I have never had anyone not use a safety shower or eyewash. But, I did have one employee with an eye splash that would not hold open her eyelids because “it hurt and was uncomfortable”. I have trained the supervisors and managers that when an eyewash/safety shower required incident happens, to prioritize:
1. Immediately get the employee into safety shower.
2. Supervisors and Managers are directed to then evacuate everyone else out of the lab, just like it was a fire drill.
3. The Supervisors and Managers then activate 911 and notify me; while the employee is in the shower and everyone else is clear.
4. If the supervisor/manager is of the opposite sex – I’ll send them on errands, e.g., go obtain a fresh set of scrubs, suit, etc. to allow the employee to maintain dignity when EMS arrives or they are transferred to another appropriate provider.
No matter what, we try to maintain the privacy of the individual, but we focus on providing an appropriate response, privacy is secondary. I would have some reservations installing shower curtains, I need a same sex supervisor/manager or myself mentally supporting the individual to stay in the shower, update on EMS arrival, ensure they are washing the contaminant off appropriately and not interfere with EMS when they arrive. (Some of my showers have been upgraded to the new ANSI standard providing tempered water, but not all.) The importance must remain on the proper response.
Does anyone on the list have experience or information about using curtains on safety showers?
Recently we had an employee exposure incident that, thankfully, did not turn out to be major, but did not go according to plan. Employees have requested to have curtains on the showers so they will feel more comfortable using the shower in an emergency – which I know should not be the point. Someone found a vendor selling a curtain. I want to address the employee concerns, but I do not want to create unreasonable expectations or more hazards.
Any advice appreciated, because right now I really want to scold someone who should know better.
Michele L. Wallace , NRCC-CHO
Associate Director, Product Integrity
"The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."
- Confucius Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC - 479 BC)
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