Emergency Safety Shower and Eyewash Stations
When you think about working in a laboratory, studio or shop where chemical, biological or mechanical hazards are present, your thought process should take you to the thought of “What will happen if…”. What will happen if my experiment blows up? What will happen if I drop my paint and it splatters in my face? What will happen if a piece of metal or wood comes off of the saw and hits my eye or my coworker’s eyes?
The reason that you have emergency safety showers and eyewash stations in your laboratories and shop areas is to allow you to wash contaminants off your body and out of your eyes. When you have been exposed to something, the first thing you think about is that you need to get this stuff off of you. It seems simple. But what if you go to the eyewash station and the water doesn’t come out?
One of our responsibilities is to check emergency safety shower and eyewash stations around campus to ensure that they are working properly. An eyewash close to a sink is easy for the user to check and should be done once a week. Emergency shower/eyewash combinations are a little more difficult to check. Look for the tag attached to the pipe. Please email us if there isn’t a tag or if the unit hasn’t been checked in the last year.
A properly operating emergency shower will have a flow rate of 20 gallons per minute at 30 pounds per square inch. An eyewash should have a flow rate of 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes at 30 pounds per square inch. That’s a lot of water, but that’s what it will take to minimize the damage should you ever come in contact with certain hazards in the workplace.
One more thing – if you are dowsed with a chemical and your clothes are soaked, you will need to remove them on the way to the shower. Yell for help. Someone will show up with a lab coat for you to put on after your shower or an extra pair of clothes that you have in your locker. Throw modesty out of the window, because a few minutes in the shower in your skivvies could very easily make the difference between first, second and third degree burns!
Please don’t hesitate to contact Vanessa Keel Biggers with questions or concerns about emergency safety showers and eyewash stations.
Vanessa Keel Biggers
Chemical Safety Manager
Avoid Eyestrain When Using Your Computer Monitor
The EHS office routinely receives inquires regarding eyestrains mainly due to lighting and computer usage. Working at a computer for extended periods of time can lead to eye discomfort and blurry vision. Eyestrain symptoms include burning, redness, dryness, blurry vision, uneven vision or eye coordination, halo effects and/or headaches.
To minimize eye-strain, OSHA recommends these simple actions be taken:
- Visit your optometrist annually. Talk about the amount of time you spend at a computer, and obtain glasses or contact lenses that are appropriate for computer use.
- If possible, adjust the room’s lighting so it is neither too dim nor too bright.
- If possible, use incandescent rather than fluorescent bulbs.
- Adjust the monitor’s contrast to a comfortable setting. If the monitor is exposed to glare from windows or lights, consider a glare filter.
- If possible, take a 10-minute break for every hour spent at the computer.
- Use lubricating drops if your eyes are dry.
Eye safety begins at home. These helpful tips will undoubtedly enhance occupational comfort while performing your duties. Please contact our office if you would like to have your work area evaluated.
Safeguard your eyes. They are one of your most valuable assets!
See you around campus!
Gerald C. Donaldson, REM
Eye Safety Checklist
|Create a safe work environment
Minimize hazards from falling or unstable debris.
Make sure that tools work and safety features (machine guards) are in place.
Make sure that workers (particularly volunteers) know how to use tools properly.
Keep bystanders out of the hazard area.
- Evaluate safety hazards.
- Identify the primary hazards at the site.
- Identify hazards posed by nearby workers, large machinery, and falling/shifting debris.
- Wear the proper eye and face protection.
- Select the appropriate Z87 eye protection for the hazard.
- Make sure the eye protection is in good condition.
- Make sure the eye protection fits properly and will stay in place.
- Use good work practices.
- Caution—Brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats, hair, forehead, or the top of the eye protection before removing the protection.
- Do not rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing.
- Clean eyewear regularly.
- Prepare for eye injuries and first aid needs.
- Have an eye wash or sterile solution on hand.
Eye Safety --Protect Them or Lose Them
Each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. Thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection. According to Department of Labor (DOL) Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.
The majority of these injuries result from small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye. Examples include metal slivers, wood chips, dust, and cement chips that are ejected by tools, wind blown, or fall from above a worker. Some of these objects, such as nails, staples, may result in a permanent loss of vision. Large objects may also strike the eye/face, or a worker may run into an object causing blunt. Injuries can also result from chemical burns to one or both eyes from splashes of chemicals or cleaning products. Among welders, their assistants, and nearby workers, UV radiation burns (welder’s flash) routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue. In addition to common eye injuries, health care workers, laboratory staff, janitorial workers, animal handlers, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases via ocular exposure.
Eye and face protection should be used to protect against physical, chemical, radiological or mechanical hazards. Engineering controls are the best strategies for reducing eye injuries and to protect against ocular infection exposures. However, such controls are not always feasible or practical. In absence of engineering controls, personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full face respirators should be used whenever an eye hazard exists. The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the nature and extent of the hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and personal vision needs.
Places on campus with recognized and potential eye hazards include – science labs, visual art studios, mechanical rooms, maintenance shops, storage rooms and janitorial closets, among others.
March is Vision Wellness Month
More than 50% of computer users experience eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and other visual symptoms related to sustained use of the computer. This type of stress on the visual system can also cause body fatigue and reduced efficiency (Grossman, M. 2010).
Here are 10 steps to relieve computer eye strain
- Get a comprehensive eye exam. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), computer users should have an eye exam before they start working on a computer and once a year thereafter.
- Use proper lighting. Eye strain is often cause by excessively bright light from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or fluorescent tubes. Try closing your blinds or drapes and using lower wattage light bulbs when possible.
- Minimize glare. Consider using an anti-glare screen on monitors, cover windows or use a hood for desk top computers. Anti-glare screen protectors are available for laptops, Mac books, iPads, and most electronic devices.
- Upgrade your display. If you are using a desk top with an old monitor, upgrade it to an LCD monitor.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen. Adjust the display setting on your computer so the brightness of the screen is about the same of the room you are in. Some devices allow you to customize and store favorites.
- Blink more often. Blinking rewets your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.
- Exercise your eyes. Focusing fatigue is another cause of eye strain. Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 ft away) for at least 20 seconds. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule.
- Take frequent breaks. To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back, and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day. According to a recent NIOSH study, discomfort and eye strain were significantly lower when computer workers took four additional five minute “mini-breaks” throughout their day.
- Modify your workstation. Purchase ergonomic furniture and position yourself 20-24 inches from your computer screen.
- Consider computer eyewear. For the greatest comfort at your computer, you may benefit from having your eye care professional modify your eyeglasses prescription to create customized computer glasses.