January 18, 2019
Workers who regularly handle chemicals and other dangerous substances are at the greatest risk of sustaining eye injuries. However, thousands of workers across many industries are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Employers should provide workers with both the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard against eye injury accidents, and OSHA-compliant eyewash stations to help minimize injury in case they occur.
Importance of Eyewash Stations in the Workplace
Under the General Duty Clause of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have a duty to provide workers with safe and healthful work environments that are free from known hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. However, despite employers’ and workers’ best efforts, accidents can still happen.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 20,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace each year, resulting in over $300 million in medical expenses and other associated costs.
Every second following exposure to a hazardous substance counts; the first ten to 15 seconds are the most critical. Flushing the affected eye with water can greatly minimize injury; therefore, it is imperative that adequate eyewash stations be readily available in the workplace.
OSHA requires certain types of workplaces to have eyewash stations and emergency showers, including those where:
- Chemical soaking or dipping is performed
- Chemicals are sprayed
- There are high levels of dust
Eyewash Station Requirements
Workers who have access to proper eyewash stations can prevent additional damage to their eyes by rinsing out the damaging substances or materials. According to OSHA, the standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) should be followed, including that eyewash stations must:
- Be no more than 10 seconds away, in easily accessible areas
- Have a valve that remains on once activated, and an easily-removable cap to cover the eyewash spouts
- Deliver “flushing fluid” – potable or preserved water, or preserved buffered saline or other acceptable medical solution – for at least 15 minutes
- Have water that is tepid, so that workers can comfortably rinse their eyes out for the recommended time (at least 15 minutes for chemical contaminants and at least 30 minutes for corrosives)
- Be maintained regularly, to avoid the breeding of dangerous organisms that can cause serious infection or illness
Workers Must Be Trained
People tend to underestimate the amount of time required to flush toxins out of the eye. It is therefore important for workers to be trained on the minimum flush time for all types of contaminants.
Other important training topics include the proper procedures for eye flushing, such as holding the eyes open to ensure enough water reaches them; and never rubbing the eyes.
Workers should also be able to make it to the nearest eyewash station without looking, so they are able to do so immediately in the event of an emergency.
Philadelphia Workers’ Comp Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Compensation for Workplace Eye Injuries
If you suffered an eye injury at work, contact a Philadelphia workers’ comp lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the benefits to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
We proudly represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.