Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Safer Science: April/May 2014, Best Practices for Safety Issues in the Science Classroom and Laboratory

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Safer Science: April/May 2014, Best Practices for Safety Issues in the Science Classroom and Laboratory

Article excerpt

Eyewash Stations and Showers in the Lab

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A high school science teacher was concerned about the lack of an eyewash station and shower in her science lab. The Safety Data Sheets provided with the hazardous chemicals she planned to use called for them. The school administration, however, told her these engineering controls weren't legally required. Hello! Sorry, but yes, regulations and better professional practices do in fact require administrators to protect both students and school employees.

Stated in black and white

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, found at 29 CFR 1910.151(c) and titled "Medical Services and First Aid," specify that "Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use" (see "On the web"). OSHA and employers follow the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z358.1 standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment.

Also be aware that the standard requires tepid water be used (between 15.6 and 37.8 degrees Celsius). Additionally it notes that any occupant must be able to reach the eyewash station or shower within 10 seconds from any part of the room. If obstacles such as furniture or doors delay access beyond 10 seconds, then additional engineering controls are required. Also needed are appropriate signs (e.g., "Eyewash Station and Emergency Drench Shower"), which should be visible from anywhere in the laboratory.

Better professional practices are described in several places. For example, a position statement from NSTA (see "On the web") says:

"Science rooms/laboratories should be used only for science classes and science activities and should be equipped with:

* Adequate laboratory space per student and sufficient gas, electrical, and water outlets for student laboratory activities. …

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