Safety Shower maintenance is vital. Working in hazardous environments or when working in an environment where there is a potential to come into contact with harmful substances, health & safety standards include the requirement to install an effective drenching device whether this is for the eye, face or whole body.
When it comes to the safety of the workforce, just installing a piece of emergency equipment is not enough. Testing for continual operation and functionality of safety showers out in the field or on site is vital. Educating those who may need to use them is just as important.
Ensure that safety eyewashes and showers supply clean, potable water and are in proper working order an identify who responsible for carrying out inspection, testing and maintenance.
OVERVIEW OF MAINTENANCE RECOMMENDATIONS
- 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 every six months or sooner if required. Check all electrical items for correct and safe operation (remove immersion heater)
- Document each unit giving location and testing requirements
As for the workforce, do they know where the emergency facilities are located? For example, if working outside, it can be time critical that they are aware that a facility is actually available out on-site rather than thinking they have to run to a main building. This also reduces any further spread of the contamination.
Training on how to use the facilities must also be given. Personnel must be briefed on the potential danger of the hazards within which they are working or working with? For example, those in close contact with chemicals and biological hazards need to know and understand exposure limits and what to do when it comes to decontaminating clothing and the body.
When it comes to the siting of emergency eyewash and shower units facilities they must be installed in work areas where there is high potential for accidents involving corrosive, irritant or toxic substance absorption through skin and eyes. There must also be lighting and clear signage.
And finally, every second counts. The location should be no more than a maximum of 10 seconds travel time for an injured person to access. This is approximately 17 meters. Therefore, there should be nothing to obstruct the pathways leading up to an emergency shower or items stored on top of an eyewash bowl. When working with hazardous materials an emergency safety shower must be immediately available.
Carrying out a Risk Assessment
When upgrading or installing new emergency shower facilities a comprehensive risk assessment needs to be carried out. This includes:
- 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
- Self contained units must maintain the correct temperature , 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 body size of the UK population increasing there needs to be adequate room to accommodate the necessary movement when using the shower. 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. 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
Testing Existing Facilities
As an aid to testing facilities the following should be applied and logged.
Weekly Flush Test
- clear sedimentation that could clog the water supply line
- flush stagnate 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
- Monthly Test and Inspection
- Visual inspection of the unit. Look for leaks or pipe damage and proper placement of protective covers prior to testing.
- Ensure that the unit is free of any obstructions.
- Activate unit. Ensure that the water flow is continuous. Evaluate that the unit can maintain flow for 15 minutes, and is not injurious to the user’s eye or face. Valve actuators must activate water flow in one second or less. A controlled flow of flushing fluid must go to both eyes simultaneously
- Sanitize water supply through monthly flushing. In order to relieve the unit of any rust and other pipe build-up, flush the unit until the water runs clear
- Document test with dates and initials on unit tag
- Annual Inspection
- Visual inspection of the unit. Look for leaks or pipe damage and proper placement of protective covers prior to testing
- Ensure that the unit is free of any obstructions
- Empty water completely from the safety shower header tanks and internally clean inside to remove any build-up of algae
- Ensure all directional signage is still in place and clearly visible
- Inspect all electrics to ensure they are fully operational
- Document test with dates and initials on unit tag