Emergency safety showers and eye/face washes are special occupational safety equipments designed to wash chemicals or toxic substances that come in contact with skin, eyes or clothing, meeting the requirements of international standards. Emergency showers can be defined as a first aid equipment that should be used as a necessity for emergency response to reduce the effects of accidents at a workplace. Since these are the products which are directly related to human health, it is a necessity to produce them in accordance with the relevant European and / or American standards and carry the markings of the relevant standards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has defined it clearly what types of workplaces are required to have an emergency shower (Where any person’s eyes or body may be exposed to harmful corrosive substances, suitable facilities shall be provided for immediate use in the workplace for immediate washing of eyes and body ”).
The second OSHA regulation in this area specifies certain industries that should include emergency shower and eye/face wash equipment in each facility. These industries include manufacturing of open surface tanks, storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia, cellulose, paper and cardboard and other hazardous materials.
In order to avoid the bad consequences of emergency situations in workplaces, factories, hospitals, laboratories where there are dangers such as heavy dust, chemicals or heat / flame, emergency showers should be kept in the working environment in accordance with the risk assessment.
The requirements and competencies of emergency shower and eye/face washes are specified in EN 15154 in Europe and ANSI / ISEA Z358.1-2014 in North America (generally accepted in the Middle East and non-European countries).
EN 15154-1 : Plumbed-in body showers for laboratories
EN 15154-2 : Plumbed-in eye wash units
EN 15154-3 : Non-plumbed safety shower for the body
EN 15154-4 : Non-plumbed safety shower for the eye
EN 15154-5 : Water overhead body showers for sites other than laboratories (Pending)
The equipment defined as the only eye wash in the EN standard is divided into two as eye / face wash and only eye wash in ANSI / ISEA Z358.1-2014 standard. It can be said that an emergency shower meets the requirements of OSHA if it has ANSI standard. The latest version of ANSI is 2014. We can say that the ANSI standard requires more comprehensive and detailed requirements than the requirements of the EN standard.
According to the ANSI standard, certain amounts of water flow for emergency showers, which must flow continuously for 15 minutes, are clearly determined (75.7 l / min for body shower, 1.5 l / min for eye wash, 11.4 l / min for eye / face wash). These flow rates must also be met if both the body shower and the eye or eye / face wash operate simultaneously.
Since there is no water network in each workplace, only emergency showers connected to the mains water supply are not sufficient and enough and cannot meet the requirements of the users. For this reason, it is necessary to provide emergency showers with water tank with capacity that can provide 15 minutes of water flow which is required by ANSI standard.
More importantly, according to ANSI standards, the temperature of clean, potable water supplied from the emergency shower must be maintained at 16-38 ° C in any climatic condition (regardless of whether it is installed outside or inside of the building). In addition to that, the emergency shower must always be ready to use in case of an emergency. The necessity of heating the water in cold climates such as in Russia and cooling the water in hot climates such as in Middle East is revealed in the emergency showers to be installed in the plants. In other words, this situation reveals the necessity of using a water tank again.
If we had to heat / cool the water instantly coming from an emergency shower connected to the mains supply by an instant heater or cooler, we would need to use very expensive equipments at high powers such as 100-150 kW, and it would cause unnecessary electricity consumption and cost. This unnecessary energy consumption would be valid even during the weekly maintenance of the system, which is a requirement of the ANSI standard. For this reason, it is a more economical and more efficient solution to heat / cool the water in a tank by heater or coolers in smaller capacities and to keep the system ready for use in emergencies.
The Importance and Advantages of Tank Showers
The ANSI standard requires emergency showers to provide defined ”TEPID” water for 15 minutes at a continuous temperature of 16-38 ° C. Occupational health and safety experts or workplace authorities should now be aware that they have no option to deliver cold water from the mains supply directly to the emergency shower.
- If the hazardous material is a burn-inducing chemical, HOT water will exacerbate burns and cause contaminants on the body to enter the skin pores rather than clearing the contamination.
- Conversely, entering COLD water suddenly can shock the person and cause hypothermia. In cold water, the skin pores close suddenly, the contaminant is trapped in the pores and the attempt to washing fails.
- A tank shower is the most effective, safe and economical solution that can guarantee the supply of TEPID water with its ability to store tepid water in its insulated water tank.
- Tank showers are capable of supplying TEPID water instantly as recommended and for 15 minutes, allow more difficult chemicals to be cleaned while encouraging the user not to leave the emergency shower early without being completely free of contaminants because of the temperature of the water is uncomfortable (extremely hot or cold).
- Tank showers are not affected by a short-term power failure or water cut.
- With the help of low capacity heater or coolers, the water temperature is kept constant at the desired temperature with low energy consumption so that the emergency shower is kept ready for continuous use. If the water temperature is at the desired temperature, the heater or cooler does not consume unnecessary energy.
- Meets all the requirements of ANSI and EN standards (It should be ensured that it is manufactured in accordance with the international standards and has the relevant markings, should be avoided from equipments without a valid certification).
- Tailored systems capable of supplying water with a longer capacity to work with or near potentially hazardous materials or allowing the supply of more than one emergency shower with a single tank can be designed. Thus, the most efficient and economical solution for the plant is provided.
If you have access to a suitable mains supply that provides the correct flow rate, it is possible to install a plumbed-in emergency shower. However, this type of an equipment will not provide TEPID water, and therefore must be connected to a warm water network, or a tank shower must be used.
If both hot and cold mains supply are available in the facility, it is possible to provide warm water at the desired temperature without the need of a water tank thanks to special thermostatic mixing valves. All these alternative solutions are provided by the cooperation between the manufacturer and the end-user / distributor after determining the areas where emergency showers will be installed according to the structure of the facility.
Emergency showers are divided into two groups as plumbed-in type or non-plumbed with water tank. Non-plumbed tank showers are preferred in the following cases:
• In case there is no mains supply in the facilities where the systems will be installed,
• In case the emergency showers are installed at outdoor or in open spaces without mains supply,
• In case of inadequate water pressure for emergency showers in the existing mains supply,
• In case of interruptions at the existing mains supply,
• When there is a need to cool or heat water with low energy at high or low ambient temperatures to keep water ready to use at a temperature of 16-38 ° C, which is required by standards.
Especially in hot climates, the temperatures of the water in the water tank exposed to the sun and the pipes of the emergency shower reach very high temperatures. According to ANSI / ISEA Z358.1-2014, which is the standard of emergency showers, it is accepted that water temperature shall be between 16-38 °C for human health. The temperature of the water of the emergency shower is a requirement of the standards which must always be kept ready to use in case of an emergency.
Plumbed-in and non-plumbed emergency showers are also divided as indoor or outdoor use. Units suitable for outdoor use should be the system which are scald-proof for hot climates and freeze-proof for cold climates.
The water remaining in the pipes of the emergency shower can quickly heat up in hot climates, scald the user while using, and in cold climates, freezing water can clog the pipe and cause the shower not to operate. In cases where such risks are present, self-draining systems equipped with specially designed anti-freeze or anti-scald valves should be preferred. In the pipes of emergency showers, water will not be heated or freezed in the pipe after use with these special valves. The systems are completely mechanical and do not require any electrical consumption.
Freeze protection can also be provided in emergency showers designed as insulated and trace heated. The purpose of trace heating is not to provide tepid water, but to ensure that the water remaining in the pipe does not freeze at up to -40 ° C ambient temperature. A wiring connection is needed for these systems. Freezing is prevented by heating the pipes by electical cables. With the help of a safety thermostat, the water in the pipe is prevented from overheating and causing harm to the user.
Solutions that provide tepid water and systems with anti-freeze / scald valves should not be implicated with each other.
Providing proper tepid water
- Emergency showers used with water at high temperatures can cause hyperthermia and even scald of the user. This means that the emergency shower cannot fulfill the task of providing first aid in an emergency situation which is its main duty, and even the possibility of harm to the user and the creation of burns on the skin.
First aid with hot water also causes the clothing to stick on the user‘s skin. Therefore, there is a need to cool the stored water in hot climates. For this reason, a low capacity (2.5 – 3.5 kW) water chiller unit should be used with the tank showers. These systems can be used safely at up to +55 ° C ambient temperature.
- Immersion heaters with a capacity of 3-4 KW are used to heat water for cold climates. Immersion heaters are installed in the water tank. It can be used safely at up to -40 ° C ambient temperature.
- In areas where temperature differences exist between summer and winter or day and night, both heating and cooling may be required. The continental climate, which is cold at night and hot during the day, is an example. Water temperatures are controlled by a safety thermostat. The water temperature is fixed at the recommended 20 ° C. If the temperature of the water coming to the water cooler / heater exceeds or falls below this limit, the unit is activated to heat / cool. Thus, there are low operating costs and efficient operation.
- In hot or cold climates, it is possible to provide tepid water without the need of heating or cooling. With a well insulated tank, water temperatures can be maintained within the range specified by the standards.
- In hot or cold climates, it is necessary to have a water tank for efficient use of emergency showers, and a good insulation of the water tank. The insulation ensures that the temperature of the cooled or heated water is maintained for long periods of time without being substantially affected by the outdoor temperature.
- Passive cooling technology can be used for areas where there is no electricity. By using passive systems, it is possible to provide the conditions required for human and environmental health and working efficiency at certain rates without requiring energy use. In some climates, nights are very cold and during the day it is very hot. Passive cooling takes advantage of this day and night temperature difference.
Passive Cooling Technology
In the summer, by taking advantage of the coldness of the night, it is aimed to keep the water below 38 °C which is required by the standard in daytime. In cases where the night temperature is on average +5 °C, passive cooling allows the daytime water temperature to be maintained at the desired levels. It is a maintenance-free technology and if the ambient temperature is around calculated levels at night, the water temperature in the tank can be kept constant below 38 °C in accordance with the standard during the day. This system is equipped by a heat exchanger, which is made of high thermal conductivity material (can be stainless steel or aluminum) placed on the water tank.
The weight of cold water is always heavier than hot water because it is low in volume and high in density. As the volume of the water increasing temperature increases, the density decreases. For that reason, thanks to the large heat exchanger surface area in contact with the air, the water cooled in the heat exchanger goes down to the lower tank because it is heavier and works by the logic of cooling the water in the tank from below and re-entering the hot water remaining on the tank again. During the night, this top-down, bottom-up hot-cold water circulation continues. During the daytime, the heated water in the heat exchanger with ambient temperature are lighter and the water does not go down to the tank, and in hot weather, cooled tank at night can be maintained within the range of standards required with the great help of the insulation of the tank. Overhead sun canopies are a kind of passive cooling method. All cooling operations without using electricity are called passive cooling.
In order to use emergency showers equipped with electrical equipment in hazardous areas, the unit must be ATEX (Ex-Proof) certified. The latest addition to our ISTEC® Showers & Eyebaths range of emergency showers is ATEX Zone 1, 2 Certification according to new IEC TS 60079-46:2017 standard, Explosive atmospheres – Part 46: Equipment assemblies. This is a new Atex standard.
We provide our emergency showers with its own ATEX certification including all its accessories such as chiller, audible and visual alarm, flow switch etc., not only with the individual certificates of the components.
The unit does not need to be Atex (Ex-Proof) certified if it is to be used in a safe area. It should be ensured that all emergency showers with electrical accessories to be installed in hazardous environments must be ex-proof (Atex or equivalent certified) and have appropriate certificates and protection levels according to the conditions of the area to be installed and the risk analysis to be performed.
The materials of the emergency shower (emergency shower, eye wash, water tank, cabin, etc.) must be determined according to the conditions in the area where the units will be used according to the types of chemicals in the workplace. For instance, in the food industry that is kept hygienically clean, it is recommended to use 304 grade stainless steel, 316 grade stainless steel material is recommended in workplaces where hazardous and corrosive substances are likely to be exposed, such as offshore, pharmaceutical or chemical industries.
Overhead Water Tank Showers
Placing the water tanks on top of the emergency shower with the help of a cabin/frame allows the flow to be obtained by using gravity and providing the flows required by the standards. Otherwise, installing the tank on the ground will require the use of an additional pump / booster. This means extra energy consumption and cost.
Emergency showers with overhead water tank can be tailored with insulated cabins or doors according to end-user’s requirements. Enclosed insulated cabin and door systems are preferred especially in cold climates. If the outside temperature is low, which may harm the health of the user after washing, it may be necessary to install a separate space heater inside the cabinet. All these optional equipment such as space heater, audible and visual alarm which warns when the shower is being used, lighting for the cabin, and E-Gsm device which sends SMS to the mobile phone when the shower is used must be determined and projected according to the needs of the end-user.
Importance of Emergency Showers and Automation Technology
Emergency showers are occupational safety and first aid equipments that are required by law in the workplaces determined by the regulations according to the work and / or their employees. Although the usage rates of first aid equipments are low by nature, it is vital to keep it ready for activation when needed. An emergency shower will not be needed for months or even years, except when it is activated for weekly checks as per ANSI standard. But a worker who really needs an emergency shower will be sure that the emergency shower is going to do its duty well and this will be vital for the worker. It would not be a wrong example to compare emergency showers to a car’s air bag. The airbag is expected to deploy in the event of a dangerous accident and save lives. The air bag may not be needed at all during the life of the car, but it is vital that it does its duty in case of actually needed.
Another important issue is that vital data such as the level of water in the water tank, the temperature of the water, any malfunction in the system, whether or not the shower is used should be monitored from time to time by responsible persons such as facility managers, workplace authorities and occupational safety experts. It is especially important to monitor the situation of multiple emergency showers located in a large facility scattered in different geographical areas.
According to ANSI / ISEA Z358.1-2014 standard, it is mandatory to check the emergency showers by activating once a week. For this reason, it may be necessary to keep records of the data such as the number of times the emergency shower works, when it works, and a system to report if necessary. In such cases, by installing a special SCADA system for emergency showers, remote monitoring and controllable solutions of emergency showers can be provided. SCADA systems, which is an automation system, is an abbreviation formed from the first letters of the words Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and is used for systems that perform supervisory control and data collection processes. These systems offer the advantage of reliably, safely and economically performing the functions of collecting and controlling information about emergency showers from a central control point over a large geographical area in the workplace / facility. An interface specially created for the systems via HMI (Human-Machine Interface) panel by authorized persons can monitor the existing data simultaneously and control the system manually when necessary.
Connecting emergency showers to the network via cable will be costly and inefficient in large geographical areas.
Wireless communication modems allow up to 10 kilometers of communication in the open areas. If there is an obstacle in front of the emergency shower, the distance is shortened according to the structure of the obstacle.
Thanks to the automation system, an authorized person in the facility gets information in any emergency and can intervene in the system immediately. For example, when the water temperature increases above a certain level, the water chiller should automatically switch on. If the thermostat on the system fails, the chiller may not automatically switch on. In such an emergency, the Scada system warns that the water temperature exceeds a certain level and the system can be intervened or the chiller unit can be manually activated remotely.
Each emergency shower is designed for different purposes and may not replace another. Standard heated or cooled systems with water tank may not always be the right choice for a workplace’s needs. Our company is fully capable to offer, design and produce specially designed tailored systems and engineering solutions for the needs.
Keeping the emergency showers ready to operate efficiently and correctly in accordance with the international standards and following this, controlling and intervening in the system when necessary, is vital for occupational safety.
Our main goal is to bring the end-user and/or distributor to the solution in the most economical way by providing point shot solutions to the demands of the user and by changing the configurations of our new generation emergency showers. We prevent the customer from paying a fee for an unnecessary feature that is not required by the user. It is the right choice for your facility, your employees and your safety to work with an experienced and competent manufacturer who value human health, manufacture in accordance with international harmonised standards regarding these type of serious equipment such as emergency showers.