The importance of emergency showers and eye wash stations in the workplace

July 31, 2023

In work environments where chemical substances are handled, or where there is a risk of eye injuries, emergency showers and eye wash stations are essential and sometimes life-saving safety measures. These showers play a central role in reducing the risk of injuries and providing a rapid response in case of accidents. The Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) has issued regulations in the Swedish Work Environment Authority's Code of Statutes (AFS) that govern the use of emergency showers and eye wash stations to ensure a safe working environment.

Emergency showers - lifesavers in times of need
According to AFS 1999:7 "Use of Emergency Showers and Eye Wash Stations," emergency showers are designed to quickly and effectively respond to accidents where individuals come into contact with hazardous substances. These showers are sized to rinse chemicals or harmful particles from the body and thus reduce the risk of serious injuries. Emergency showers should be placed close to work areas where hazardous substances are used or handled, and they should be easy to find and access during emergencies.

According to AFS 2005:16 "Chemical Work Environment Risks," the employer is required to conduct a risk assessment to identify hazardous substances and determine the need for emergency showers. These showers must also be designed to be easy to activate, so that injured personnel can act immediately in the event of an accident.

For more information from a Nordic company that manufactures emergency shower products, visit: https://giapremix.fi/hatasuihkut/.

Eye wash stations - swift relief for eye injuries
AFS 1999:7 also regulates the use of eye wash stations. These stations are specifically designed to provide quick relief in cases of exposure to hazardous substances that may cause eye injuries. Upon contact with chemicals or harmful particles, eye wash stations can be used to immediately flush away the substances and thereby reduce the risk of serious eye injuries.

According to AFS 2005:16, the employer is required to provide eye wash stations in workplaces where there is a risk of eye injuries. These stations should be easily accessible and easy to use, allowing personnel to quickly respond to accidents that may affect the eyes.

Design and accessibility of emergency showers and eye wash stations
According to AFS 1999:7 and AFS 2005:16, it is important that emergency showers and eye wash stations are properly designed and easily accessible. These showers should be placed so that they are not blocked by obstacles or objects, and they should be clearly marked to be easy to find during emergencies. The employer should ensure that the staff is well informed about the location and use of the shower equipment.

Additionally, according to AFS 1999:7, the employer must ensure that emergency showers and eye wash stations have sufficient water supply and pressure to ensure that the shower can provide a powerful and effective rinsing action when used. The showers must also be regularly checked and maintained to ensure that they function as intended in an emergency situation.

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Training and Preparedness
According to AFS 1999:7 and AFS 2005:16, it is essential for all personnel working with hazardous substances or in risk-filled work environments to undergo training on the use of emergency showers and eye wash stations. The staff should be well aware of when and how to use these showers during various types of accidents or exposures.

According to AFS 2005:16, regular exercises and simulations of emergency situations should be conducted to ensure that the personnel are prepared and can act quickly and effectively in a real accident. Additionally, the employer should appoint responsible individuals who are in charge of conducting checks and maintenance of emergency showers and eye wash stations according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Regulations and Compliance
To ensure a safe working environment, it is essential for employers to comply with the regulations and rules governing the use of emergency showers and eye wash stations according to AFS 1999:7 and AFS 2005:16. This means that the employer must conduct risk assessments, provide appropriate showers, ensure they are correctly placed and marked, and ensure that the staff is trained in their use.

In conclusion, emergency showers and eye wash stations are critical tools for protecting personnel from injuries and exposure to hazardous substances in the work environment. Through proper design, accessibility, training, and compliance with regulations from the Swedish Work Environment Authority, companies and organizations can ensure a prompt and effective response in emergency situations, creating a safer work environment for all employees.

The difference between emergency showers in Nordic countries and internationally
Emergency showers are vital safety measures in workplaces across borders. However, there are differences in their design and usage between Nordic countries and internationally.

In Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland), strict regulations govern emergency showers' placement, design, and maintenance, ensuring a safe work environment.

Internationally, regulations and practices vary. Some countries have similar strict rules, while others may have more general guidelines or none at all. One difference is the requirement for tempered water in Nordic countries, which is not mandatory according to Swedish regulations.

Internationally, emergency showers are regulated by various standards and guidelines to ensure workplace safety. Some of the key regulations include:

  1. ANSI Z358.1: This American National Standard establishes the minimum performance and maintenance requirements for emergency eyewash and shower equipment.
  2. European Standard EN 15154: This standard specifies the requirements for emergency safety showers and eyewash equipment in Europe.
  3. Australian Standard AS 4775: This standard provides guidelines for the selection, installation, and maintenance of emergency eyewash and shower equipment in Australia.
  4. International Organization for Standardization (ISO): ISO develops international standards for a wide range of products, including emergency showers.
  5. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): In the United States, OSHA sets workplace safety standards, and employers are required to comply with their guidelines, including those related to emergency showers.
  6. Health and Safety Executive (HSE): In the United Kingdom, the HSE provides guidelines and regulations for workplace safety, which may include requirements for emergency showers.

These regulations aim to ensure that emergency showers are properly designed, located, and maintained to provide prompt and effective responses to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances and reduce the risk of injuries.

In conclusion, adhering to both national and international guidelines is crucial to ensure workplace safety. Understanding these differences empowers companies to maintain a secure environment for their employees globally.

Sources:
https://www.av.se/en/work-environment-work-and-inspections/publications/foreskrifter/
https://www.elsakerhetsverket.se/fragor-och-svar/arkiv-fragor/Foreskrifter-for-noddusch/
https://hatasuihkut.com/

 

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