Testing for continual operation and functionality of safety showers out in the field or on-site is vital.   This guide outlines areas of operation to check and what to assess when it comes to risk.


  • Test the proper operation of emergency eyewash and shower units on a weekly basis.
  • Conduct annual cleaning, inspection and compliance assessment for every emergency unit.
  • Keep tanks and mechanical parts clean and lubricated, including internal inspections of items such as immersion heater elements.
  • Ensure that each unit is appropriately tagged for documentation of location and testing requirements.
  • Ensure all personnel know where the emergency facilities are located.
  • Ensure all personnel are trained in how to use the emergency facility.
  • Ensure personnel are fully briefed on the potential danger of the hazards within which they are working or working with, including exposure limits and what to do when it comes to decontaminating clothing and the body.
  • Emergency eyewash and shower unit facilities must be installed in work areas where there is high potential for accidents involving corrosive, irritant or toxic substance absorption through skin and eyes.
  • The surrounding area must be well lit area with clear signage.
  • The location of an emergency shower should be no more than a maximum of 10 seconds travel time for an injured person to access. This is approximately 17 meters.
  • There should be nothing to obstruct the pathways leading up to an emergency shower or items stored on top of an eyewash sink.
  • Where operatives are working with extremely hazardous materials an emergency facility needs to be installed immediately adjacent to where they are working.
  • Introduce a tagging process whereby workers themselves can check that an emergency shower has been properly tested and report anything they believe to be unsafe.


For any organisation looking to upgrade or fit new emergency shower facilities a comprehensive risk assessment needs to be carried out.   Important points to be considered include:

  • Don’t settle for products just because of price. Ensure the quality and performance of the unit is suitable for your needs and the needs of your personnel.
  • Check that the water supply pipework is capable of delivering 75 lpm.
  • On self contained units, check that the correct temperature is being maintained, this being under 25°C and above 15.5°C. If the temperature is too hot it can increase the harmful effects of chemicals on the skin. Too cold and it can cause hypothermia plus the correct drenching time may be insufficient as the user will not want to stay under cold water for the recommended 15 minutes.
  • Check on the disposal of the contaminated water. Not only does it need to be disposed of carefully, any pool of water collected on the floor can be a hazard in itself, creating a slippery or icy surface.
  • Check on the size of the employees and check the area that you want to designate for a shower unit and ascertain whether it will provide a suitably sized emergency facility. With the average size of the UK population increasing there needs to be adequate room to accommodate the necessary movement when using the shower. Struggling to quickly strip off contaminated clothing in a restricted area is very difficult, uncomfortable and can exacerbate the problem, especially as part of the space is taken up with an eyebath facility. The recommended ANSI standard of a 34 inches (86.4 cm) cubicle diameter is adequate but not ideal and by increasing the size of a decontamination unit it will provide better protection.
  • Check the siting of the pipe work feeding the shower. With the changing climate, exposed pipe work that would have normally survived the UK winter is no longer adequate and will not meet the recommended standards. This will mean either re-siting the shower unit or lagging the pipework.


As an aid to testing facilities the following should be applied and logged. It must be remembered that regular testing and activation makes the difference between meeting minimum requirements for the installed units and having units that work efficiently in the event of an emergency.


It is recommended that all units be activated on a weekly basis to:

  • Check that they are in operational condition.
  • Clear sedimentation that could clog the water supply line.
  • Flush stagnant water from the plumbed fixtures which reduces the chance of microbial hazards.
  • Document test with dates and initials on unit tag. Facilities managers are responsible to ensure an appropriate tag is on all units.