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Have you ever stepped into the shower in the morning in a state of grogginess, only to be instantly awakened by a stream of water that is too hot or too cold? Now imagine seven to eight times the volume of water, at the same temperature, completely immersing your body in an emergency safety shower.
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A laboratory incident at UC Berkeley in 2009 caused severe chemical burns to a student. A few drops of the corrosive chemical oleylamine fell onto a researcher’s uncovered forearm. When he realized what happened, he went to the restroom and washed his arm with soap and water for about a minute. Unfortunately, oleylamine is corrosive and hard to wash off the skin.
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The ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 standard states that plumbed emergency eyewash and eye/face wash stations should be visually inspected and activated every week. They require annual servicing to ensure effective operation. In addition, companies should train their employees on the location and use of the eyewash so that they know what to do in an emergency.
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The fertilizer industry uses extremely hazardous materials in their production processes. Common industry chemicals like anhydrous ammonia can cause burns and inhalation hazards. Others like ammonium nitrate pose a risk of fire and explosion. One of the most well-known industrial accidents in recent history occurred in West, Texas, in 2013.
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Reading reports for incidents and injuries involving chemical splashes is sobering. Chemical burns cause severe reactions and could lead to permanent damage. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) keeps a record of incidents and lessons learned.
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Did you know that you can meet the ANSI Z358.1 standard for safety showers and still be unsafe? It is possible to be so focused on meeting the standard that you miss some very serious risks right next to your emergency shower and eye wash station location.

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Emergency safety showers are used in a wide variety of industries. They are critical pieces of safety equipment for providing immediate relief to employees splashed with chemicals.

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Emergency safety showers and eyewash stations minimize injuries caused by chemical burns. But some environments aren’t conducive to safety showers. For instance, if tepid water, or a constant supply of water, cannot be guaranteed, or the ambient temperatures are below -13 F (-25 C), it is impractical to use a standalone shower.

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Ten seconds. That’s the longest it should take anyone to reach a safety shower when splashed with hazardous chemicals. That’s about the same amount of time that it takes to tie your shoelaces or to fold a t-shirt. Ten seconds passes very quickly, but an injured person must make their way from the incident to an emergency safety shower before that time frame expires.

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A local fire brigade responds to an incident at a small chemicals factory. Many hazardous chemicals are on site and the incident has resulted in some injuries. The crew swings into action as their training and experience kick in. They assess the situation, demarcate the danger zone and don their full protective hazmat suits. These brave emergency responders risk their own lives to rescue injured workers and contain the situation.

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