Eyewash Station Infection Risks

Eyewash Station Infection Risks

Health Effects from Contaminated Water in Eyewash Stations

Eyewash Station Risks for Infection

Eyewash stations are used in workplace environments where potential irritants could lead to eye injuries. By law, research laboratories, production facilities, and medical environments are required to have eyewash stations in place. While designed to keep workers safe, they could pose serious health risks if maintained improperly.

Contaminated Eyewash Stations

Pseudomonas. Photo Credit: CDC

According to OSHA, eyewash stations that aren’t being regularly maintained could contain potentially dangerous organisms. This puts employees at risk for developing eye and full body infections.

Pseudomonas, for instance, is a deadly bacteria species known for causing serious health complications. An infection that begins in the eye could spread through an individual’s bloodstream to the other tissue, including the skin and lungs. This is just one type of harmful substance which could be lurking in your eyewash station.

Can You Prevent Eyewash Contamination?

First, it’s important to identify the type of eyewash system your company uses. Plumbed eyewash stations feature plumbing components like spouts. They should be activated each week to ensure proper working order. And to clear away any buildup that could accumulate over time.

There are also eyewash solutions that don’t require any plumbing. Called self-contained eyewash stations, these systems can provide a stream of eyewash to the user for 15 minutes, as mandated by OSHA. They can also be installed quickly and easily in a convenient location. There are also durable self-contained stations. These are ideal in a wide variety of settings, including remote plant areas and construction sites.

Pureflow 1000 Replacement Cartridges
Pureflow 1000 Replacement Cartridges

To ensure compliance, self-contained eyewash stations should be serviced according to manufacturer instructions. One of the most important factors to remember is that the saline solution they contain does have an expiration date.

Some have 24-month shelf lives. Others can be stored safely for up to 36 months. The expiration date will vary from one type of solution to the next.

A final way to provide employees with eye solution is to simply have a small emergency eyewash wall station in place. Many low-risk environments  don’t fall under OSHA’s requirement of a steady stream of 1.5 liters per minute available for 15 minutes.  These facilities will use a wall station with 16 oz or 32 oz bottles  of eyewash.   Others may just have eyewash included with their first aid supplies. These too must be changed regularly to provide employees with access to fresh, contaminant-free eyewash.

Tips for Safe Eyewash Practices

Eyewash should generally be stored at a temperature between 60 and 100 degrees. Different solutions may have more specific storage requirements. To effectively clean or service the station, be sure to follow the manufacturers’ instructions.

It’s important to use only solutions appropriate for eye flushing in your stations. Avoid risk of serious injury by using the proper solution.

Eyesaline Eyewash
Eyesaline Eyewash

If you have a need for eyewash stations or refill cartridges/bottles, Harmony Business Supplies can help. Take a look at our selection of eyewash equipment on our website. Or contact a product specialist for assistance.

The 5 OSHA Workplace Hazards

Under the right circumstances, virtually anything could become hazardous in the workplace. With sensible employee behavior and workplace conditions, however, the workplace hazards that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warn against fall into just five main categories. We’ll review them below, and provide suggestions for mitigating dangers for each.

#1: Safety Hazards

(slips, trips and falls, faulty
equipment, etc.)

Safety risks refer to the conditions or substances found in the work environment which can pose danger of injuries. From falling objects to wet floors, these seemingly innocuous everyday risks have the potential to cause serious bodily harm. To minimize these hazards, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Never leave machinery unattended while in use
  2. Practice safety while working from heights
  3. Mandate the use of safety gear and safety apparel, like hardhats, and safety glasses
  4. Have your electrical wiring inspected regularly
  5. Provide the proper signage (like wet floor signs) to notify employees of spills, and clean them up promptly

Safety Hazards include:

  • Spills on floors or tripping hazards,
    such as blocked aisles or cords
    running across the floor
  • Working from heights, including
    ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any
    raised work area
  • Unguarded machinery and moving
    machinery parts; guards removed or
    moving parts that a worker can
    accidentally touch
  • Electrical hazards like frayed cords,
    missing ground pins, improper
  • Confined spaces
  • Machinery-related hazards
    (lockout/tagout, boiler safety,
    forklifts, etc.)

#2: Biological Hazards

(mold, insects/pests,
communicable diseases, etc.)

These types of hazards tend to be exclusive to specific work environments. Particularly, anyone who works with infectious plants, people, or animals may be regularly exposed to biological hazards. Examples of occupations could include laboratory workers, daycare assistants, and personnel in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or nursing homes.

Coming into contact with substances like blood and other bodily fluids, animal droppings, bacteria and viruses, or fungi can put an individual at risk of becoming ill. To minimize these risks, it’s essential that you establish a protocol for handling biohazards and potentially infectious material. Additionally, make sure necessary supplies like disposable gloves are easily accessible. Sorbents can be used to clean up bio-hazards.  These powerful granules absorb the liquid, making them easy to clean-up.

Types of things you may be exposed to

  • Blood and other body fluids
  • Fungi/mold
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Plants
  • Insect bites
  • Animal and bird droppings

#3: Physical Hazards

(noise, temperature extremes,
radiation, etc.)

Physical hazards are environmental factors which can cause injury without direct contact. For instance, radiation, temperature extremes, consistent loudness, and prolonged exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays all fall into this category. These are commonly considered the most difficult to detect, because signs don’t always present themselves right away.Like the other hazards listed here, reducing your employees’ risk of being exposed to physical hazards comes down to providing protection.

Hearing protection, for instance, should be considered mandatory for any individuals working around loud machinery. In settings where MEFs and microwaves are routinely emitted, employers must develop practices their teams can follow to limit exposure.

Physical Hazards include:

  • Radiation: including ionizing, nonionizing
    (EMF’s, microwaves,
    radiowaves, etc.)
  • High exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet
  • Temperature extremes – hot and cold
  • Constant loud noise

#4: Ergonomic Hazards

(repetition, lifting, awkward
postures, etc.)

Like physical hazards, ergonomic hazards may develop over time. Back strain and similar musculoskeletal disorders are often attributed to repetitive workplace motions. Even individuals who work desk jobs aren’t immune to suffering from back pain.

To combat ergonomic hazards, employers can offer training from specialists to help employees understand the importance of proper lifting techniques and posture. More and more employers are also exploring standing desk options to prevent associates from experiencing health complications associated with prolonged sitting.

Ergonomic Hazards include:

  • Improperly adjusted workstations and
  • Frequent lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Awkward movements, especially if
    they are repetitive
  • Repeating the same movements over
    and over
  • Having to use too much force,
    especially if you have to do it
  • Vibration

#5: Chemical/Dust Hazards

(cleaning products, pesticides,
asbestos, etc.)

Some chemicals are naturally more potent than others. While certain types are only dangerous when ingested or a person comes into direct contact with them, others are dangerous when simply inhaled. If your workforce uses chemicals regularly, you can keep employees safe by:

  1. Clearly labeling all chemicals
  2. Developing a protocol for handling chemicals
  3. Providing employees with the proper safety gear (respirators and gloves, for instance) to wear while in the presence of chemicals

Beware of:

  • Liquids like cleaning products, paints,
    acids, solvents – ESPECIALLY if
    chemicals are in an unlabeled
  • Vapors and fumes that come from
    welding or exposure to solvents
  • Gases like acetylene, propane, carbon
    monoxide and helium
  • Flammable materials like gasoline,
    solvents, and explosive chemicals.
  • Pesticides


No matter which types of hazards your workplace has, Harmony Business Supplies has all of the safety gear and products your team needs to stay healthy and injury-free. Browse through their supplies online now, or contact a product specialist to learn more.