Eyewash and Emergency Washing Facilities

It can take just one accidental splash of certain chemicals, even ones as common as household bleach, to cause serious or even permanent damage to someone’s eyes or skin.

Workplaces, where contact with corrosive, toxic, or strongly irritating chemicals is possible, must provide emergency washing facilities as well as personal protective equipment for their employees.

The first aid response of using an emergency washing facility helps prevent a chemical from permanently harming a worker by flushing the affected body part with large quantities of water.


SH - Topics - EyewashThe first 10 to 15 seconds after a chemical contacting the skin or eyes is critical. Corrosive, toxic, or strongly irritating chemicals or substances can cause serious injuries if they get in your eyes or on your skin. Emergency washing facilities, like a shower and eyewash, provide a quick way to flush away dangerous substances that can cause injuries or illnesses. Accidents with chemicals can occur despite having a variety of safety precautions including using personal protective equipment like goggles.

The type of chemicals you use at work tells you if you need emergency washing facilities. Chemicals that could require the installation of an eyewash or other washing equipment include:

  • Corrosives. A corrosive destroys living tissue and can include chemicals or substances that are strong acids (pH of 2.5 or below) or strong bases (pH of 11.0 or above).
  • Strong irritants. A strong irritant causes an inflammatory reaction, which can include redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function.
  • Toxic substances. A toxic substance absorbs into the body and causes personal injury or illness.

The best way to find out if a chemical is corrosive, strongly irritating, or toxic is to check the safety data sheet (SDS) for the chemical.

The potential for exposure to a person’s skin or eyes will also tell you if you need an emergency eyewash facility. An emergency washing facility is required where an employee’s eyes or skin could be exposed to these types of chemicals. Some tasks involving these chemicals that may require emergency washing facilities include:

  • Pouring, mixing, or diluting chemicals
  • Using spray bottles, aerosol cans, or spray guns to apply chemicals.
  • Cleaning up spills.

Select equipment that meets the emergency washing facility standards. Look for equipment meeting the ANSI Z358.1-1998 standard or later. Emergency eyewash bottles cannot substitute for required emergency washing facilities. You may need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), like goggles, despite having emergency washing facilities. The need for PPE depends on how you use a chemical.

You can avoid needing emergency washing facilities. Simple changes can help you avoid emergency washing requirements including:

  • Using a safer chemical that does not require emergency washing equipment.
  • Using a closed-loop chemical dilution control system or dispenser where the end-product chemical does not require emergency washing facilities and there is less risk for chemical spills.
  • Changing work processes so chemicals are not needed.

Emergency washing facilities need to be easily accessible and usable. The equipment needs to:

  • Take less than 10 seconds to reach and be no more than 50 feet away.
  • Not be blocked.
  • Have tepid water with a minimum flow rate of 0.4 gallons of water per 15 minutes or more (for eyewash).
  • Have a single valve operation.
  • Be tested weekly and inspected yearly (for plumbed facilities).

Review the regulations for the full emergency washing requirements.

Requirements & Policies

This is a summary of the requirements for emergency washing facilities described in the Safety & Health Core Rules (Chapter 296-800 WAC) and in the DOSH Directive Emergency Washing Facilities 13.00.

An eyewash or emergency washing facility may be required if employees are exposed to a corrosive, strong irritant, or toxic chemical, if there is a reasonable likelihood the material could get on their skin or eyes at a concentration that would be harmful, regardless of the use of personal protective equipment.

In summary, emergency washing facilities must:

  • Meet the ANSI Z358.1-1998 standard or later.
  • Be installed according to the manufacturer’s requirements.
  • Be simple to activate and take less than one second to start (single valve operation).
  • Work for the required time with the required water flow.
  • Be within 10 seconds of use and less than 50 feet.
  • Be kept free of obstacles blocking their use.
  • Be activated weekly and inspected yearly (for plumbed facilities). Or, Inspected yearly and be replaced when expired (for self-contained equipment).

Hand held squeeze bottles, some drench hoses, and many faucet-mounted devices do not meet the minimum requirements for a required emergency washing facility.

Contact L&I safety and health consultants for help with emergency washing requirements.


Specific Rules for particular industries and activities

Enforcement Policies

Standards and Guidance from Others

Training & Resources

Train your employees on the hazardous chemicals in their work area and what they should do if they are accidently exposed to them.

Employee training must include:

  • The location of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
  • The dangers of the chemicals employees work with or around.
  • How employees can protect themselves from a chemical, including the location of the emergency washing facilities and personal protective equipment.
  • How to use emergency washing facilities.
  • How to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area.
  • Where to access the written hazard communication program and chemical safety data sheets (SDSs).

Additional employee training requirements are found in the Hazard Communication Standard, Chapter 296-901 WAC.

The following resources can help answer your emergency washing facilities questions and help you meet those requirements.

Emergency Washing Training

Chemical Hazard Communication Resources

Meetings and Safety Talks

For topic-specific information, see also:

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