Eyewash Stations

Q: I have been told several different ways that our facility didn’t have an eye wash station in our janitor’s closet. So, I was told to purchase the single-use portable squeeze bottles, and I installed one in each janitor’s closet. Now, I’m told we can’t use these as they are not ANSI approved. Not all of our janitor’s closets are near an eyewash station, and our chemicals used in these closets are not spillable, and they are located in a locked dispenser. Do I need an eyewash station in every janitor’s closet since the chemical would be diluted with water?

A: Well…Maybe yes and maybe no. It all depends on your organization conducting a risk assessment, which should determine if an eyewash station is necessary.

First, start with a review of the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) of the chemicals used in the work area (i.e. janitor’s closet). Does the SDS say to flush the eyes for 15 minutes? If so, then that is an indicator (but not necessarily a sure bet) that an eyewash station is needed. Next, evaluate the way that staff is using the chemical…. Is there a possibility that the chemical (even if it is diluted) can splash into the eyes of the individual? You make this determination assuming staff will NOT be wearing any PPE eye protection, because humans being the people that they are will eventually not wear their PPE.

If the risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splash into the eyes by chemicals that require 15 minutes of flush, then yes, you do need an eyewash station. The eyewash station needs to be ANSI Z358.1-2014 approved and while most of these are plumbed eyewash stations, there are a few that meet the ANSI standard and are self-contained and cost much less.

The portable squeeze bottles are not an acceptable substitute for an ANSI Z358.1-2014 approved eyewash station, but they are not illegal to have. They can be used as a first-aid device, but usually they are just a red-flag to surveyors that there is something going on here.