Install and Maintain Emergency Fixtures to Reduce Workplace Accidents

Man wearing safety gear working in a construction area

The workplace can be a dangerous place, especially in work environments that contain hazardous materials – such as gases and chemicals.

Workers can experience injuries to the eyes, the skin, and the limbs, and they may even be involved in fatal workplace accidents.

Every employer is legally obliged to provide employees with a setting that is safe and free from potential hazards; if they do not follow regulations that address such issues, they could face penalties or even lose their businesses.

A good way to minimize the possibility of accidents and their effects is to install emergency fixtures in key areas of the workplace – especially in areas that are utilized to store and use hazardous substances.

Maintain a Checklist Related to Emergency Features

Employers need to be sure that their workers know where the emergency features of their work settings are. They should also be trained on how to correctly handle hazardous materials, as well as how to properly use emergency equipment; such equipment should be tested for functionality on a weekly basis.

At worksites where hazardous substances and chemicals are used or present, emergency fixtures such as eyewash equipment or drench showers should be installed.

Testing Equipment and Training Employees

Workers must be educated on how to identify emergencies. They should also learn how to test emergency equipment, so they know exactly how to use it when it’s needed. In order to be certain that such equipment will work properly, employers should adhere to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines on yearly and weekly testing practices.

Identification and Location of Emergency Equipment

According to ANSI standards, the areas where emergency equipment is provided must be adequately lit, and every fixture must have an easily recognizable sign so that it can be identified immediately.

Fixtures that have safety-yellow coating may be located quickly. The standards on such matters mandate that the necessary equipment be accessible with 10 seconds or 55 feet of a hazardous occurrence. Additionally, fixtures must be positioned directly adjacent to areas where caustics or strong acids are used.

Requirements Concerning Water

Crisis equipment must offer a sufficient water flow, as well as the right water temperature and pressure.

A 15-minute flow of water that is tepid to the touch should be supplied to the fixtures, and an incoming water temperature of between 60 and 100 degrees is recommended.

Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) should combine cold and hot water to reach a certain set point, and they are an effective option for occasions when emergency fixtures require the delivery of tempered water.

The water pressure for eyewashes and drench showers must be at least 30 pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI) for each unit. The minimum flow rate mandated by ANSI is at least 20 gallons per minute (GPM) when delivered to drench showers, 3.0 GPM for face washes, and 0.4 GPM for eyewashes.

Since the rate of flow can vary according to the product, manufacturers should be consulted for verification of proper flow rates. The water supplied to a unit needs to support at least a 15-minute flow of flushing fluid.

How to Select the Right Equipment

Choosing the right features for a particular work setting may be determined by considering a variety of factors. Such details as privacy, as well as whether a worksite is indoors or outdoors, should have some bearing on which fixtures are utilized.

In some cases, portable equipment may be needed. Features created for tight areas may be the best choice when space is limited.

Such equipment might include eyewash and drench shower units that have been recess-mounted.

Privacy Considerations

When employees come into dangerous contact with hazardous materials, they need to be able to undress quickly in order to flush the contaminants from their skin. To provide privacy for such individuals in the workplace, employers can place curtains around eyewash units and drench showers.

Outdoor Worksites

When worksites are outside, portable fixtures are typically needed. This is especially true in locations that do not have plumbed water, as well as outdoor worksites in areas that have very cold climates. Employers might choose from a broad assortment of equipment that is portable, such as stainless steel, pressurized eyewashes. Gravity-fed eyewashes may also be another portable option to use for outdoor worksites.

No matter how many precautions are taken in a work environment, serious injuries may still occur. This is why quick response should always be possible. When the right safety and emergency equipment are installed, readily available, and can be identified immediately, the effects of workplace accidents may be minimized.

Employers should always know the applicable ANSI standards and guidelines, and they should provide their workers with safety training to help prevent accidents from occurring.

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