How to Identify Safe and Effective Emergency Eyewash
Tips and Tricks
By Alexandra Serban
August 06, 2019
Our eyes are susceptible to hazards such as flying objects, dust particles, chemicals and vapors or UV light. In a workplace environment, eye protection comes to the rescue - safety spectacles and googles and if the situation requires, face shields or welding helmets.
National standards and private safety programs also continue to evolve to provide workers with greater levels of protection. Yet, despite safety precautions, accidental exposures can still occur. When they do, minimizing the effects relies on immediate administration of the safest and most effective treatment possible.
Read further for tips on how to choose safe emergency eyewash.
Standard requirements for on-the-spot decontamination
The ANSI Z358.1-2009 standard for “Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment” establishes a universal minimum performance and use requirement for all eyewash and drench shower equipment, when a person’s eyes, face or body is exposed to hazardous materials and chemicals.
Location. The first 10-15 seconds after exposure are critical, so ANSI calls for eyewash stations to be located 10 seconds away from the hazard – this means no stairs, or other obstructions should be in the way. If there’s a high risk of exposure with strong caustics or acids, eyewash should be adjacent to the hazard.
Signage. The area needs to be lit and marked with a visible sign.
Water supply. ANSI requires that the first step following chemical contact of any kind – including caustics, acids, solvents and other hazardous materials – be immediate flushing of the eyes with water. According to the standard, water may be any potable (drinking) water, preserved water, preserved buffered saline solution or other medically acceptable solution.
Water temperature. The eyes should be flushed continuously, for 15 minutes with fluid flowing at a rate of 0.4 gallons per minute for portable and plumbed eyewash stations. And the temperature should be “tepid”, namely between 60-100 degrees F.
As you can see, requirements are strict. Consequently, the quality of the eyewash fluids and their delivery systems should meet high-quality standards. But not all eyewash solutions are equal in content.
Here’s what you need to consider when selecting an eyewash solution.
1. Check for an NDC number. The National Drug Code, a three-segment number, identifies the labeler, product and trade package size. The labeler is the manufacturer or distributor of the drug and it should be FDA-approved. You can also review drug recall information and alerts on the FDA website for signs of unsafe products.
2. Review the list of ingredients. The safest eyewash is made of sterile saline produced from 100% sterile water and which uses salt only to match the PH with the human eye.
3. Choose tamper resistant packaging to ensure safety and purity.
4. Make sure the fluid is fit to be used on the eyes by checking 21 CFR 200.50 in the National Code Directory. This standard applies to ophthalmic-grade products and states that unsterile products fall may be unsafe, according to the FDA.
5. Consider buying US-made products or from countries where inspections are more stringent.
6. Be careful of expiry dates. Products are tested and approved to maintain efficacy for a measured length of time and are approved by the FDA according to those parameters. After time, compounds can change form, packaging can degrade and drugs may lose their ability to perform at safe standards.
7. Renew eyewash solution according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure its sterility and stability. Even in plumbed eyewash stations, the water may contain contaminants such as rust, scale and chemicals. Changing the fluid frequently and cleaning the units regularly can prevent inadvertent use of contaminated fluid.
The dangers of administering non-sterile eyewash can have profoundly negative impacts on injured individuals, as well as their employers. By selecting a reputable manufacturer that supplies FDA-approved, sterile, ophthalmic-grade eyewash, employers benefit from uninterrupted access to a product with superior integrity. When workers recover quickly, companies recover quickly, and the safety benefits of exceptional eyewash are crystal clear.
Honeywell has a wide range of emergency eyewash products and is the company that created the first 100% sterile sealed-fluid cartridge and 100% sterile delivery station, the first self-contained gravity-fed station and the first heated self-contained gravity-fed station.