Emergency Equipment as the “Third Line of Defense”

OSHA regulations, safe work practices and common sense demand that, where workers are handling potentially dangerous chemicals or other materials, the workplace be equipped with equipment for rinsing the eyes, face or body in case an accident occurs. While this seems like a simple matter, selecting, installing, using, and maintaining emergency equipment can be complicated. A variety of considerations – ranging from design issues such as tepid water and drainage to differences in equipment performance – make the process complex.

This website contains engineering and technical data on WaterSaver laboratory safety products. In addition, this website is intended to serve as a reference manual for the proper selection, installation, use and maintenance of emergency eyewash and shower equipment. Hopefully, the information contained in this website will assist our customers in constructing a comprehensive emergency equipment program.

While emergency equipment is a necessary part of a safe work environment, it must be emphasized that it is only the “third line of defense” for workers in such environments. The first line of defense must always be setting up the work area and designing the workflow and processes to minimize the possibility of an accident occurring. Many factors go into making a workplace safe. However, practices such as storing hazardous materials in proper containers, marking the containers clearly and accurately, and keeping the workplace clean and well organized can have a significant impact on minimizing the likelihood of an accident occurring.

The “second line of defense” for workers is assuring that, when workers do have to handle dangerous materials, personal protective equipment is provided and used. Proper protective clothing, gloves and eye protection (such as goggles and face shields) can change a potentially life-threatening spill into a harmless event.

However, even where work processes have been designed to minimize the possibility of an accident, and even where proper protective equipment is in use, it is still possible that an accident can occur. For this reason, it is necessary that effective, functioning emergency eyewash and shower equipment be provided.