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Contact Information

Radiological and
Environmental Management
550 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2051

Information: (765) 49-46371
Fax: (765) 49-47403
Office Location: HAMP B173
Campus Mail: REM, HAMP

Page Updated:
April 11, 2014

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Eyewashes and Safety Showers

This page was designed and developed to provide information to Purdue employees and students whose laboratories, rooms or hallways contain any safety shower or eyewash units. Purdue University has more than 1500 units, and units are being added as construction proceeds on the campus. After reading through the following sections you will have a better understanding of how your unit works and possible solutions to any problems that you may come across.

Eyewash/Shower Combination

Eyewash Safety Shower pipe wrench


Safety Showers



Face in Eyewash

This is a picture of a properly functioning eyewash. Notice that the water is clear and shooting directly to the eye area with even flow.

To maintain your eyewash, there are just a few simple tasks:

Flush your eyewash weekly.

  • Locate floor drain and adjust accordingly. For example, we recommend using a plastic garbage bag to catch the water if your drain pipe does not extend to the floor drain or connect directly to an outgoing pipe.
  • Protect nearby objects from possible over spraying water. This could include electrical objects or
    personal items that you do not wish to become wet.
  • Wrapping an old rag around the two shields will help to prevent water from leaking onto the floor.
    Gently and slowly push back the lever to begin water flow.

When the water proves to be clear, you are finished.

  • Using your eyewash.
    • In case chemicals should find their way into your eyes, rush to the nearest eyewash station.
    • With the eyewash on, use your hands to force your eyes open.
    • Flush eyes thoroughly for 15 minutes. It is very important that you do not stop until the 15
      minutes are up. While flushing have someone call 911.
    • After the 15 minutes have ended, seek professional medical attention immediately.

Safety Showers

This shower is used by pulling on the lever. Once done using, push lever back to original position and water flow will stop.

Other types of showers include a type that includes chain that you pull where approximately 5 gallons of water is released then the unit shuts itself off.

Safety Shower

Things to keep in mind when using a safety shower:

  • It is always a good idea to know exactly where the shower's water shut-off valve is located. If the unit is ever used and does not shut itself off, the shut-off valve will be needed.
  • It is not a very good idea to place any electrical equipment near the unit. It may cause
    serious injury or even death due to electrical shock.
  • If your clothing is contaminated with chemicals, remove them before getting under the shower. The chemicals will stay on the body longer if the clothing is not removed.
  • Continue under the shower for 15 minutes before seeking medical attention.


During the summer an eyewash/safety shower crew from REM examines over 1500 units on campus making repairs and adjustments as needed. In the meantime, here are some solutions to problems that you might encounter with your eyewash or safety shower units. With these suggestions, we hope that you can fix your problem(s) easily.

Troubleshooting Eyewashes and Safety Showers
Problem Solution
1.  I can't get to the shower. 1.  Keep pathway to shower open.
2.  Eyewash basin is full. 2.  Remove items from eyewash basin.
3.  Electrical equipment is stored near unit. 3. Relocate all electrical equipment and components.
4.  Eyewash spray is erratic. 4.  Fill out Form 18-A.
5.  Eyewash/ safety shower is leaking. 5.  Fill out Form 18-A.
6.  Eyewash water is discolored. 6.  Flush eyewash until water runs clear.
7.  Eyewash/ safety shower is needed. 7.  Contact Kristi Evans at REM.

Eyewash and Safety Shower Testing Questions and Answers

Q: I know that REM checks my eyewash annually during the summer, but how do I know that my eyewash is working any other time that I might need it?
The American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, ANSI Z358.1-2004, states, "Plumbed equipment shall be activated weekly for a period long enough to verify operation and ensure that flushing fluid is available." A note further states, "The intent is to ensure that there is a flushing fluid supply at the head of the device and to clear the supply line of any sediment build-up that could prevent fluid from being delivered to the head of the device and minimize microbial contamination due to sitting water."

Q: How do I check my eyewash if the eyewash drains directly onto the floor without a floor drain?
Eyewashes can be modified by your zone plumber to accommodate a 5-gallon bucket under the eyewash drainpipe. Turn in a work request with a departmental number or contact your building deputy to initiate the work.

Q: What if I find that the eyewash is not operating properly?
Turn in a work request with a departmental number or contact your building deputy to initiate the work. You should indicate "High Priority - emergency eyewash out of service" if your eyewash is not functioning.

Q: Can REM check my eyewash for me weekly?
Sorry, REM does not have the resources. It is the responsibility of the persons working in the laboratory or shop to weekly check the eyewash.

Q: Are there situations where I would want to check my eyewash more frequently than once a week?
In situations where you are working with very corrosive chemicals with high splash potential, a daily check would be advisable.

Q: You've only mentioned eyewashes, should I check my safety shower as well?
Yes! The ANSI code requiring eyewashes to be checked weekly also requires safety showers to be inspected weekly.

Q: How do I inspect the shower without flooding the lab?
This is a two-person operation. One person will position them self within arms reach of the manual shutoff valve located in the water piping leading to the safety shower. A ladder is sometimes necessary to get within reach. Test the manual valve for ease of opening and closing BEFORE testing the shower. If you cannot operate this manual shutoff valve, do not test the shower because the shower's release valve sometimes sticks in the open position. This is especially true with the pull-chain valve.

The second person will position them self under the shower and prepare to operate the pull valve. This is not the same as the manual valve. The pull valve is intended to operate the shower; turn it on or off. The manual shutoff valve is intended to shut off the water supply to the shower during maintenance and servicing. The second person standing beneath the shower places a five-gallon bucket under the showerhead to enclose it. Now, pull the shower release valve. The shower will gush water into the bucket at a rate of 20 gallons per minute. If chain operated, release the chain quickly. If lever operated, push the lever back up. The shower should shut off before the bucket is full. With a pull-chain valve, if the shower's self-closing valve sticks open and water does not stop flowing into the bucket, the first person at the manual shutoff valve must immediately close the manual shutoff valve. The same goes with the lever valve, but these are typically much more reliable.

Lastly, if the shower's self-closing valve sticks open and the shower has to be shut off manually, the shower and very likely the eyewash will be out of service. OSHA requires a functioning eyewash if using corrosive material or harmful substances to the eyes. A work order with your proper departmental account number must be immediately turned into the Work Control Center at 49-49999. Mark the work request with "High Priority - emergency shower out of service" and describe the work that needs to be performed. If possible, replace the pull-chain valve with a more reliable ball valve equipped with a rigid pull-down lever. These valves allow the shower to turn on and remain on until the lever is pushed back up, thus closing the valve.

Q: What if I have more questions?
You can call REM at 49-46371.


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