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The selection of emergency showers and eyewash equipment is often a complicated process. In addition to addressing design and engineering issues, specifiers must be aware of regulatory requirements and compliance standards.
Emergency eyewash and shower units are designed to deliver water to rinse contaminants from a user’s eyes, face or body. As such, they are a form of first aid equipment to be used in the event of an accident. However, they are not a substitute for primary protective devices (including eye and face protection and protective clothing) or for safe procedures for handling hazardous materials.
A common reference point when selecting emergency equipment is ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, “Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment.” This standard is a widely accepted guideline for the proper selection, installation, operation and maintenance of emergency equipment.
Some important design and safety consideration should allow for the following:
Plumbed emergency equipment must be connected to a potable water supply line. It may be advisable to install a shut off valve on the water line, upstream of the unit, to facilitate maintenance of the equipment. If a shut off valve is installed, provision must be made to prevent unauthorized closure of the shut off valve. Such provision can include removing the handle of the shut off valve or locking the valve in the open position. Only maintenance personnel should be authorized to place a handle on or unlock the valve.
Once connected to a water supply line, water will enter the emergency equipment and stand in the unit up to the valve(s). When activated, water will flow through the entire unit. Therefore, the unit must be constructed of materials that will not corrode when exposed to water for extended periods of time. In addition to this general provision, the standard specifically requires that valves be resistant to corrosion. Emergency equipment should therefore be constructed of materials that will resist rusting and corrosion. Materials that are considered acceptable for this purpose include brass, galvanized steel and many types of plastics (ABS, nylon, etc.). However, these materials may not provide durable service when exposed to harsh industrial conditions, may deteriorate in direct sunlight or be subject to other limitations.
Therefore, for maximum durability, the following materials should also be considered:
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