Portable Eye Wash Stations

I was out all last week and when I returned to my office I was inundated with comments (complaints, really) as to why the portable squeeze bottles are not a good idea for a first-aid eye care for staff to use as they walk to the ANSI approved Z358.1 eye wash stations which are plumbed. Forgive me if this is not a Life Safety Code issue, but it certainly is an issue that facility managers in healthcare organizations must deal with.

The placement and eventual use of the portable hand-held squeeze bottles for first-aid eye care are certainly not a violation of any Life Safety Code, Joint Commission, or OSHA compliance standard. However, they present a serious problem for various reasons.

They are a ‘red flag’ for any surveyor or inspector as 90% of these portable first-aid eye care squeeze bottles are placed in locations (and in lieu of) where an ANSI approved Z358.1 eye wash plumbed station would be required. Therefore, a surveyor is used to writing findings for non-compliant eye wash stations when they see the squeeze bottles. What often happens, the organization wants to provide as much emergency care equipment as they can in the event a staff member splashes something caustic or corrosive into their eye, but they don’t want to spend the $500 – $1,000 required to installed the proper ANSI Z358.1 approved station. If the organization decides that a squeeze bottle should be mounted at any specific location, then that is a pretty sure bet that an ANSI Z358.1 approved eye wash station (plumbed) should be installed in the first place. It usually is a decision made from ignorance, where a manager or supervisor wants the best for their employee, but may not have the authority or wherewithal to have a $1,000 eye was station installed.

When the portable squeeze bottles are installed, they often times are ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’. Even though they are mounted on the wall, in plain view, staff eventually loses track of them and forgets they are there. The expiration date of the water solution in the bottles are about 2-years, if memory serves me correctly. When staff forgets those bottles are there, then they don’t replace the bottles when they expire. A surveyor will see them very easily as they are mounted out in the open and in plain view, and an expired bottle of water solution will create another round of findings. Also, the worst case scenario is a staff member grabbing an expired eye wash bottle and causing more damage to their eyes with water that may have bacteria growing in it.

Can an organization overcome these scenarios that I have stated? Sure, but it is not likely, and my recommendation is to not start down this slippery slope and do not install portable eye was squeeze bottles. The organization should bite the bullet and pay the $500 – $1,000 each to have an approved eye wash station installed where they are required.

Take a look at the ANSI approved Z358.1 eye wash station to the left. It does not have to be plumbed to a sink or drain. It can be mounted by itself, and an alternate plan to catch the water when it washes onto the floor can be used, such as sand-bags and a mop and bucket.  These types of eye was stations are not that expensive to purchase. Take a look at the Lab Safety or Grainger catalogues to find them.