The Hazards of Eyewash Safety Showers – Excess Water Temperatures | Safety Series
May 1, 2017
Even though we conduct rigorous and thorough inspection and tests of Emergency Safety Shower facilities on mine sites, process plant and refineries across Australia, is this enough to ensure they are not hazardous to users –
The answer is an emphatic No, No and No as there is often a fundamental flaw in the design of the potable water supply used for eyewash safety showers in hot climates.
If the potable water supply has been designed based on operational process requirements it is unlikely the takeoff piping to the eyewash safety showers is continuously recirculated to ensure water temperature levels remain safe.
In hot, arid regions around Australia it’s not uncommon for ambient temperatures to reach well into the 40’s. These high summer temperatures can result in pipeline water temperatures exceeding 50˚C.
On a 40˚C day, stagnant water in an uninsulated pipe on an exposed pipe rack can rise from 25˚C to 40˚C in as little as 20 minutes, and the pipe will reach an equilibrium temperature of 52.6˚C in average wind conditions. Well above what is safe to use in eyewash safety showers. On a day with completely still wind conditions, this equilibrium can reach as high as 88˚C.
Potable water is used for Safety Showers can be excessively hot and constitute a major burn hazard to the employee using emergency safety showers and ablutions.
Besides burns, excess water temperatures can cause the pores in the skin to dilate allowing corrosives easier penetration of the skin. Chemical reactions also happen quicker when heated and lengthy exposure to hot water causes the bodies blood vessels to dilate and the lowering blood pressure can lead to dizziness, confusion and fainting.