Our eyes are delicate and vulnerable, and the consequences of damage to them can be devastating. That’s why safeguarding the eyes is of utmost importance. Generally, safety googles or glasses should be provided and used for any job which has the potential to damage the eyes whether it’s due to flying debris, fine particles in the air, or the use of dangerous chemicals. However, it isn’t enough to provide PPE – treatment needs to be available if damage should be done to the eye despite efforts to prevent it.

The recommended first aid for eyes contaminated with particulate matter or chemicals is to rinse the eye with clean running water. Some workplaces may have special eye showers installed, while in others it may be possible to use an ordinary tap to irrigate the eye. However, for other worksites, running water may not be available or accessible enough for someone to use on their eye. In these circumstances, employers should instead provide sterile eye wash in sealed containers.

If the eye has been contaminated with chemicals, it should be rinsed continuously for at least 15 minutes. Eye wash can either be used as an interim measure whilst the casualty is moved to somewhere with clean running water, or it may be used continuously for the entire duration – though this would require large reserves of bottled eye wash.

What does an eye wash station consist of?

An eye wash station must provide a minimum of 1 litre of eye wash at all times, though this doesn’t need to be contained in a single bottle and is easier to administer in smaller bottles. In order to fulfil this requirement, additional eye wash supplies should be kept on site to replenish stations and to enable continuous use in an emergency. Eye wash must be sterile and therefore kept in sealed, unused bottles – once an eye wash container has been opened, it may not be reused and must be discarded as the eye wash solution is no longer sterile. For this reason, it isn’t possible to re-seal HypaClens eye wash bottles or pods.

Is eye wash just water?

To ensure its sterility, HypaClens eye wash is a saline solution containing 0.9% Sodium Chloride. It works simply by diluting and flushing away any contaminants, and as such is a substitute for using tap water. However, for chemical contamination of the eye, a more effective alternative is available. Cederroth’s eye wash is a Borate buffered Isotonic Sodium Chloride solution. It restores the eye’s pH to normal levels more quickly than tap water or standard eye wash, helping to minimise the harm and reduce the likelihood of permanent sight loss. Cederroth eye wash is effective against acidic and alkaline substances, but is particularly effective at neutralising alkalis which are also more damaging to the eye. An integrated eye cup helps ensure a steady flow of eye wash directly into the eye.

Where should an eye wash station be located?

Eye wash stations should be located near the major hazards to eye health, such as labs working with harmful chemicals, industrial cutting equipment and grinding wheels. The station should be fixed to the wall, easy to access and on the same level as the hazard, not requiring stairs or a ladder to reach. It should be clearly signed. A mirror may be helpful to allow casualties to treat themselves.

What eye wash solutions are available?

We offer a range of eye wash stations and bottles. Cederroth eye wash comes in 500ml bottles and 235ml pocket bottles. HypaClens sterile eye wash comes in 500ml and 250ml bottles. 20ml eye wash pods are also available – these are ideal for less serious eye contamination, for example from dust or small insects, and can save unnecessary use of a larger bottle. Eye wash pods can also be fitted easily into first aid kits. Firstaid.co.uk has a range of wall-mounted eye wash wall panels, brackets and dispensers to suit every budget and purpose. Just visit our category page to see for yourself!