[ahy-wosh, ahy-wawsh]

Eyewash is a fluid, commonly saline, used in the aid of rinsing of the eye. Eyewash may also describe the apparatus used to physically wash the eyes in the case that they may be contaminated by foreign materials or substances.

Eyewashes may be beneficial to those with sensitive eyes and can provide relief to the painful side effects of sensitivity.

OSHA refers to ANSI regulations, requiring buffered saline solutions instead of tap water, because tap water has disrupted the eye's protective epithelial layer and has caused damage to the corneal cells.

To clarify these requirements, OSHA refers to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z358.1, Standards for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment. The standard requires that an eyewash device be placed:

  • within 10 seconds of potential hazards and immediately adjacent to strong caustics or acids
  • on the same level as the hazard in an obstruction-free path of travel
  • in a well-lit area
  • near a highly visible sign, identifying the eyewash device

The ANSI standard also requires that the eyewash device:

  • begin flushing within one second of activation
  • must flush both eyes simultaneously
  • must utilize a stay-open valve
  • must maintain a flow rate of .4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes

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