Safety Showers for Production Sites
"Production" covers an enormous range of activities many of which will require safety showers or eye baths. The need for safety shower equipment varies greatly according to the nature of the business but obvious industry sectors that are heavy users of safety showers are the chemical and petrochemical industry.
The environment in which the shower is deployed also needs to be considered carefully when selecting the correct shower.
Many showers have warning lights, sirens, heating elements and other electrical equipment. These electrical components may be a vital part of the safety shower working effectively within a given safety strategy, for example the position lights may be vital to ensure a shower able to be found in environments where visibility is restricted. The presence of electrical components in a potentially explosive environment, however, poses significant issues. If deployed in ATEX zones then these showers need to be certified for that zone.
Thankfully the Safety Shower People have a full range of ATEX certified showers fro zones 1 and 2. Most of the electrical components found on our showers, from heating elements to warning lights and junction boxes, have ATEX certified options. Furthermore our product range is only one a handful in the world that has ATEX certification for the whole assembly.
Manufacturing plants can be very hot places or they can be outdoors and cold. In hot environments, care needs to be taken that the water supplied to the shower does not overheat. In cold environments, a shower could potentially fail due to frozen water. In either case this could be construed as a failure on the company's part to provide sufficient safety equipment. As such either frost protection or self draining showers may be required.
In order to be effective, first aid equipment safety showers need to be visible. Careful consideration needs to be given to the following factors:
1- A person suffering from a chemical burn may have impaired vision.
2- In the event of a disaster could clouds of smoke, dust or gas impeded visibility?
3- In outdoors setting could weather such as fog or night time working impede visibility?
4- Could normal operating processes restrict visibility?
A simple "high vis" sign may not be enough in many circumstances to ensure the shower is visible. A variety of position lighting options are available for showers to mitigate this problem.
Safety showers should be inspected and checked to ensure that they are in good working order every 3-6 months.
General good practice is that the shower is on the same level as the hazard it is guarding against. If an injured worker has to climb or descend stairs or ladders then it would be difficult to argue that a reasonable provision of safety equipment has been met. Furthermore, access to wheel chair users should also be considered.
Safety showers are designed to deliver a strong flow of water to the person using them. The whole purpose of the shower is to remove contaminants as quickly as possible. As such the water from the shower will, in all likelihood, spray outside the designated shower as it hits the person being treated. Consideration should be given to any surrounding equipment that may be damaged by water. If sensitive equipment is located near the shower then panelled showers may be helpful in containing the spray.
The psychology of safety is often over looked. One of the biggest battles health and safety professionals have is trying to overcome human beings' propensity to act in illogical ways. Most of us are prone to taking unnecessary risks at work for a variety of reasons. Changing this risky behaviour is actually one of the main challenges faced when trying to make the workplace safe. After all, even a perfect health and safety plan with all the correct procedures and equipment in place is rendered useless if workers don't follow it.
Modifying human behaviour is an interesting and broad topic in psychology and far beyond the scope of our work at the Safety Shower People. That being said, we have given consideration to the psychology of safety in many of our products. There are features on some of our products that can help overcome the psychological barriers that prevent the correct use of our eye baths and showers.
The social taboo about public nudity should not be ignored. Good practice in the event of a chemical splash or spill is to remove all clothing even under garments. But getting naked in front of one's workmates is a significant psychological deterrent. Couple this with the fact that the shower may sound a siren and flash a light when operated and we have a very strong mental barrier to following the correct procedure.
Installing side panels and a door on a shower can remove this barrier and help workers follow the correct procedure.
Basins for eye showers
The more basic eye showers will work very well but the water ultimately ends up on the floor. Depending on the work place in question this may create a mess, damage equipment and generally disrupt work. No one really wants to be the person that does this, particularly when alarms may sound drawing the attention of all colleagues. This barrier again should not be underestimated as it may cause workers to try and clean off minor spills in a normal sink.
Fitting eye baths with a catchment basin or, if possible, installing a drain under the shower can reduce this barrier to usage.
Any good health and safety procedure will state clearly that all showers and eye baths must be accessible and clear from clutter at all times. In the eyes of managers and health and safety professionals, emergency showers are seen as vital first aid kit. The thought that someone might endanger themselves and their colleagues by placing obstructions in the way of such vital equipment might not even occur. Why would anyone do this?
For workers on the shop floor dealing with the day-to-day hustle and bustle of getting stuff made, the safety shower is a bit of kit that takes up space and is never used. On the logical level all staff know it's important but because it's never used over time (after initial safety training) the perceived importance of the equipment drops. It is ironic that the people who are the most likely to need the shower (the frontline workers) are the ones who will be least likely to treat it with respect. Human psychology is funny like that.
The space under a shower, particularly a tank shower, can very easily become a "useful" storage area. In outside settings the tank shower even has a roof to protect equipment from the rain. If the perception of the showers' usefulness has dropped in the minds of workers then this can and does happen. Showers can become cluttered and inaccessible. Clearly this can have disastrous consequences when the shower is need.
A simple but effective solution to this problem is platform actuation of showers. If pressure on the floor of the shower activates it, along with alarms going off, it will never be used as a storage area.