Tel: 01273 400092

Product selection guide for production sites

Nature of the risk

The first thing to do is to determine exactly the nature of the risk. A good rule is to imagine the worst kind of accident possible and then plan a sufficient response to that. This will determine the type of showers and eye baths that need to be deployed. If the, for example, the worst case scenario is a small spill of acid to the face then perhaps eye baths would be sufficient. If, on the other hand, the quantities of dangerous material being handled are larger and could result in significant coverage of the body then clearly full body showers would be needed.

The type of material being handled will also have a strong bearing on the showers deployed. For example very corrosive materials will need extremely fast flushing to avoid serious harm so higher flow rate shower may be required. Similarly some chemical reactions can actually be speeded up by warm water so this may have a baring on whether heated showers are deployed.

Site layout

Part of the obligations of an employer are to ensure that the safety shower is accessible when needed. Obviously the quicker a victim of an accident can access first aid equipment the lower the chance of serious injury. General good practice is to have the equipment no more than 10 seconds walk away and on the same level as the hazard, this translates to about 16 meters. The ANSI Z358.1-2004 /2009 American standards specify the 10 seconds walk criteria, European standards are less specific on this matter but the guidance given in the American standards, if followed, would cover most obligations of accessibility.

Further to this one must remember that shower equipment should be on the same level as the hazard. It is likely that a person injured and seeking a safety shower may find negotiating ladders or stair cases difficult. If a shower is located on a different level then it may expose a company to a litigation risk in the event of an injury as the claim could be made that the equipment was no accessible in a timely fashion. 

Environmental considerations

The environment in which the shower is deployed also needs to be considered carefully when selecting the correct shower.

Explosion Risk ATEX
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 for 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 out doors and cold. In hot environments care needs to be taken that the water supplied to the shower does not over heat. In cold environments a shower could potentially fail due to frozen water. In either case this could be construed as a failure on the companies part to provide sufficient safety equipment. 

For hot environments self draining showers should be installed this will prevent any radial heat from over heating water in the pipes thus preventing over heating. For cold environments with a risk of freezing then self draining showers are also a good idea but also showers protected with heated trace tape to ensure the water is always above freezing point are available. 

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- An 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 impeded 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 they that they are in good working order every 3-6 months. They need to be checked that they operate as specified so flow rate readings may need to be take as well as checks for signs of wear and whether alarms, lights and sirens work. These checks can be carried out internally or we can provide an inspection / maintenance contract for all our showers and eye baths. 

General good practice is that the shower is on the same level as the hazard it is guarding against. If an injured work has to climb or descend stair of 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.

Surrounding equipment
Safety showers are designed to deliver a strong flow of water to 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 likely hood, 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. Further protection can be given by adding a door to the shower.

Psychological considerations

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 work place 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.

Panelled 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 ones work mates 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. Effectively we have a situation where a worker needs to strip naked in front of their work colleagues and then a big neon sign and a siren shouts "look at me!".  

A simple way of reducing this deterrent is to install side panels and a door on the shower. Showering in private is far less embarrassing and so a worker is more likely to follow the correct procedure. Now clearly if someone is in agony from a serious caustic spill or burn then a bit of embarrassment will be the least of their worries but with smaller less dramatic spills there is a real danger that these social taboos will hinder the correct usage of safety showers. Side panels make the correct use more likely.

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. As with the taboo about public nudity this sets up a psychological barrier to following the correct procedure. This barrier again should not be underestimated 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. By containing the mess and minimising disruption personnel may feel more comfortable using the eye bath correctly for minor spills. As with the public nudity taboo, this is unlikely to affect how people behave when serious spill occur but for smaller accidents the presence of a catchment basin may make the difference between using or not using the shower and this can reduce the harm caused. 

Platform actuation

Any good 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 factory 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 an 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 front line workers) are the ones who will be least likely to treat it with respect. Human psychology is funny like that though.

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. Platform actuation removes any temptation to "re-purpose" the space under a shower as a storage unit.