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Repost from Safety & Health article by Tracy Haas
Equipment reliability is imperative
Unlike personal protective equipment such as hard hats and steel-toe boots, emergency eyewashes and showers are not meant to be used every day. Ideally, a worker will never need one. But should an incident such as a chemical splash occur, it’s vital that emergency eyewashes and showers be ready for use.
Because emergency eyewashes and showers are not frequently used, their maintenance may not always be top of mind. “The two most common emergency shower misuses are not providing ANSI-required tepid water and failing to conduct weekly test activations to ensure the units are working,” said Ryan Pfund, senior product manager, emergency fixtures, for Menomonee Falls, WI-based Bradley Corp. Pfund recommends establishing a weekly inspection program to test your company’s eyewash and shower equipment to ensure it is working properly and providing tepid water instantaneously. “Manufacturers provide specially designed devices and materials to assist in testing,” he added.
Nuray Ebel, product manager at Sparks, NV-based Haws, echoed Pfund’s comment that ANSI Z358.1-required weekly testing – although crucial – is often neglected: “The most significant part of the weekly test is the validation that the equipment provides proper first aid to users – not just ensuring water is present.”
Keith Flamich, marketing manager for Chicago-based Guardian Equipment, notes that equipment reliability is imperative. “During incidents where emergency eyewash and shower units are activated, far too much is at stake to depend on equipment that is not properly tested and not third-party certified,” Flamich said.
Emergency eyewashes and showers now have improved flow control and coverage, according to Pfund. “The newest models apply fluid dynamics technology that works with a pressure-regulated flow control to provide an integral and uniform flow of water directed at the affected area,” he said.
Flamich pointed to the increasing popularity of heat-traced freeze-resistant stations in cold-weather environments. “These units are manufactured with a heat-tracing cable wrapped around internal piping to prevent the freezing of standing water within the unit,” he said. “Once activated, a safety station first delivers the standing water before drawing from a tepid water supply.” However, he cautioned that these stations are commonly misunderstood, and people often believe the units are capable of heating a full 15-minute supply of water per the ANSI Z358.1 tepid water requirement. “The reality is that these units heat only the standing water contained within its internal piping prior to unit activation,” Flamich explained. “As such, there must be continuous source of tepid water supplying the heat-traced safety station (i.e., thermostatic mixing valve, tepid water loop, or instantaneous water heater) to meet the ANSI-required 15-minute tepid water flush.”
On a separate note, Ebel spoke of the benefits of using wireless alarm technology for emergency eyewashes and showers. “Wireless transmitters enable control and/or notification from remote areas where wiring or wire maintenance is not physically possible or economically feasible.”