Emergency eyewash stations are required for workplaces in North Carolina that contain corrosive chemicals. Many employers who operate research laboratories, production facilities and medical facilities are required to install emergency eyewash stations. Although eyewash stations are supposed to lessen the effects of workplace injuries, those that are improperly maintained can actually cause infections.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released a warning about the hazards of improperly maintained emergency eyewash stations. In the warning, the federal agency pointed out that eyewash stations with stagnant or untreated water could become thriving environments for organisms. When using an eyewash station, a worker’s eyes and skin could come into contact with these organisms, resulting in an infection. Contaminated water may be especially hazardous for workers with compromised immune systems.
After a lab worker is exposed to a hazardous chemical, the worker could have eye or skin injuries that make them more likely to contract an infection from a poorly maintained eyewash station. OSHA recommends that employers with emergency eyewash stations in their workplaces follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and clean the eyewash systems out regularly. Employers are also advised to use special solutions designed to flush eyes rather than untreated water.
A worker who has suffered from eye or skin injuries on the job may be eligible to claim workers’ compensation benefits. An injured worker who contracted an infection from an eyewash station may also be eligible to claim financial compensation as well. An attorney may be able to help an injured worker prove that the infection was job-related.