If an employee has an accident at work involving their eyes, an emergency eyewash station can protect them from serious eye damage or vision loss. In fact, eyewash stations are required at any workplace where chemicals are present that are toxic, and may cause corrosion, severe irritation, or permanent tissue damage. Do your employees know how to use an eyewash station in an emergency?

What your employees need to know about emergency eyewash stations

Where the stations are located. All eyewash stations should be reachable within 10 seconds of where your employees work with chemicals.

The type(s) of eyewash stations at the workplace. Emergency eyewash stations can be plumbed into the wall or provided as stand-alone stations with eyewash solution tanks or bottles.

How to use the eyewash stations. Make sure they know how to activate the foot and/or hand lever to start the water flowing or how to use portable eyewash bottles.

What your employees need to do when using an eyewash station

Flush the eyes for at least 15 minutes. For plumbed-in stations, water should flow for this amount of time once activated. During the process:

  • Hold the eyelids open while the water flows over the eyeballs.
  • Roll the eyes all around so the water touches all surfaces and gets under the eyelids.
  • Wash both eyes, even if it’s believed only one was contaminated.
  • For those wearing contact lenses, remove these during the flushing.
  • Don’t try to dislodge objects from the eye.
  • Don’t rub the eyes.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What to cover at your safety meeting about eyewash stations

Review with your employees where the eyewash stations are located and the type of eyewash available at your workplace. For plumbed-in stations, take the time to demonstrate where the controls are and how to operate them. For portable eyewash bottles, review how to discharge the eyewash solution into the eyes.

Remind your employees to flush the eyes for at least 15 minutes.

As part of this safety discussion, make sure to emphasize  the importance of using safety glasses or other eye protection whenever working with chemicals.

Working with chemicals can be hazardous to the eyes. Make sure your employees know where to find and how to use the eyewash facilities at your workplace.