When your work tasks require the use of chemicals that are corrosive or severely irritating to the skin or which are toxic by skin absorption, you need an emergency shower available.
The emergency shower should be within a 10 second walk (approximately 50 feet) from the chemical workstation. Keep the pathways clear. Prevent shock hazards by keeping electrical equipment and outlets away from the shower area. Test the shower monthly or according to manufacturer’s instructions weekly to ensure it activates.
If you are contaminated with a chemical, stay calm and act immediately. Chemicals can do a lot of damage in just a few seconds. Don’t hesitate and head directly to the shower. Notify a coworker for help getting to the shower and calling 911 if necessary.
Activate the shower using the hand pull lever. Once you activate it, the water will stay on. Showers are self-contained or plumbed, so water may run onto the floor (a facility crew can clean it up after the emergency). You can usually stop the shower by pushing the lever up.
If the chemicals saturated your clothing, remove them. If they are on fire, allow the water to extinguish the flames. Don’t pull clothing off of burnt or damaged skin. Remove jewelry, contacts, and your shoes. Let the water wash over your body to decontaminate it for 15 minutes. You can use the eyewash station simultaneously if needed, or shield your eyes to prevent splashes and cross contamination.
Coworkers can help with clothing and equipment removal and decontamination. Coworkers should assist AND monitor for medical symptoms and shock. Keep extra clothes around to shield and warm victims afterward.
Emergency showers are first aid only. You should seek medical follow up after a chemical exposure. Remember, wearing your personal protective equipment and following safe work procedures can prevent emergencies!