Emergency showers and eyewash stations - your questions answered

Emergency showers and eyewash stations - your questions answered

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. Every year in the UK, thousands of people injure their eyes while at work. About 1 in 10 of these injuries will result in one or more days off work to recover, and between 10-20% of all workplace eye injuries will result in temporary or permanent loss of vision. 

Experts believe that with the right equipment this could have been avoided in 90% of cases. This is why it’s essential that emergency showers and eyewash stations are located on any premises where workers are dealing with hazardous substances.

Before you invest in this important equipment, please take a moment to read through our comprehensive FAQ on emergency showers and eyewash stations. We answer the top 10 questions customers ask before making their purchase.

FAQ on emergency showers and eyewash stations

1  What is an emergency shower?

Emergency showers and eyewash stations are essential pieces of equipment for any workplace that uses chemicals and hazardous substances.

An emergency shower is designed to fully decontaminate the body, and should deliver water at a diameter of at least 50.8 cm (20 inches). This diameter ensures that water comes in contact with the whole body and not just the head. 

An eyewash station is designed to decontaminate the eye area, and should deliver fluid to both eyes simultaneously at a volume of at least 1.5 litres/minute (0.4 gallons/minute) for 15 minutes. 

The first 10 to 15 seconds after exposure to a hazardous substance (especially corrosive substances) are a critical time. Delaying treatment by even a few seconds has been shown to cause serious injuries. With an on-site emergency shower or eyewash station, workers are able to immediately flush away hazardous substances that can cause injury - providing them with on-the-spot decontamination. 

Having these items installed has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of workplace injuries. 


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2  Are emergency showers required by law?

There are various legal requirements to consider when it comes to emergency showers and eyewash stations, with the most important being the ANSI Standard.

The ANSI Standard Z358.1-2009


The ANSI Standard Z358.1-2009 establishes universal minimum performance and use requirements for emergency shower and eyewash stations. 

ANSI Z358.1-2014 specifies that the equipment installed be capable of providing flushing liquid for a minimum of 15 minutes. The flushing or rinsing time can be modified if the identity and properties of the chemical are known. For example:

  • 5-minutes for non-irritants or mild irritants,
  • 15-20 minutes for moderate to severe irritants and chemicals that cause acute toxicity if absorbed through the skin,
  • 30 minutes for most corrosives, and
  • 60 minutes for strong alkalis (e.g., sodium, potassium or calcium hydroxide).
[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Notduschen in sonstigen Arbeitsstätten
It is recommended that it take no longer than 10 seconds (roughly 17m or 55ft) for an employee working alongside hazardous substances to reach an emergency shower.



3  Do risk assessments require emergency showers?

You should use a risk assessment to determine whether or not you need to install an emergency shower on your premises. You will need to assess whether there are hazardous substances on site that pose a risk to skin or eyes and will therefore require immediate rinsing in an emergency.

Important factors to consider when installing emergency showerseyewash stations and/or eyewash bottles are the number of units being installed, the design of the units and the positioning of the units.

The safety data sheet

If hazardous substances are used in your company, the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is one of the most important sources of information for risk assessment. A safety data sheet is not a risk assessment. You should use the information it contains to help make your own assessment.

Consider activities and procedures

However, hazardous substances may also arise or be released during activities. These include, for example, dusts, sparks, metal shavings or wood shards – but burns and scalding are also an issue and should be considered in the risk assessment.

[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Abfüllen von Chemikalien
[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Lagerarbeiten
[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Sägen
[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Schweißen

4  Can I use a regular water source instead of an emergency shower?

This is not recommended. 

In an emergency, the most important thing is immediate, efficient and sufficiently rinsing with the right amount of water. Only specially designed safety showers achieve an optimal and efficient supply, due to the high volume flow and corresponding flow speed. They are also equipped with many important additional functions that conventional washing options do not offer. For example, particularly simple actuation mechanisms that avoid serious loss of time in emergency situations. Or specially shaped eye attachments that effectively support keeping the eyelids open and only in this way enable optimal rinsing of the eye region.

For these reasons, emergency showers are also strictly standardised. The minimum requirements are regulated by EN 15154 - the European safety standard for emergency showers and eyewash stations - which is divided into five parts:

Part 1 for "Body showers with water connection for laboratories"
Part 2 for "Eye showers with water connection"
Part 3 for "Body showers without water connection"
Part 4 for "Eye showers without water connection"
Part 5 for "Body showers overhead with water for locations other than laboratories"


Good to know: DENIOS emergency showers meet all the requirements of EN 15154.  


[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Augendusche mit Druckplatte

5  Which emergency shower is the right one for you?


At the DENIOS online shop you will find a comprehensive selection of products designed to dispense rinsing fluid in the event of an emergency.

But which product is the right one for you? To make things easier for our customers, we’ve put together a handy product selection guide. 


View the guide



Need advice on the right equipment for your business? Call 01952 700 569 and talk to one of our DENIOS experts



6  What should I consider when installing an emergency shower?

In an emergency, every second counts for skin and eye injuries. Therefore, you should think about the right time when setting up an emergency shower.

These 3 things are especially important:


Cleverly positioned

For laboratories, the TRGS 562 specifies a positioning of the emergency shower at the output. Otherwise, in an emergency, the optimal accessibility of the emergency shower must be guaranteed. So where exactly is the source of danger? A rule of thumb is that you must be able to get to the emergency shower within a maximum of 10 seconds. In the case of particularly hazardous substances, if necessary, faster (depending on your risk assessment). The DGUV laboratory guidelines also set a significantly faster time with a maximum of 5 seconds. Our tip: Take the practical test and try out how long it takes!

[Translate to en_IE:] [Translate to en_GB:] Notdusche im Labor

Of course barrier-free:

Imagine they have something in mind – the lids are reflexively pinched and you have to get to the emergency shower with a very limited view. If the path is not clear now, because, for example, the area with material has been delivered, you have a problem. A conspicuous floor marking can help to lock off the emergency shower accordingly and prevent a delivery.

Other stumbling blocks must also be avoided when setting up emergency showers. The injured person should not be forced to climb stairs, climb ramps or open doors. Therefore, place the emergency shower on the same level as the source of danger and avoid barriers such as doors and gates on the way to the emergency shower.

Visible at all times: 

To ensure that the emergency shower is not overlooked, they should ensure good visibility. This includes illuminating the area around the emergency shower and affixing the rescue signs "emergency shower" or "eye wash" clearly visible.

7  What do employees need to know about emergency showers?

Simply installing an emergency shower is not enough. Injured people quickly panic and must therefore be able to know the correct behaviour in an emergency and be able to use it safely. Detailed instruction on the use of emergency showers and eye rinsing is therefore part of the compulsory programme for employers. Our checklist tells you which questions your employees need to know an answer to at the end:

Checklist: The 3 questions your employees need to be able to answer Done?
When should I use an emergency shower?

The operating instructions are part of the 1x1 of the risk assessment: Inform your employees about the possible dangers in everyday business and explain the necessary first aid measures. In the end, everyone needs to know in which situations an immediate rinse should be initiated.
Where are the company emergency showers located?

Searching for a long time in an emergency is not an option! Employees must therefore know exactly where to find emergency showers and eye rinsing in the event of an emergency.

How do I operate the emergency shower?

If you don't know how to operate the emergency shower in an emergency, you have a serious problem. Although emergency showers are designed to be as easy to use as possible, the triggermechanism can vary depending on the model. While body showers can usually be triggered by drawbar, there are different options for eye showers: by pressure plate, valve lever or by means of a protective cover, which activates the eye shower when folding up. Eye wash bottles, on the other hand, release the rinsing liquid by manually squeezing the bottle body. Depending on the model, this works best with the proverbial "head in the neck" or in a pre-emptive pose.

Our tip: Not only do you explain how to do it right, but also train the right handling!



8  What happens to the wastewater?

Proper disposal of the contaminated water must be considered when installing new equipment. Drainage, freezing temperatures and pollutants, should be considered. We recommend that you consult your Local Authority, Water provider or Environment Agency for additional guidance on the correct wastewater disposal method for your site.



9  How often do I have to maintain an emergency shower?

For both body showers and eyewash stations, best practice requires it them to be annually checked by an expert. In addition, a functional check by the user should be carried out each month. For eyewash stations, a weekly check may be advised to keep the risk of contamination to an absolute minimum.



10  How do you test the function of an emergency shower?

A regular check of the emergency shower is not only used to ensure the proper functionality. Regular actuation also helps to keep the valve smooth. Frequent water changes also prevent contamination and contamination of the water pipe. During the functional test, assess both the volume flow, the image of the water distribution of the shower head and the water quality by inspection. A clean and efficient test is achieved with practical emergency shower test units

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Need advice on the right equipment for your business?
Contact DENIOS today and one of our team of experts will be happy to talk you through handling and storage solutions.