There are OSHA regulations (1910.151) and ANSI standards (Z358.1) for emergency showers and eyewashes that are usually pretty straightforward to apply. Water needs to be released at a tepid temperature, defined as 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The flow has to be steady for 15 minutes at drench pressure. They must be located within 10 minutes of any worker who might need one.
But imagine you are managing the safety for a remote site such as a gas or oil drilling rig in the middle of the Arctic Circle or Saharan desert. Not so easy any more is it? How are you going to keep that much water? How can you possibly keep it at a tepid temperature for immediate use at a drenching volume?
Some logistical issues also arise. You can’t risk the worker getting hypothermia from being drenched in the Arctic, so you also need some way for him or her to get dry and warm. You can’t use salt water on a mid-ocean rig (can you imagine getting that in your eyewash?) so you need to use preciously scarce fresh water supplies.
Casey Hayes has some interesting thoughts on this in the November issue of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News. Casey outlines some of the challenges that I listed above as well as a few more. What about tight quarters that redefines what 10 minutes of travel time is or that limits the footprint for an emergency shower? What about explosion hazards from the oil and gas being pulled out? The article concludes with a recommendation to work in collaboration with the emergency equipment vendor, who might have some expertise in doing some innovative fitting and design.
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