Cinnaminson, NJ, June 6th, 2016
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has reported that thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries and these injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.
To help mitigate eye injuries, some industries are required to have emergency eyewash stations to wash away chemicals, biological agents and other substances that could impact people’s eyes. These eyewash stations, whether permanently connected to a source of potable water or having self-contained flushing fluid, need proper maintenance or they may present health hazards that can worsen or cause additional damage to a worker’s eyes.
“OSHA reports that water found in improperly maintained eyewash stations is more likely to contain organisms that thrive in stagnant or untreated water and are known to cause infections,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “If a worker uses an eyewash station that is not maintained, organisms in the water may come into contact with the eye, skin or may be inhaled. A worker using an eyewash station after exposure to a hazardous chemical or material may have eye injuries that make the eye more susceptible to infection. Workers with skin damage or a compromised immune system are also at increased risk for developing illnesses from contaminated water.”
The following is a partial list from OSHA of organisms that can thrive in eyewash stations when they are not maintained properly. They include:
- Acanthamoeba which is a microscopic single cell organism that may cause eye infections. This amoeba can live in treated water and on rare occasions, exposure results in eye infections known as Acanthamoeba
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa may cause infections to eyes, skin, muscle, lung and other tissues. This bacterium has developed resistance to many antibiotics.
- Legionella is a group of bacteria that are found in water often living with amoeba and may cause a serious lung infection. Acanthamoeba are effective hosts for Legionella, and they may both be present in contaminated water. Legionella does not cause eye infections, but inhaling water droplets containing it can cause Legionnaires’ disease.
To help prevent these types of infections from occurring, EMSL offers comprehensive microbial testing services. Testing can also be instrumental for identifying the source of an infection if one has already occurred. EMSL recently sponsored an educational video about eyewash stations and potential microbial risks from improper maintenance that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/Nb9XdcO1cZk.
To learn more about this or other environmental, occupational or health and safety services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.