From: Patrick A Ceas <ceas**At_Symbol_Here**STOLAF.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Shower/Eyewash Station Audible and Visible Alarms
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:53:32 -0500
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: CAGzA3XPsObzROND_s3KM9LubaK8=PcskWVdqc5bS6Oo_wShOEw**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <8C59E82C-6B11-4A53-9653-90D7EF6939D6**At_Symbol_Here**>


We have what you are describing, and I'm quite happy with the system, but since we are a small undergraduate institution perhaps we're an outlier in this case. In our new (2008) science building we installed both an audible alarm and visual strobe for each shower/eyewash (so approximately 45 alarms/strobes in the building; the building contains both teaching and research labs). These alarms are wired back to our power plant, where we have a technician on duty 24/7 who monitors the campus utilities. For each shower/eyewash an audible alarm and visual strobe is mounted in the hall ceiling, immediately outside the door that leads into the particular lab. When an eyewash/shower is activated:
• You can hear the alarm throughout the floor, and given the building design you can tell the general direction of the alarm given your location on the floor. It alerts everyone (i.e., help is on the way)
• A quick look down the hall and you immediately know the room location of the activated shower because you can see the flashing strobe (i.e., help is on the way).
• An alarm is also triggered at our power plant, so the 24/7 Technician can take one look and determine the approximate location of the activated shower (e.g., 3rd Floor West, 2nd Floor East, etc.). The Technician calls our campus Public Safety and informs them about an activated shower/eyewash, and Public Safety immediately sends an officer (i.e., help is on the way).

We test our units in the evening (after 9pm, when lab activities are done for the day) so there is minimal disturbance to building occupants, and the students who are studying in the building have come to understand that the weekly evening testing takes place at this time. We do not deactivate the audible/visual alarms because we want to test them as well -- so far the alarms have always worked when the showers have been activated (the only problem is that we've had a couple of alarms that wouldn't turn OFF after the shower/eyewash has been stopped, which is another reason to test the entire system!). We are fortunate in never having to use the system in a real-life situation, but it is comforting to know that it is robust and reliable. We have had some turnover in our Facilities personnel, but the new folks have been brought up to speed, and the construction companies who installed the wiring/plumbing during the building's construction are local contractors with whom we have a good relationships.

We do not allow people to work alone in labs so if an eyewash/shower is needed then (in theory) there should always be a buddy immediately present to respond to the affected individual. However, as my years of attending CHAS meetings has ingrained in me, I like to ask the "What If?" questions, and during the design (and now operation) of our science center everyone involved has agreed that the initial expense (and so far minor maintenance) of the visual and auditory alarms was worth the added cost.

But like I said, we are probably an outlier. Our science center is a decent size building (200,000 sq ft; offices, teaching & research labs), but it would be only one of many science buildings at a large Division I school, and you guys have way more logistical issues (including dealing with faculty/researchers who work in labs 24/7).


On Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 8:35 AM, Stuart, Ralph <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
> >If possible, I'd keep it simple. I feel that's the best way in the long run. We installed these complex hood systems (to go with a nice ERU system) - but unfortunately they do require maintenance, and our University is not willing to call in a guy when a hood goes out (they want us to accumulate these things to make the call more worthwhile).

This is an ongoing concern that I have with both emergency equipment (eyewashes and safety showers) and lab ventilation system. The trend of "standards creep" which adds more and more specifications and alarms to basic lab equipment such as fume hoods has made them significantly harder to use and more confusing to the people they are supposed to serve. I routinely see situations where fume hood "features" and other ventilation innovations have been disabled by lab occupants to avoid alarm distractions, sudden temperature changes, or inconvenience as they work. And often what the lab occupants are trying to address go beyond distractions or inconvenience to new hazards imposed by designers unaware of how laboratory work flows occur in real life.

In my opinison, given the staff turnover associated with many (all academic) laboratories, maintaining a "trained" workforce for each piece of equipment they may (or may not) need to use in their laboratory career is not a reasonable design approach.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College


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Patrick A. Ceas, Ph.D.
Chemical Hygiene Officer
312 Regents Hall of Natural Sciences
St. Olaf College
Northfield, MN 55057
507-786-3560 (o)
507-321-0379 (c)
--- This e-mail is from DCHAS-L, the e-mail list of the ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety. For more information about the list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here**

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