Inspecting and maintaining eyewashes and showers

Date Posted: 09/08/2020
Eyewash Station

If you are required to have an emergency eyewash or shower, you hope that workers never need to use it. If someone needs it, however, the unit must function properly. To ensure proper functioning, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) says that this equipment must be routinely inspected and maintained. The ANSI Z358.1 standard offers detailed guidance.

Weekly inspections

Self-contained units need to be visually inspected each week to determine if the fluid needs to be changed, or if more fluid must be added. When needed, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding fluid.

Plumbed units need to be tested weekly for a period long enough to verify that they operate properly and ensure that flushing fluid is readily available. Sediment build-up can prevent fluid from being delivered. Testing also helps remove any microbial contamination that may be present due to stagnant water.

ANSI says to run units for at least three minutes. Still, the duration of the test depends on the volume of water in the unit itself in the sections of pipework that are not part of the constant circulation system. Water in these sections is stagnant until a flow is activated by opening a valve. You want to completely flush out any stagnant water.

For a combination unit, the eyewash and shower must operate both individually and simultaneously. Otherwise, the unit considered non-functional and must be repaired or replaced.


When plumbed or self-contained eyewash units aren’t properly maintained, contamination of the water supply from dust, chemicals, and atmospheric conditions can cause units to seize up, or rust could make the units inoperable.

ANSI says that a more thorough annual inspection should be performed to ensure that units are maintained per the manufacturer’s instructions. For example, there is a specific spray pattern that must be emitted from eyewashes to ensure proper flushing. These and other details need to be checked each year.

Finally, employers may want to perform preventive maintenance on eyewash units by covering them to prevent dust buildup or other issues caused by the work environment. Covers cannot be used unless they are specifically designed and installed to the eyewash manufacturers’ specifications, or don’t require a separate action to remove the cover when the eyewash is activated. An alternative cover, like a shower cap, may only be used when it’s automatically removed upon activation.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

In addition to the inspections required by OSHA, employers should consider regular inspections of other workplace areas and procedures. The Audits area of the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE has more than 100 pre-built inspection checklists to help you evaluate your safety status and quickly implement corrective actions to ensure the well-being of your business and employees. Topics cover everything from accident prevention to warehousing.

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