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Eye safety – Eyewash stations and eye flushing.

A real eye-opener, especially when it happens to you.

Your eyes are vulnerable to many types of contaminants:

• Chemical exposure
• Chlorine
• Pollen
• Loose foreign objects
• Saw dust particles
• Paint & solvents

OSHA 1910.151 (c) states:

“Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided and within the work area for immediate emergency use.”

An eyewash station must:

• be marked with universal type signage symbol to be recognized regardless of language.
• be located within a 10 second walk from site of exposure
• be in a well-lit area and clear of any obstructions
• be able to be operated with one hand in a single motion within one second
• be “tepid”. Too cold, risk hypothermia – too warm, can speed up a chemical reaction.
• Be flushed within the guidelines of such eye wash station

o Self-contained cartridges typically have a 2-year shelf life
o Gravity fed units need a flush and preservative change every 4 months.

Scenario: Paint splatters into your eyes

  1. Do not delay – go directly to an eyewash station
  2. Begin the flush process
  3. Hold your eyes wide open with your fingers
  4. Look all around, rolling your eyes
  5. Continue the flush for the full 15 minutes
  6. If you wear contacts, remove them at this time
  7. Seek medical help

Eye wash solution (eye saline) is offered in many sizes ranging from 1 ounce to 32-ounce bottles. Your first aid cabinet should host at least a 4-ounce bottle of sterile eyewash and also an 8-ounce bottle of eye/skin flushing solution. Personal Eyewash stations holding 2 – 3 bottles of 16 to 32 ounces of sterile flushing solution may be mounted on any wall, providing a quick option when no eyewash station is near.

And just because those bottles of eyewash are sealed doesn’t mean that it remains usable. A bottle of eyewash has a shelf life of about 2 years. Always check the expirations dates on your bottles. If ever you see the seal broken, and partially used, discard it immediately.

You only have one set of eyes. With proper safety precautions like implementing safety glasses or goggles when around potential hazards, and having emergency eyewash stations and bottles of eyewash close-by, will assure that your eyes will be taken care of properly and swiftly in an emergency.

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