IS BRITAIN’S SMALL-SCALE INDUSTRY GETTING ‘TANKED’ UP ON MEETING SAFETY STANDARDS?
Allen Yates, managing director of Showers & Eyebaths Services looks at how the UK’s smaller industrial and manufacturing companies may be wasting money through over specifying emergency shower units.
In any working environment, where the eyes or body of any operative may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable decontamination facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body must be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.
The current American National Standard (ANSI Z358.1-2004) governs the worldwide design, manufacture and installation of emergency shower units and eyewashes. The standard dictates everything from location and installation through to spray pattern, visibility and operation.
In their quest to meet these recommended standards, facility managers and specifiers are requesting high spec emergency tank showers. In some instances these have to be installed in areas where access is poor, such as on top of roofs, or on split level flooring which necessitates separating the tank from the shower in order to fit within the ceiling height.
The cost for installing these bespoke solutions, together with ongoing running costs, does beg the question as to whether the smaller industries are over specifying according to their needs just to satisfy ANSI, which is actually only a recommendation; it is not a legal standard.
Emergency tank showers are normally specified where water supply is interrupted or not guaranteed.
However, with the growing need to be more efficient and environmentally aware, there are now a number of energy efficient models that avoid the wasteful dumping of huge volumes of water needed for the weekly testing stipulated by ANSI. For example, systems that use multi-nozzles create a fine spray. These units are used most effectively by strategically positioning the nozzles to hit all parts of the body at close range. This also avoids the mist drifting before it meets the body should the unit not be enclosed.
Although siting a tank shower on a roof is not a problem, the company who actually made this request wanted to provide protection for their employees against a potentially low risk ammonia spill. We therefore recommended a simpler and more economical shower and eyewash facility that could be housed inside their premises.
For the smaller company, regulatory emergency showers don’t have to be expensive since much of the equipment needed can be easily transported from site to site, and is designed to be extremely low maintenance.
In the not too distant future a British standard that will mirror what is currently used in Germany will be coming in. From what I have already seen of this British standard, I believe it will be far more sensible. It will reduce the flow rate currently stipulated by ANSI which will effectively reduce the amount of water that is wasted during operation. Again is it not a directive – but British business will now have recommendations more suitable to their needs whilst also providing them with access to the best available expertise and knowledge.
Showers & Eyebaths Services Ltd can be contacted on 01744 889677.
Showers & Eyebaths are manufactures and installers of professional and innovative emergency safety showers, eyebaths, decontamination units, mobile safety showers and eyebaths and shower coolers. Their products are used worldwide by the oil, chemical and water industries. Schools, universities, hospitals and individuals who come into contact with materials and substances that can cause harm to eyes, hands and skin, also use their products. Their head office and manufacturing facility is based in St Helens, Merseyside.