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Legal requirements for safety showers at production sites

There is a general requirement under heath and safety legislation to provide sufficient protective and first aid equipment to mitigate the danger to employees health as much as is reasonably possible. Failure to provide sufficient levels of safety equipment leave a company open to litigation, can invalidate insurance and can, in extreme cases, lead to criminal corporate manslaughter charges. When dangerous materials are being stored, handled or utilised "sufficient levels" of safety equipment will normally mean the provision of safety showers and eye baths.

The term "sufficient" is somewhat vague when it comes to first aid equipment and what "sufficient" means will clearly vary from work place to work place. The only way one can really determine the correct deployment of eye and body showers should be is as part of an overall work place risk assessment. Essentially the correct level is the number at which no more will do anything to reasonably reduce injury. If one can demonstrate that all sensible precautions have been taken then the obligations of an employer will be met.

Universal requirements

Simply providing a shower, though, is not good enough to meet the obligations under most health and safety regulations. The deployment of showers needs to be part of an overall health and safety plan vetted and checked by expert safety professionals. The number and type of showers required will depend on the nature of the work being carried out and so its impossible to give any firm guidance here on how many showers would need to be deployed for any given plant. There is no magic formula for X number of showers per number of employees it will very much depend upon the nature and level of the risk. 

That being said some general factors that will need to be considered in every safety shower deployment are:

- The equipment must be clearly visible 
- The equipment must be fit for purpose
- The equipment must be in good working order 
- Staff must be trained and aware of how to use the equipment
- The equipment must be accessible to all, this includes any wheel chair users. 

Failure to meet these general points could lead to a breach of statutory obligations regardless of whether the correct number of showers have been deployed. Some of these factors will have a direct impact on product selection (see product selection section here).