Emergency Showers

imagesRFIMRIFGEmergency showers are often found in hospital laboratories and at times, in plant operation areas. There seems to be some confusion about emergency showers and eyewash stations, and what is acceptable to the accreditation organizations. To be sure, there are no standards that are being enforced by a national authority over hospitals that are specific to emergency showers and eyewash stations. Even OSHA does not rigidly enforce a specific set of rules concerning these emergency first-aid devices, although they do refer to ANSI Z358.1-2009 as a guide.

George Mills, director of engineering for The Joint Commission recently commented during a meeting of hospital engineers that they (Joint Commission) do not rigidly enforce the guidelines in ANSI Z358.1-2009. Joint Commission only requires a monthly water-flow test for an unspecified amount of time, and then it appeared to only apply to eyewash stations.

A lot has been written about eyewash stations (search: eyewash), but not so much for emergency showers. What should a hospital do in regards to testing and inspecting an emergency shower? In order to be prepared for any inspection by an authority who may enforce the full requirements of ANSI Z358.1-2009, here are the basics concerning emergency showers:

There are two types of Emergency Showers:

  • Plumbed Shower:      An emergency shower permanently connected to a source of potable water
  • Self-Contained Shower:      A shower that contains its own flushing fluid, and must be refilled or      replaced after use

 The specifications below are for plumbed showers only.

  • Heads
    • Positioned 82″-96″ from floor
    • Spray pattern will have a minimum diameter of 20″ at 60″ above the floor
    • Flow Rate equals 20 gallons per minute (GPM) at 30 pounds per square inch (PSI)
    • The center of the spray pattern shall be located at least 16 inches from any obstruction
  • Valves
    • Activate in one second or less
    • Stay-open valve (no use of hands)
    • Valve remains on until the user shuts it off
  • Installation
    • Emergency Shower shall be located in an area that requires no more than ten seconds to reach.
    • Shower location shall be in a well-lit area and identified with a sign
    • Shower shall be located on the same level as the hazard
  • Maintenance and Training
    • Plumbed emergency showers will be activated weekly to verify correct operation
    • All employees who might be exposed to a chemical splash shall be trained in the use of the equipment
    • All showers shall be inspected annually to make sure they meet with ANSI Z358.1 requirements