Putting eye safety under the spotlight

Though workplace health and safety is the bedrock for employee welfare, it can be easy to forget that injury to the eye can happen in any circumstance. Enware’s Allan Lane explains why having an industry-graded eyewash system is so important.

Safety shower and eyewash systems are compliant to industry standards, which cover two sections of eyewash care.

One of them is called the primary, those that operate handsfree and require 15 minutes of continuous flow.

The other is the supplemental device which doesn’t need to be handsfree and doesn’t rely on ebb and flow regulations, and is available in different-size bottles, from 5ml to a litre.

Allan Lane, Enware’s national sales manager for safety products, spoke to Manufacturers’ Monthly about the benefits close-to-hand eyewash systems to workplace safety.

“If the hazard isn’t necessarily dangerous but more of an irritant, you may not need a device that is plumbed in to mains water, he said, “and, while we serve for both, supplemental systems are a growing area in the industry.”

Naturally, they are very popular in the mining industry, for example – especially where workers are placed in remote areas and dust particles are abundant.

“They are designed to be mobile but, having said that, there are ones that can also be fixed in laboratories or in schools, around dangerous or hazardous goods,” Lane continued.

“When it comes to the supplemental, there has been an increase in awareness around employee safety and duty of care, over the last 20 years.

“Whereas in the years before, people may have washed their eyes under a tap, the eyewash is actually much better for the eye because normal water can cause infection in some instances.

“Nowadays, people have become more aware of the market place and what their responsibility is to their employees and ensure that they are looked after well.”

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While heavy industries such as manufacturing have a greater risk of harm to the eye, the smaller eyewash devices are more diverse and can be used in any instance.

“I would use one of these products at home when I get chilli pepper in my eye, so it can be used anywhere whether in the house, at a mine site, or inside a factory,” Lane said.

“Obviously, larger companies especially those using dangerous chemicals will have plumbed-in systems where there is a greater likelihood of injury that requires a 15-minute continuous flow.

“However, when it comes to a scenario where that isn’t required, the supplemental bottles come in very handy.”

Knowing the risks at the workplace is the first step to understanding which level of care is needed; primary or supplemental.

“My advice to people when I chat to them about what they need is to always check a safety data  sheet, to decide whether there is a high or low chance of harm, and how you judge what level of safety device you are going to need,” Lane explained.

“They are not necessarily industry specific but rather hazard specific, which is all covered in the data sheet.”

Health and safety regulations are enforced for the welfare of employees in all types of scenarios and the health of the eye is treated no differently, even when the injury is only slight to begin with.

“The first line of defence is always personal protection equipment such as goggles or safety glasses, but the eyes can be damaged in lots of different ways, so you must have the primary systems very close to hand,” Lane said.

“That being the case, people still tend to think that it is chemical-based jobs that will cause the only damage, but a scratch in the eye can cause infection and even a speck of dust can cause so much aggravation it causes the eye to enflame.

“It is important to remember that anything that you can get in your eye can damage it, which means having the right treatment to hand is vital.”

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