Safety Shower Solutions in Freezing and Challenging Work Environments
Chemicals pose a significant threat to worker safety, so there must be protocols in place and proper equipment available to prevent harm while on the job.
- By Ryan Pfund
- Feb 01, 2021
Working with corrosive chemicals, materials and contaminants poses serious health and safety challenges which can often be mitigated with the proper use of emergency shower and eye wash equipment. However, add in cold weather variables like sub-zero temperatures, snow and freezing rain to the application, and the prospect of delivering heated water becomes much more complicated.
The list of uncontrollable environmental factors that impact plumbed safety shower equipment isn’t limited to freezing weather. There is a long list of other worksite extremes—like explosive gases, high heat and salt-laden conditions—that can also impede optimal performance.
Still, when chemical and safety hazards exist, even the most challenging worksite environments must have emergency eyewashes and drench showers that meet certain requirements.
Why Tepid Water?
Specifically, the ANSI/ISEA Z358.1–2014 American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment requires that emergency eyewashes and drench showers deliver tepid water (60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and supply enough flushing fluid for a duration of 15 minutes. Water must be delivered at 20 GPM for the shower and .4 GPM for the eyewash simultaneously to help remove particulates while soothing chemical burns and preventing chemical absorption.
Tepid water temperature for emergency safety fixtures is crucial in getting workers to use them for the entire washdown period. Imagine having to use untempered water from a safety shower or eyewash unit while working indoors, or even worse, outdoors on a cold day. It is nearly impossible for most people to sustain a full washdown with cold water. In fact, some experts believe that human tolerance for showering with untempered water is about three minutes—a far cry from the 15-minute washdown. Flushing with cold water for a long period of time can even lead to hypothermia. Therefore, a dependable delivery system of on-demand tepid water is a must for encouraging a full flush of hazardous chemicals and materials from the eyes and/or body.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.