OSHA Eye Wash Regulations

By Lisa Chinn
OSHA eye wash regulations are designed to protect workers at risk of getting harmful substances in their eyes.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) designs regulations for employers to help protect employees from getting sick or hurt on the job. OSHA eye wash regulations are designed to protect workers whose eyes are at risk of injury at work. OSHA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.

First Aid Requirement

OSHA requires employers to make sure the workplace has facilities for quick flushing of the eyes if employees work with "injurious corrosive materials." The eyewash should be accessible in the work area so that employees can use it quickly if they get harmful substances in their eyes.

Avoiding Bacteria

To avoid bacteria buildup in eye wash stations, OSHA requires employers to use plumbed eye wash stations rather than self-contained eye wash stations when potable water is available in the workplace. Someone should flush plumbed eye washes at least once a week for at least 3 min. to avoid bacteria buildup in the pipes. In workplaces that must use self-contained eye washes, the water must be replaced weekly.

Response Time

OSHA tells employers to place eye washes so that employees can get to them within 10 seconds of exposure to a hazardous substance.

Water Amount

OSHA regulations require that eye wash stations contain at least 1 gal. of water, and that it be potable water when available or when specifically required.

Specific Industry Requirements

Some workplaces, including construction sites and facilities that service batteries, must have plumbed eye wash facilities with potable water, not self-contained facilities.

Procedures

The employer must establish emergency procedures for eye washing and for employees who have gotten harmful electrolytes on their faces or in their eyes while working with batteries.

About the Author

Lisa Chinn developed her research skills while working at a research university library. She writes for numerous publications, specializing in gardening, home care, wellness, copywriting, style and travel. Chinn also designs marketing materials, holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and is working toward a PhD in cognitive neuroscience.

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