C or 60°F can cause hypothermia.

Signage and Lighting

Even a worker who knows the facility like the back of their hand might have a hard time locating the eyewash station when they're in a panic after having been exposed to a harmful substance. They may also be temporarily blind, especially if they experience a chemical splash to both eyes. Your shower and eyewash stations, then, should be very conspicuous and easy to spot.

Signs should clearly indicate the location of the emergency equipment, and it should be placed in a spot with adequate lighting.

Weekly Activation and Regular Inspection

Emergency showers and eyewashes need to be activated weekly for a period long enough to verify proper operations and to ensure that flushing fluid is available.

Self-contained equipment needs to be visually checked according to the manufacturer’s instructions. All emergency equipment needs to be inspected annually to assure conformity with the standard.

Ready When You Need It

Whether you're an HSE manager, a Certified Safety Professional, or an EHS professional, conducting a facility survey is a good way to ensure that your equipment is always at the ready.

A facility survey is a great way to make sure you're up on date on the latest laws, codes, and standards. But above all, it's a great way to keep workers safe.