It's an event no one wants to experience, having to hold their eyes open while an eyewash pounds them with flushing fluid, yet at the same time experiencing a burning sensation from the chemical that has splashed onto their face. There's panic, confusion, fright, and many other emotions … none of which come in handy during the situation.
That's why employers must provide eyewash stations where workers are exposed to injurious corrosive materials. And those stations must be in near proximity to the workers. And, importantly, workers must know where they are, how to use them, and what to expect should they ever have to use them.
Ideally, workers would always wear safety goggles when exposed to hazardous chemicals and those goggles would adequately protect the worker. But, employers can't rely on that protection alone — there will be times when the chemical gets through the goggles for some reason, or the worker isn't wearing goggles when something unexpected occurs. In those cases, an adequate eyewash is a must.
OSHA says a plumbed or self-contained eyewash unit that meets the specifications of ANSI Z358.1 would be compliant. ANSI Z358.1 is an American National Standard that provides specifications for the design, testing, maintenance, and use of emergency eyewash and shower facilities. Important to note, the ANSI standard does not consider a personal wash unit (e.g., eyewash bottle) to be an adequate primary eyewash.