Get your emergency eye wash together

Is your emergency eye wash up to par? If not, you’re not alone, says Del Goudreau – an occupational first aid attendant who treats and transfers injured workers to hospital from remote industrial sites.

Del in his mobile treatment and transport truck

Del visits forestry, construction, and manufacturing sites througout southwest B.C. and Vancouver Island. He wrote a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the July/Aug 2009 issue of WorkSafe Magazine – asking employers to make sure workers have access to proper eyewash supplies.

Del’s letter said, “I never see adequate emergency treatment measures or resources to assist injured workers when their eyes have been exposed to chemicals….” That surprised me. I phoned Del for more details.

“You go to some sites and they don’t even have an emergency eyewash, or it’s not in a conspicuous place that’s accessible,” he said. “At best, they’ll have an emergency eyewash bottle which is only one litre of fluid – and most of the time, I don’t know what the fluid is. It’s not very well-marked and it’s not maintained.”


That’s bad news for anyone who gets chemicals or particles in their eyes. Flushing with water ASAP makes a big difference. In some cases, it can save vision.

Workplace rules and regs on eyewash vary among jurisdictions. Here in British Columbia, Canada, the WorkSafeBC Regulation Part 5 Chemical Agents requires employers to select appropriate eye wash facilities: “based on an assessment of the risks in each workplace.”


7 thoughts on “Get your emergency eye wash together

  1. Kyle Thill

    Although we do so little with materials that require our station, we’ve used it on several occasions.

    Another task we take on daily is insuring the path to the station is clear and not blocked by materials or parked units. Nice post, thank you for the reminder.

  2. Danyell


    A 16 oz or 32 oz eye wash station is not considered emergency eye wash. It is considered a first aid tool available to get someone to an emergency eyewash station. Regulations require that (should it be required, depending on the hazard) that a 15 minute emergency system be available. These small wall mount units do not meet regulations and are usually poorly kept causing more damage then they prevent. The new FDA rules around these systems solutions has changed. Please be careful and make sure you always understand the products that you are using.

    1. Del

      Yes it is. Its a Worker self care device for use, not a first aid attendant tool. This 1 litre bottle is provided for most basic care where MSDS (SDS) doesnt specify copious amounts of fluid or irrigation “by the clock” usually stated 15-30 minutes (for example: battery acid splash).
      Current standards require “maintenance” meaning a checklist and schedule that any worker can follow whoever is designated this task to ensure if special eye fluid is used or tap water so it is cleaned and changed so as to not cross contaminated human fluid on devise or microbial growth in the tap water used.
      A record of service should be maintained according to safety regulations.
      Thank you.

  3. susan Post author

    Thank you Danyell for pointing this out. I took that photo at WildPlay Adventure Park in Nanaimo in August. Since I had just written about eye wash, it caught my eye and I wanted to use a photo of it to go with that blog post. I didn’t ask them specifically about their eye wash program though.

    Here in B.C. Canada, our Occupational Health and Safety Regulation calls for “Tempered, continuous flow eyewash facility with a minimum duration of 15 minutes (or more if required by the nature of the material).” So, as you say, the eye wash station in the photo would not cover that.

  4. Kim

    You must keep in mind that your eyewash station, be it fixed, portable or self contained, are ALL considered emergency eyewash stations. It is based on your risk assessment of the area that gives perscriptive requirements for certain systems. The wall mounted eyewash bottle with buffered solution or water is a completely acceptable method of eye flushing in LOW RISK areas.

    The way we (here) all read Danyell’s post was that the eyewash bottles were not considered an emergency eyewash… I believe what she was trying to point out was that eyewash bottles are not considered an adequate flush system for moderate-high risk areas.

    Check out WSBC OHS G5.85-G5.89 and remember to complete your risk assessments!!!

    Safety first….because accidents last!

  5. Micheal

    Take a look at these trailers we build for the upstream oil and gas industry in North Eastern BC, and Alberta. They are utilized for the emergency shower facilities when well site completion locations pump acid down hole (to loosen the formation before hydraulic fracturing). I see the same issue though with their lack of use for other situations. We see maybe 15% of the well completions up here use acid and this is the only time our units are utilized. There are still many chemicals on site that if you look at the MSDS have first aid measures stating a 15 min flush for eyes and skin.


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