OSHA Warns of Contaminated Eyewash Water
A recent OSHA Infosheet highlights the risk of eye infections from contaminated water in improperly maintained emergency equipment.
OSHA's recent Infosheet highlights the infection hazards that may be present when emergency eyewash stations are improperly maintained. Eyewash facilities are required in workplaces where corrosive chemicals are used (29 CFR 1910.151(c)) and in HIV and HBV research laboratories and production facilities (1910.1030(e)(3)(i)) and "where there is any possibility that an employee’s eyes may be splashed with solutions containing 0.1 percent or greater formaldehyde (1910.1048(i)(3))," while research and production laboratories and medical facilities also may have them.
"How can improperly maintained eyewash stations cause infections? Water found in improperly maintained eyewash stations is more likely to contain organisms (e.g., Acanthamoeba, Pseudomonas, Legionella) that thrive in stagnant or untreated water and are known to cause infections," it states. "When a worker uses an eyewash station that is not maintained, organisms in the water may come into contact with the eye, skin, or may be inhaled. Workers using eyewash stations after exposure to a hazardous chemical or material may have eye injuries that make the eye more susceptible to infection. Also, workers with skin damage or compromised immune systems (e.g., transplant recovery, cancer, lupus) are at increased risk for developing illnesses from contaminated water."
The document recommends complying with the ANSI/ISEA standard, Z358.1-2014, which says plumbed systems should be activated weekly to eliminate these hazards.
"Self-contained eyewash units must be maintained and employers should consult the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance procedures. This includes flushing the system and using only solutions appropriate for flushing eyes," the document states.