Whether you run a small shop or manage safety for a large company, here are the essentials to start thinking about eyewash stations.

As a result of eye injuries, $300 million is spent every year in lost production time, medical expenses and workers’ compensation. So there is no question that the appropriate eyewash equipment and eye-safety practices should be a top priority for any manufacturing company. Questions do arise, however, when it comes to choosing the equipment that best fits your company’s space, work environment and employees.

To alleviate some of that inevitable confusion, here are some of the key factors companies should consider when purchasing and installing eyewash equipment.

Assess the Situation

“A company should first conduct a risk, or hazard, assessment to properly identify all hazards to which their employees may be exposed,” says Keith Flamich, marketing manager at Guardian Equipment, a leading industry resource for emergency eyewash needs. Following that assessment, companies should consider a number of important variables to determine whether a permanent or portable eyewash station is the best solution, including:

  • Access to plumbed water supply
  • Access to tepid water
  • Freeze resistance
  • Corrosion resistance

Review Eyewash Station Regulations

With the potential hazards identified and the worksite capabilities understood, companies should educate themselves on the certifications and regulations for eyewash stations. “The equipment they intend to use should be properly certified to meet standards for emergency eyewash and shower equipment,” says Flamich. 

These two sets of standards are particularly important:

  • Governmental:

    The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide eye and face protection whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards. These can vary by state and industry, so it’s key to familiarize yourself with the latest OSHA regulations applicable to the areas where you operate.

  • Third Party:

    The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees ANSI/ISEA Z87.1, which assesses the performance, design and labeling of eye- and face-safety products, and ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, which is widely considered to be the industry standard for the requirements and inspection protocol of commercial eyewash safety equipment. Here are three keys of ANSI/ISEA Z87.1:​

    • While the standard is considered voluntary, OSHA often uses it as a guide for inspections.
    • Not complying with the ANSI/ISEA standard may result in penalties ranging from fines to plant shutdowns.
    • Areas of focus include plumbed and self-contained eyewash equipment, as well as portable eye- and face-wash units.

Eyewash Stations: When and Why to Go Portable

For some companies, portable eyewash stations can be a safe and effective alternative to plumbed stations, Flamich says, noting that proper equipment certification remains paramount. Here are situations where a portable eyewash station may be the right solution:

  • There’s no access to plumbed water supply.
  • Worksite has hazard areas that lack access to tepid water and are subject to low temperatures.
  • Flexibility is required in terms of placement.

Eyewash Station Maintenance

Keeping a close eye on the condition of your equipment is critical to an optimal and effective eyewash station, according to Flamich, who says these points are most important when it comes to maintenance:

  • Plumbed eyewash stations must be activated weekly to verify proper operation and available flushing fluid.
  • Portable eyewash stations must be inspected weekly to assess whether flushing fluid requires changing.
  • Annual inspections are required to verify that the eyewash stations are in the appropriate location, properly identified and delivering the correct flushing-fluid flow pattern.

Best Practices

With the right equipment in place, Flamich recommends companies keep the following in mind:

  • Eyewash equipment is not a substitute for personal protective equipment (PPE)—protective clothing and eye and face wear—or for the safe handling of hazardous materials.
  • ANSI Z358.1 requires emergency eyewash equipment to be installed within 10 seconds (or 55 feet) from a hazard, but installing it immediately next to the hazard is ideal.
  • Wastewater should be disposed of properly and never introduced into a sanitary sewer.
  • Installing an alarm near the equipment to alert personnel and request assistance can help mitigate the severity of an accident or injury. 

When was the last time you activated your eyewash station?

Talk to Us!

do eyewash bottles of saline count as adequate equipment until the individual can reach a plumbed station?


Hi Deb,
I'm the Safety Specialist for MSC out in California. In my experience hazards are very different based on application and in general, you would need to conduct a site-specific eyewash assessment. In one case, like metal shavings or the like, a personal eyewash bottle might get an employee to the eyewash shower adequately. In another case, with a very strong acid or base, the bottles would not be compliant.
Below is some regulatory information that may help. Should you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
ANSI Z358.1-2009- 16- and 32-oz. bottles are considered personal eyewashes. Personal eyewash units provide immediate flushing and might be used as the employee is making his/her way to an approved emergency flushing station. An approved eyewash station must be able to flush both eyes simultaneously, for 15 continuous minutes, with a minimum flow rate of 0.4 gallons per minute.
ANSI Z358.1- 2014- In general, the ANSI standard provides that emergency equipment be installed within 10 seconds walking time from the location of a hazard (approximately 55 feet) (Appendix B5). The path of travel from the hazard to the equipment should be free of obstructions and as straight as possible. However, there are certain circumstances where these guidelines may not be adequate. Previous versions of the standard expressly provided that, where workers are handling particularly strong acids, caustics or other materials where the consequences of a spill would be very serious, emergency equipment should be installed immediately adjacent to the hazard. Although Appendix B5 of the 2014 standard briefly reviews the proper location of emergency equipment under such scenarios, the older standards, in certain circumstances, may still be correct. Water temperature must also be addressed, so please keep that in mind.
Comply with The Federal OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151(c), but check your state standards if they differ.
Also, here are some articles, along with this one, to read for further information-


Is weighing a portable eyewash station is an acceptable way to PM it. This is the air on water type. This is to determine if it has a sufficient water charge in it.


Hi Gordon,

Thanks for your question. You could weigh it, as long as you have an initial weight, when the station was first installed and filled, to compare it to. Only visual inspections are needed to make sure there is no damage to the unit, water level is proper (could be done with a mark of some sort), and that water is changed every 6 months with a new additive or to the manufacturer's specs.

Take care,

Damon Cassell
Safety Specialist, MSC


How much space is required around an eyewash station from obstructions for access from the front or on the sides ?


If you reference the comment to Deb above, it lines out the requirements for eyewash accessibility.
" ANSI Z358.1- 2014- In general, the ANSI standard provides that emergency equipment be installed within 10 seconds walking time from the location of a hazard (approximately 55 feet) (Appendix B5). The path of travel from the hazard to the equipment should be free of obstructions and as straight as possible. However, there are certain circumstances where these guidelines may not be adequate... "
"As straight as possible.." means a straight line from the hazard to the eyewash station with no obstructions or turns. In a practical sense, I like to explain it like this: go near where the hazard is located, squint your eyes so you can barely see and pretend you are in a lot of pain, then evaluate if it is realistic for you to get to the eyewash station unaided in at least 10 seconds or less. If not, make changes as needed.


Can you tell me what the placement requirements are, such as how far from the flood the emergency eyewash station needs to be?


Hi Jackie,

Please read the question and answer above from "Anonymous" for the regulations as far as eyewash station placement is concerned. I hope this answers your question.



For maintenance of the eye wash, beside the 15 minute flush is there any other OSHA regulation in regards to cleaning it weekly?


Hi Ann,

There is no specific requirement to "cleaning" the unit. The standard requires that the unit is functional and compliant. And, in general, it would follow that there should be no way for the eyewash station to introduce anything that could injure the employee like debris or hot/cold water versus tepid water. The proper cleaning and maintenance is usually found in the Paperwork provided with the unit from the manufacturer which often include a weekly checklist. If the unit is stand-alone the ANSI requirement for inspection is weekly.



Can a filter be installed on the water supply line to eye wash station


Hi Jim,
Potentially, once can install an approved filter for your eyewash station as long as it does not impede the proper flow rate (3 gallons/15 min) of water. As a best practice, make sure you include the filter as part of the full inspection and PM process. Also, keep in mind that some manufacturers include a particulate spray head water filter in their plumbed units.


Can I use copper pipe to install a eyewashe or it has to be ss pipe ?


What are the ramifications of a galvanized pipe eyewash?  Should I be worrying about internal rust and possibly introducing it into someone’s eyes??  
I am exploring options to repipe using copper since it is anti microbial in nature.  
But seeking guidance to come to an answer on whether galvanized is wrong, and if so why is that how the units are manufactured? 


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